The issue opens, twenty years in the future, with a shot of a cloaked figure striding across the ruins of The Xavier Institute in Central Park. Behind the school, the tattered skyline reveals the detritus of war. There are several corpses scattered around – most notably one belonging to an older Anole.
On the next page, the figure kneels above the bodies of Storm, Colossus, Kitty, and Beast. When the figure speaks, it is to say, ‘None of this is right. That old bastard screwed this all up. Leaving me to clean up his mess.’
He vanishes in a flash of light.
The next page opens in our own time with a shot of a pair of grey-skinned children, huddling together in an alley. They are being hunted by a mob of Trumpian anti-mutant ‘protesters’ who are teetering on the knife-edge of violence. Before the racist mob can reach them, the time-displaced original X-Men (and Bloodstorm) step in and rescue them, sweeping the children off to the Xavier Institute where the children are examined by Cecilia Reyes, who confirms that they are healthy, but essentially tabula rasa in terms of memory. Beyond that, they know nothing except that the children appear to be French.
Kitty agrees that they should stay in the Institute, and Teen Jean asks that she be kept posted about any further developments.
Following this, the scene shifts to a Thai restaurant in the city. Tyke is in the middle of a sweet (if PAINFULLY awkward) first date with Bloodstorm (who reminds. him, gently, that she doesn’t need to eat) but that ends when the plate glass window behind them explodes admitting Ahab and two of his ‘hounds’.
Scott says that he’s never seen Ahab before, but that the hounds remind him of Rachel. He doesn’t have time to say more before the fighting begins.
He and Bloodstorm battle with the hounds, sending tables flying everywhere, but before either can be subdued, Ahab spears the vampire through the heart.
Ahab sends his hounds after Scott, but the boy unleashes the full force of his eye-beams and sends the antagonists flying back out onto the street.
Ahab knows when to make an exit. He teleports away in a flash of light and Scott screams after him, futilely, before returning to Bloodstorm, picking up her body, and calling in a code blue to the other X-Men.
The call goes out and the O5 come running. Bobby was interrupted watching Hamilton, and he slides out of the theatre on his ramp of ice. Before he reaches the institute, he is stopped by an energy blast from our friend in the cloak. Bobby lands inside a clothing store, but he isn't alone. He's met by Cable, who informs him that ‘the future depends on' him getting back to the Mansion.
Bobby responds by creating a pack of ice duplicates and sending them out in the hopes of confusing their foe, but it doesn't work. He's hit by a blast of white light.
We don't see him fall.
Back in the Mansion, Tyke confronts Rachel about the man who attacked him. Rachel tells him about her past as a Hound and extrapolates that thi is why her facial tattoos have returned – a nice touch which makes some use of the events that have been going on in Gold over the last year.
Back in the clothing store, Cable is telling Bobby (who lies on the floor, shuddering, with an electrical dart in his neck) that he has him, that it will be ok, but the cloaked figure attacks him before Cable can move and they struggle with each other across the floor.
Back in the Mansion Teen Jean is scanning for Bobby with Cerebro. She identifies him, and Cable, but the third figure is using a psi-shield so she can’t identify the person. They appear, to her mind, as a void.
Back in the.store, the figure blasts Cable in the chest with two handguns, saying, ‘Old fool. You really should have seen that coming.’
Back in Cerebro, Jean's grief knocks everyone flat.
When they arrive at the store, Rachel's agony at the sight of the body summons Jean Grey (who teleports in via the auspices of a handsomely-bearded Nightcrawler) and the two, the mother that never was and the daughter who cannot be, share a tender moment while Kurt tells Scott that Bloodstorm's death will not go unanswered.
Distance is no problem when you're friends with a teleporter.
Jean swears vengeance, too, and Kitty tells them all that two dead X-Men in a matter of hours cannot be coincidence, but if the second killer was not Ahab, then she doesn't know who it could be.
The final two pages take place in an undisclosed location. There are a series of five ominous people-sized tubes lined up against a wall. One of the tubes (lit with an orange glow) contains the body of Bobby. His kidnapper finishes entering a stream of data onto a computer. He says, ‘One down,’ before turning to face us.
It's Cable, looking as he would have done as a young man. He finishes the thought, ‘Four to go.’
Behind him, the screen flashes with the faces of the remaining time-displaced X-Men. And that's the hook that we'll all be dangling on for the next week.
We’ve always known that the O5 would have to return to their own time. It’s been clear, from the start, that the order of the (Marvel) universe would have to be restored. The question has always been one of ‘how’ than ‘why’. Now, we get to find out.
So far, we’ve witnessed the deaths of two X-Men. I suspect that one of these deaths will turn out to be permanent and the other will not. Cable is too important a.character to throw out permanently – even in exchange for a younger replacement. Also, since time travel is involved in this, we can expect that his death will be conveniently undone before the series ends.
Bloodstorm’s death, on the other hand, will likely be permanent. She’s been either a get-out-of-jail-free card or else a narrative inconvenience throughout her time in Blue and it’s been pretty clear that the writer hasn’t really known what to do with her, so using her death to fuel the action of this book makes a certain amount of sense – even if it does fall back on the problematic trope of shoving a difficult woman into a refrigerator so that her death will serve to motivate a man.
On the other hand, the interaction between Adult Jean and Rachel Grey (the daughter who might have been) was rather beautiful. Jean and Rachel had a rocky start, but they’ve grown closer over the years, to the point that Jean left instructions for Rachel to take up the mantle of Marvel Girl when she died…the last time. In this story, they shared a moment of deep and tender grief over the death of a man who was family to both of them. This was a refreshing change from Jean’s hostile reaction to Rachel in the last issue of Gold. It’s clear that Brisson, like Tom Taylor, has a grip on who Jean is as a character, and that makes me hopeful that this series will do justice to all of the characters that appear within it.
Teen Jean gets some bad news.
Now, let’s talk about the art. I think that Larraz has a flair for the dramatic. There were a great many arresting layouts in this book, especially during fight scenes, and the inker contributed a great deal to the effect with the judicious use of chiaroscuro. The character designs were good. There was sufficient variety among the faces of the women (a weak point among many artists in this medium) and this was even more difficult to manage in this case, since so many of the leads are closely related.
May I just say, also, that Nightcrawler looks absolutely delicious with that beard? I know that Mahmud Asrar designed it (letting him do it was a good move, Marvel) and I’m very glad to see Kurt’s new look appearing in other books.
All in all, it was a fun, well-balanced romp, which will have serious repercussions for the rest of the franchise. Some of the upcoming plot points are easy to predict (it’s clear, for instance, what the conflict was between old and young Nate, and what it is that Kid Cable is planning to do) but in stories like this, the destination of the plot is secondary to the route the tellers take to get there. It looks like we’re taking the scenic route.on this journey. It’s best to sit back and enjoy it.
This was a dramatic and arresting introduction to a series which will certainly have repercussions for all of the X-Books.
Extermination #1 We All Fall Down
- Writing - 9/109/10
- Storyline - 9/109/10
- Art - 9/109/10
- Color - 9/109/10
- Cover Art - 9/109/10
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