“There are moments in the last issue that are going to shock a lot of readers-right up to the last page,” Extermination writer Ed Brisson told me this past November in an Uncanny X-Month-exclusive interview.
Brisson wasn’t kidding. There are some serious surprises at the end of Extermination #5 and, sadly, so many of you reading this probably already know what they are (because the internet is terrible). If you’ve yet to have this mini-series’ conclusion ruined, fear not–this review’s spoiler-free.
It’s all-out war as the X-Men, X-Force and Kid Cable face off against Ahab and his Hounds, with the fate of the original five X-Men hanging in the balance. Extermination’s main art team of artist Pepe Larraz and colorist Marte Gracia are reunited for the big finale and it’s a gift to readers. The Extermination trade paperback will make a nice addition to any X-Fan’s bookshelf, as this event has featured some of the most lush and dynamic artwork I’ve seen in an X-title in some time. From epic battles to intimate and emotional moments, it all looks gorgeous.
I’ll be honest, it’s hard to talk about a comic that features so many twists, as I want readers to have the same unspoiled experience I had. For instance, we all know teenage Jean, Scott, Warren, Hank and Bobby are taken off the board (you know, since they’re nowhere to be seen in Uncanny X-Men). Oh, and we also know it was Mimic, not Scott, who got speared at the end of Extermination #4 (thanks, preview pages!). But part of the fun of Extermination has been trying to figure out how Brisson sends the original X-Kids home. Considering the writer was basically on clean-up duty, I’d say he certainly has an interesting–if a little predictable–solution to part of the problem.
Still, the advantages of having the O5 in the present were all the opportunities for creative new stories and character development that came out of it. There are some very nice moments in here that X-Fans are sure to remember for a long time (and in the case of teen Scott and Jean’s final talk–analyze). I especially love the contrast in how the Icemen talk to each other vs. the Angels.
And now for the negative. I feel as though some of the action wraps up a little too conveniently as the issue nears its end, but if you’ve been paying attention to X-Force promotional materials, you know that the adventures of Kid Cable and Ahab are far from over. And speaking of Kid Cable, it’s rather unsettling to see everyone–especially adult Jean–so comfy around the guy who offed our beloved adult Cable. Especially after reading the recent X-Men: The Exterminated. Also a bit odd–a certain character’s fate is pretty much left up in the air during the battle’s conclusion, and none of the X-Men seem too bothered by it. That was strange, but again, I have to assume that will be addressed in X-Force. Damn you, serialized storytelling!
Now, I’ll take my critic hat off and put on my X-Men fan hat and let you all know despite those flaws, the end of this comic floored me. As I alluded to at the beginning of my review, it’s very hard to stay surprised in the internet age, so the fact that Extermination #5 left a stunned smile on my face is pretty special, in my opinion.
As much as I enjoyed series like All-New X-Men, X-Men Blue and Extermination, it was just time for the original X-Men to return home. Brisson, Larraz and Gracia managed to give the teens a solid sendoff and I very much look forward to what Marvel has in store for adult Jean, Bobby and the rest of the gang now that creators don’t have to split their creative energy between two versions of the same characters.