From what I’ve heard, Uncanny X-Men’s Apocalypse Wars tie-in was pretty good. I know that All-New X-Men’s 3-issue arc did a great job exploring Apocalypse’s childhood in ways we haven’t seen before, while also giving Evan a lot to think about. Extraordinary X-Men’s tie in though, well …
Extraordinary X-Men as a whole is a depressing and often boring series. Storm seems to have lost her charisma in favour and is portrayed as a leader who can’t seem to make decisions half the time, and the X-Men have left the Earth in face of the terrigen mists instead of confronting it. Although Storm actually leads the team at the end of this issue, Extraordinary X-Men 12 perfectly sums up my thoughts on Jeff Lemire’s run as a whole. 12 issues in and this series still feels like it’s going nowhere. Almost half of this issue is part of the big fight scene between the Extraordinary X-Men and Apocalypse’s horsemen. At least this time there’s a sense of progress, even if it takes a full page for Iceman and the Cerebra Sentinel to take out Deadpool.
Worse, it takes 2 pages for Jean to free Logan from the venom symbiote, because apparently Jean needs to confront the symbiote’s mind instead of, you know, telekinetically removing it. That fight should have been 2 panels at the most. The one awesome thing about this fight scene is, after everyone seems to be having trouble against Horsemen Colossus, Magik shows up through her magical time travel and beats him down with a single slice of her soul sword. Magik is awesome. Unfortunately, Magik showing up makes for a bit of an anti-climactic conclusion to this story since she can magically bring everyone back to the present with no difficulty whatsoever. Meanwhile, there’s one sub-plot that turned the one optimistic story in the last few issues into the very reason the future went so bad. Apparently Sapna, the new mutant who became friends with Magik, caused the apocalypse. At the same time, Colossus is still a horseman, now hiding in the present instead of being in the future. Hasn’t Colossus already been through enough lately, like becoming the Juggernaut, then being possessed by the phoenix, only to become a fugitive? Give him a break already.
Humberto Ramos’s art is no less frustrating than the writing. The slightly cartoonish feel won’t be for everyone anyway, but for the most part, the art is good. When Magic is working her way through time, the backgrounds are complete with a wide variety of buildings that clearly change over time. It’s a neat montage of how the apocalypse slowly took place, first by fire and eventually with a bunch of bones taking over the burned down buildings. Characters with more normal body proportions, like Magik, Storm, Nightcrawler and Iceman, look perfectly fine. Facial expressions also convey emotion quite well. On the other hand, larger characters like Colossus and Venom-covered Logan look ridiculous. Logan’s arms are as thick as his head even after he’s freed, while Colossus is so cartoonishly massive that his shoulders could fit a dozen heads. Edgar Delgado and Dono Sanchez-Almara share colouring duty, and I couldn’t tell where one colourist started and the other ended. Either way, they both do a great job – everything is bright and colourful, and there’s good use of shadows and glowing powers that reflect on character’s skin and armour.
Well, I tried. I tried to stick with this series in hopes that it would pick up, but I think I’m done. 12 issues in and Extraordinary X-Men is still slogging along. In my experience, Lemire is clearly better at writing solo titles than team books – his Hawkeye run is short and fun, and his Old Man Logan run is fantastic so far. Meanwhile, this series is boring. Magik is the only thing that’s consistently good about Extraordinary X-Men, so maybe Lemire should write a Magik solo series instead. That I would read in a heartbeat. I can’t recommend this issue, or this series.