Oct 29, 2015

The 40 Years of Comics Project - Day 247: E is for Extinction #1, August 2015

I know it's probably just me, but I think way too many of the "Secret Wars" mini-series were focussed on various iterations of the X-Men. I mean, how many more series does this team merit?

I admit, I bought this particular title because it picks up some of the threads of my absolute favourite run on the mutants, Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely(ish)'s New X-Men. The extinction of the human race, a major plot point at the beginning of that early 2000s run, was seemingly dropped for more mainstream superhero concerns, and then the whole aesthetic was replaced with Joss Whedon's Astonishing X-Men. So a chance to return to this era? Sign me up.

What I think distinguishes E is for Extinction from the other X-titles in the crossover is that it actually takes that ephemeral now of the Marvel U and projects into the future - it ostensibly takes place "X" years in the future, which we can read as 10, or as a variable amount, but enough that Emma Frost has wrinkles, and Cyclops is a bit overweight. How on Earth Magneto is still alive, I'm not sure, but he's taken on an Xavier-esque role, which, if "Age of Apocalypse" has taught us anything, can only seem to happen after the death of Professor X. What's that all about?

The Burnham/Villalobos team does a nice job of capturing the aesthetic of this X-period, both in the character designs and in the look of the book in general. I've been trying to figure out exactly where in the original run this series diverges from (if anyone can tell me, drop a line - I wish I had the time to go back and re-read New X-Men right now). Regardless, the What If...? structure of many of these crossovers gives us a glimpse of what might have been had the Marvel U continued from particular points in its history, a swan song of sorts, I'm assuming, before we see a more cohesive, and more linked to the MCU, Marvel Universe emerge after Secret Wars. Though there have been hints that these are all parts of parallel universes, Marvel has traditionally avoided that trope more strenuously than their Distinguished Competition - these are more glimpses of the past, What If worlds, rather than Elseworlds, I suppose.

I'm interested to see where this all goes. Every now and then someone reinvents the X-Men, and pushes at the boundaries of what they're capable of, and of their potential to be truly innovative and versatile story telling tools. But then they'll often go right back to being Claremont/Byrne era shells, lacking in substance and vision, and telling the same old stories all over again. It's nice to see a what might have been.

More X-shenanigans tomorrow! I've missed the mutants since we wrapped up the AoA. It'll be nice to hang out with them for a few more days.

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