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Mar 28

Extraordinary X-Men #20

Posted on Tuesday, March 28, 2017 by Paul in x-axis

Where Uncanny X-Men struggled for a sense of resolution in its final issue, Extraordinary X-Men has no such problems.

Of course, it has several advantages over Uncanny.  Of the three X-Men titles from the outgoing era, this was the lead title, the one about the actual X-Men in the actual school.  All-New was a time-travelling second team of X-Men and Uncanny was X-Force hoping to sell a few more copies.  But Extraordinary was the X-Men taking refuge in Limbo while they hunted for a cure for the Terrigen Mists.  Ill-advised as that direction may have been, it was embedded in this series.  And so the end of IvX genuinely closes the door on this chapter of the X-Men.

There are other advantages.  Writer Jeff Lemire is not coming back for the relaunch.  This is a shame, in some ways.  Considering the unpromising remit which he was given, he’s made the best of it, and it would have been nice to see him get a chance to handle the X-Men without the literal cloud hanging over them.  But then again, perhaps not.  For years now, Lemire has been producing indie books which are consistently great, and superhero books which are consistently good to middling.  Creatively, he’s probably better served on an oddball title like Moon Knight (which, from what I’ve seen of it, is practically an extended fever dream) than he is adjusting to the demands of a central franchise.  He can do it, it just doesn’t bring out the best in him.  Interestingly, Lemire’s Old Man Logan – which he’s staying with, and which has a more eccentric and distinctive tone to it – has been outselling the X-Men titles for a while now, at least in the direct market.


Lemire has also made matters easier for himself by keeping the subplots to a minimum and largely wrapping them up.  Okay, Glob Herman’s pining for Jean Grey never really went anywhere, but it never really needed to – it worked just fine as a character thing for him.  Lemire’s major subplot, the Sapna storyline, hasn’t exactly resolved, but it has been brought to a turning point which feels like a suitable time to pass the character on.

That leaves the whole idea of the X-Men being camped out in Limbo hiding from the Terrigen Mists, which, obviously, is now over.  And so this final issue consists of the X-Men quite literally dismantling their status quo and going home.  Job done, challenge overcome, win for the good guys.  It’s not a tone that the X-Men get to hit very often, and while you couldn’t exactly call this subtle – it’s full of “it’s good to smile again” dialogue – it does at least feel earned.  Victor Ibañez has always been good at bringing out the human side of the characters, and that surely helps strike the right tone here.

You can’t spend an entire issue on packing up and going home, of course, so part of the book is given over to tying up one last loose end – retrieving Cerebra after she was battered during the crossover.  That gives us a few pages of fighting wild Sentinels (which Ibañez also handles nicely), and allows Lemire to quietly tie up the question of where Emma got her killer robots from.  It’s a case of dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s, but it helps the finality.

Finally, we’re left with the school deserted aside from the X-Men themselves, and because this is all about reasserting a return to normalcy, Lemire winds up his run with a couple of pages of baseball.  This trope occasionally gets wheeled out just as a way of signalling that you are indeed reading the X-Men, but Lemire is using it correctly here – the point of the baseball games was that the school was a little haven of normalcy in which, somehow or other, Everything Is Going To Be Alright.  Wrapping up an X-Men run on an unambiguously optimistic note for once, Lemire can invoke it fair and square.

It’s unfamiliar to see the X-Men in such positive mood, though anything looks like a step in the right direction when you’ve just fended off the poison gas cloud.  There’s a limit to how far you can take it in an ongoing series – there has to be a conflict, after all – but it would be nice to hope that we can finally close the door on these extinction level threats and get the X-Men back to the sort of stories they do well.  Maybe we can get back to the idea of the mutants as the dawning future, and get some much-needed hope into the mix again.

Bring on the comments

  1. SanityOrMadness says:

    > Interestingly, Lemire’s Old Man Logan – which he’s staying with…

    No, no he isn’t.

    Ed Brisson’s replacing him.

  2. Paul says:

    Ah, that’s a shame. Still, at least he says he’s concluding the storyline as planned.

  3. Voord 99 says:

    “Extended fever dream” is indeed a pretty accurate description of his Moon Knight.

    I’m enjoying it quite a bit. It’s got the problem that all attempts to revive Moon Knight do, that it’s haunted by this sense of “This should be important! And impressive! Because Moench/Sienkewicz, damn you!” (See also Miller, Daredevil.). And I’ve never gotten around to reading that original material thoroughly, and suspect, from the little that I have sampled, that there may be an element of “You had to be there” to really get it.

    But it’s fun, and it really leans into the Egyptianness of it all, with some beautiful images. It’s one of those things where even if you aren’t at all invested in these characters (because you weren’t there), it does a good job of signposting where you’re supposed to be invested in them, so you can go along for the ride.

    As for Lemire’s X-Men stuff: I think there’s a gap at the center where a really compelling depiction of Storm should be. Which is odd. Is there any X-character so beloved by so many readers who has seemed so marginal to the X-books in the last 15 or so years, even when she’s in a leading role (in both senses)? Even when they are very obviously trying (the mohawk, for God’s sake) to replicate the way in which ’80s Storm drove so much of the story.

  4. Person of Con says:

    I totally agree that, aside from the short-lived Pak solo series, Storm has been both weirdly central and weirdly underdeveloped in the X-Men line in the past few years. With Wolverine and Cyclops out of the picture, she seems to have become X-leader more out of default than any particular desire or goal on her part.

  5. wwk5d says:

    “With Wolverine and Cyclops out of the picture, she seems to have become X-leader more out of default than any particular desire or goal on her part.”

    I always felt she should have been the rival to Scott during Schism, but marketing seemed to think otherwise.

  6. Voord 99 says:

    Even the Pak series (and things like the marriage to Black Panther, which was a big deal at the time), while they give Storm a certain level of prominence, shove her off to the side within the X-books themselves.

  7. Mo Walker says:

    @wwk5d – Marvel Marketing is the best at what it does bub, coming up with crossover gimmicks.

    I really did not care for Lemire’s X-Men run but at least he landed the plane without crashing it. Paul is right. Lemire’s track record on DC/Marvel franchises especially teams is very shaky. Extraordinary X-Men is better than his run on Justlice League Unlimited. I think Lemire’s Justice League Dark was very enjoyable.

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