Marvel’s merry band of mutants have been noticeably less merry since the ‘All-New, All-Different Marvel’ (ANAD Marvel) launched in October. Extraordinary X-Men was criticized for being reductive in its storytelling, pitting the mutants against the threat of extinction yet again, and if that idea put you off of the book then issue 7 definitely won’t bring you back.
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Picking up where issue 6 left off with the bulk of the Extraordinary X-Men heading to Weirdworld (Rhink the Savage Land, but more savage and with magic.) to rescue mutants stranded there. Hints at what went down with Cyclops during the eight month gap between Secret Wars and ANAD Marvel continue to be thrown vaguely onto the field in the hopes that the reader even still cares, and even though a character with ties to Cyclops’ “incident” is reintroduced we still learn virtually nothing new. With the next arc being a crossover between the three major X-titles, don’t expect to learn much else any time soon, and at this point, what answer could even be satisfying?
While the Extraordinary X-Men fight whatever enemies Weirdworld can throw at them, Storm and Jean Grey remain at X-Haven delving into the mind of Nightcrawler, hoping to discover what caused his trauma. Traveling through Nightcrawler’s mind conjures up some of the most creative art of the series so far, and seeing teen Jean Grey and Storm work together in an all too rare team-up is fun, but it still doesn’t come even close to making up for the revelation of Nightcrawler’s trauma. The shock value for the sake of shock and quick resolution read more like a Mark Millar book than a Jeff Lemire one, leaving the reader to wonder what was accomplished other than to make the series needlessly darker.
Victor Ibanez’s more realistic art serves this mini-arc better than Humberto Ramos’ would have, and it’s just a shame this more grounded style didn’t help the story feel less ridiculous. Also, missing the opportunity to have Ramos’ interpretation of Weirdworld is a real shame.
While issue 6 succeeded by playing off of nostalgia, team dynamics, mystery, and quiet moments of characterization for smaller X-Men, issue 7 feels rushed and hollow. I hope I’m not alone when I say that I just want to see the X-Men happy and not barely escaping death in every panel. It’s also still upsetting to continually see the events of Avengers vs. X-Men overturned, which though an uneven event, had some powerful moments for the mutants of Earth 616. But this isn’t the 616 anymore, and those hopeful X-Men seemed to have died with the old universe.
As the X-Men head into the summer long “Apocalypse War” crossover next, maybe they’ll recapture some of what made them so enjoyable back in the day. Or maybe we’ll get another half-baked villain riding on the coattails of nostalgia like we did with Mister Sinister in the series’ first arc. Nevertheless, it’s nice to see Marvel seemingly helping to promote the upcoming X-Men: Apocalypse film even though the film rights belong to 20th Century Fox.