Graphic Novel Review: Extraordinary X-Men: X-Haven/All-New X-Men Inevitable: The Ghosts of Cyclops
PUBLISHED: 13:23 20 June 2016 | UPDATED: 13:23 20 June 2016
Still hated. Still feared. Still standing. The fate of mutantkind is decided here! Staring down the threat of extinction once more, veteran X-Man Storm pulls together the team she'll need to ensure her race's survival. Together, these Extraordinary X-Men will struggle with the familiar burden of being hated and feared, while facing threats the likes of which they've never seen. Here's hoping they survive the experience! Collecting Extraordinary X-Men #1-6.
Hated and feared more than ever, the world is a dangerous place for mutants. As the few remaining X-Men retreat into seclusion, a handful of mutant teenagers refuse to allow their destiny to be decided for them. Cyclops. Beats. Iceman. Angel. The all-new Wolverine. Kid Apocalypse. Oya. Stepping out of the shadows of their predecessors, the All-New X-Men are striking out on their own, determined to write their own futures! Collecting All-New X-Men Vol. 2 #1-5
It really doesn’t seem that long since we had the last major new direction for the X-Men line, when Brian Michael Bendis brought the original teenaged line-up into the present day and set the contemporary Cyclops on a path as mutant terrorist leader.
Although the consequences of these developments have yet to be fully revealed, due in part to an eight-month jump in between series, we are made aware that Cyclops died following a bloody confrontation with the Inhumans, and mutants are now more unpopular than ever…
It seems as though the release of the transforming Terrigen Mists into the atmosphere, the same vapours which give the Inhumans their powers, has had a devastating effect on the mutant community, both sterilising them and leaving them susceptible to the debilitating “M-pox” plague… It is this double blow which has forced mutantkind to take drastic steps to avoid further persecution and suffering.
Or so you’d think from reading Extraordinary X-Men, which reveals how the X-Men have created “X-Haven”, a refuge for mutants in the hell-like Limbo dimension once controlled by the demon Belasco, and have been tasked with a new mission to rescue and retrieve mutants in need across the planet.
In contrast, All-New X-Men – focusing mainly on the time-tossed teenage versions of the original X-Men - barely mentions the plague, and not only are its protagonists certainly not effected by the Terrigen cloud, but they don’t experience anywhere near the same levels of mutant intolerance as witnessed by their Extraordinary colleagues, enjoying something of a road trip vibe as they visit different cities across the world…
Presumably there is some level of editorial control over the X-Men range of titles which should be tackling inconsistencies like this, or maybe I’m jumping the gun and further explanations for the different statuses of the two teams will be revealed later. As it stands though, it’s a confusing contrast and doesn’t create the feeling of a “shared universe” between the various X-Men squads.
That said, both books offer refreshing relaunches, albeit of totally different tones, and prove there’s still a lot of scope in the mutant concept despite Marvel’s policy of promoting the Inhumans at the X-Men’s expense these days.
The Extraordinary team include stalwarts Storm, Magik, Colossus, Iceman and a somewhat confused Nightcrawler, but also add the teenage Marvel Girl and the futuristic “Old Man Logan” to their ranks, making for a quirky line-up with plenty of potential for internal conflict and drama.
This initial collection establishes the X-Haven concept, but also reintroduces an old adversary who has taken drastic steps to adapt to the new world order, actions which could cost the lives of three X-Men and opens up the mutants’ other-dimensional hideaway to attack by hoards of demons… It’s a strong start from writer Jeff Lemire and artist Humberto Ramos, with the new direction set up well and creating an inevitability of extinction that mutantkind has not witnessed since the events of House of M…
Meanwhile, over in the All-New camp, there’s much more fun and frolics to be had, albeit interspersed with pretty intense drama and characterisation, much of it revolving around the young Scott Summers, who is striving to escape the shadow of his now deceased older self.
This isn’t helped by the appearance of the “Ghosts of Cyclops”, mutant activists inspired by the deeds of the dead X-Man, who are now progressing into acts of terrorism…
Following in the footsteps of Brian Michael Bendis, new writer Dennis Hopeless actually seems to have a narrative direction in place, aided by Mark Bagley on visuals at his usual high standard of creativity.
Two books of very different tones and approaches, but both with many merits worth recognising. A confident and exciting new beginning for Marvel’s mutants, which definitely warrants further investment.