Wednesday, August 12, 2015



[This review originally appeared on Patreon.]

WRITER: Chris Burnham
ARTIST: Ramon Villalobos
COLORS: Ian Herring
LETTERS: VC's Clayton Cowles
COVER: Ian Bertram with Dave Stewart
36pp, Color, $4.99 U.S. (August 2015)

“Relax and Be Replaced

Rated T+

When the Chris Claremont-John Byrne run on The Uncanny X-Men came to an end with the epilogue that was issue #143 (cover date:  March 1981), it was if the series were waiting for the next great thing to happen to it... at least, I can see that in hindsight.  But nothing great, at least in any sustained way, happened... until two decades later.

Grant Morrison began his tenure as an X-Men writer on New X-Men #114 (cover date:  July 2001) with the three-part story, “E is for Extinction.”  It took 20 years, but I think that this was the next great step for the X-Men after landmark run produced by Byrne-Claremont.  With his partner, artist Frank Quitely, changing the graphical storytelling language of the X-Men, Morrison tore down the X-Men and allowed them to make the next big evolutionary leap for which the series had been straining to make in the aftermath of “The Dark Phoenix Saga.”

Alas, it was not to be, even Morrison could not recreate that spark-as-big-bang that was “E is for Extinction.”  It did not help that Quitely was (and still is) not the kind of artist that can produce art for a monthly publishing schedule past three issues.  And truthfully, Quitely was Morrison's equal in taking the X-Men to new places.  After New X-Men #114-116, the series was quirky and different, but hardly revolutionary or evolutionary, for that matter.  The New X-Men never fully reached the promise offered by “E is for Extinction.”

2015:  Marvel Comics is revamping or relaunching its publishing line.  But first, they are going to make lots of money with the multiverse destroying event miniseries, Secret Wars, and a veritable fleet of tie-in and spin-off comic book series.  Each series is set in a part of “Battleworld,” which is all that is left of the multiverse.  I am ignoring those comics for the most part but...

I could not ignore the cover for a comic book entitled E is for Extinction.  This “Secret Wars Battleworld” comic book takes Morrison and Quitely's classic story and takes it to new places, much as the original once did for the X-Men comic book.   E is for Extinction is drawn by Ramon Villalobos, who is copying Quitely's style in the best way.  Ian Herring provides colors, and Clayton Cowles is the letterer.  Best of all, the writer of E is for Extinction is Chris Burnham.  He is the artist and co-creator with Grant Morrison of the comic book, Nameless (published by Image Comics).  Like Quitely, Burnham is brilliant at taking the craziness of Morrison's writing and translating it into comic book art that does more than just tell a story.  Burnham creates new worlds of new times and new essences.

It is Burnham who takes the possibilities of  “E is for Extinction” the story arc and delivers on that potential with E is for Extinction the comic book.  E is for Extinction #1 (“Relax and Be Replaced”) opens with the event that give Magneto victory over Charles Xavier – Professor X.  “X years later,” Magneto guides the New X-Men from “The Xavier Memorial Educational Nexus” a.k.a. “The Atom Institute.”  He has a new attitude about the future of homo superior and normal humans, and he's got something growing in the basement to serve his cause.

When he isn't at home in District X, the Beast is at “Mutopia Medical Center,” where he can tell normal human men how many of their sperm carry the “X-gene.”  Meanwhile, at the Xavier Institute for Higher Learning, Cyclops and Emma Frost are living as X-Men-past, as their powers dim.  They have a plan to get their mojo back, but it means they need to get the band back together...

Ramon Villalobos brings Chris Burnham's story to life as the kind of comic book storytelling that refuses to be ordinary.  Villalobos makes Quitely's style practical and also visually striking and bracing.  I am flabbergasted.  I wanted to read this E is for Extinction comic book, but I did not expect to get this fantastic comic book that keeps me flipping through it pages.

I have more praise for it, but I better save it for issue #2.


Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux

The text is copyright © 2015 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact the author for syndication rights and fees.

No comments:

Post a Comment