“Cyclops was right.”
These words are never uttered in Extraordinary X-Men #17, but it’s all I could think about after finishing this surprisingly intimate Inhumans Vs. X-Men tie-in issue, written by Jeff Lemire and illustrated by Eric Koda.
Extraordinary X-Men #17 (Marvel Comics)
Event tie-in issues can be hit or miss. You can always tell which creators would much rather be telling a different story with the few (oh-so expensive) pages they have to work with every month. Fortunately, Extraordinary X-Men #17 just so happens to be written by Lemire – half of the writing team behind the main IVX book. As a result, the writer has an opportunity to further explore Storm’s sudden embrace of the late Cyclops’ more militaristic outlook.
Lemire and Koda accomplish this by focusing the bulk of the issue on Alisha, a young woman staying in X-Haven with her mother and sister, Maya – a mutant infected with M-Pox. Storm, ever the superhero, promised to protect Maya and save her from the Terrigen-born disease. Alisha doesn’t share Storm’s optimism. In fact, she’s downright fed up with the X-Men, who, through Alisha’s outsider eyes, come across as a little too cool for school.
It’s an interesting move on Lemire’s part – making the Extraordinary X-Men’s stars seem as unapproachable as a major celebrity on the street. But it’s effective – after all, the main X-Men have always been drawn with movie star good looks. Fortunately, the busy X-Men aren’t portrayed as total divas. Alisha isn’t aware of the fact the X-Men are about to go to war with an entire species.
Storm is one of those X-Men characters that, if written poorly, can come across as the boring adult in the room compared to edgy badasses like Wolverine and Gambit. How I’ve always felt about Storm is how many surely viewed Cyclops and Jean Grey on the 1990s X-Men cartoon. So I welcomed the opportunity this issue presented to get inside Storm’s head.
What I liked most is seeing how Storm, who has been quite vocal with her opposition toward Cyclops’ philosophies, finally came around to his line of thinking. While Cyclops may be gone, I like that IVX is shaping up to be a venue for some much-needed character rehabilitation. Turns out “what Cyclops did” was really mutants’ only option for survival.
By issue’s end, fans of Storm and non-fans alike should be pleased with how her character grows under Lemire’s pen (or keyboard). Storm can still be a superhero who saves the day for mutantkind, but it may mean making many of the same bold decisions that turned Cyclops into a pariah. Sadly, in today’s heavily opinionated world, doing the right thing and not making a single enemy seems more and more like something out of a Golden Age comic book.
On the art front, Extraordinary X-Men continues to feel like an indie X-book thanks to Koda’s pencils, which are like a distant cousin to those of Death of X artist Aaron Kuder. Koda gives the emotional story a rough, grounded feel and still manages to draw an imposing Storm for all those superhero fans in attendance.
Based on the information I have about next month’s Extraordinary X-Men #18, Forge should be at the center of the action. I hope this is true, and I hope Lemire continues these character-focused tie-in issues for the remainder of IVX. This is shaping up to be a strong X-event, and I can’t think of a better way to end this series, which has showcased terrific character work, than with personal stories from the Inhuman-mutant war.