The X-men have a long and ... varied ... history under a variety of creators, but it took the film to drag them back into mass consciousness again - and apparently it took that to make Marvel Comics finally think about how it was going to handle the mutant 'menace' in the 21st Century.
Enter Grant Morrison - one of the finest comic book writers of recent years - responsible for the epic adult-oriented "Invisibles" and "Doom Patrol" as well as a spate of decent quality Justice League Stories.
Grant's usual technique is to return to first principles. He looks at a comic book - often with a long and multi-faceted history - and tries to determine what the core ideas are that lie behind the publication. In series like the X-men, these have often been seriously lost along the way. With E for Extinction he drags them all back into central focus.
The X-men are now self-appointed aid-workers, campaigners and pacificists - working for the benefit of mutant - and human - kind. Their school has been opened up and their agenda is now clear. They are to help, train, teach and save mutant children as well as fight those radical/terrorists elements within both their own ranks and those of humans.
And they've got quite a struggle on their hands as Morrison immediately ups the scale of the whole enterprise by exterminating sixteen million mutants in a few pages.
Just as he's restored the core premise of the series, he's also gone back to the centre of the main characters. Wolverine is sexy, mean, gruff and independant. Jean Grey is impossibly strong and empowered. Cyclops is logical and practical. But in doing so, he's not flattened their characters like so many other writers of late.
In essence you should think of Grant's X-men like the work of a PROPER writer coming onto a hackneyed title. The whole series seems energised and refreshed and this is a great jumping on place for people who've only seen the film - just as it is a well-timed relaunch...
on 12 January 2004
This is the first story arc in the Grant Morrison X-Men era, which by the way is getting to an end this year. Being one of those modern comic-book writers, Morrison provides the X-Men the fresh air the series had been needing for a long time. However, for many readers there is too much fresh air on this first volume.
If you are a mature X-Men reader, as I am myself, you will find 'E is for Extinction' odd, to say the least. Not only the character depictions and behaviors are a bit, let's say, surprising, but also you will find Frank Quitely's drawings too far from the classic Byrne, Romita Jr., Silvestri, or Lee's X-Men. But once you get used to the New X-Men situation and you scratch the surface of the bizarre drawings, you will learn to love this Morrison/Quitely era.
There are new situations going on here, which is positive because many years had passed since something relevant and smart happened to these people's lives (let's forget Onslaught and such.) There is a new evil villain, there is a former villain joining the X-Men, a problem in the staid Cyclops-Phoenix relationship (which will turn worse in the future) and many other things that set the basics of what will be the future stories in the next volumes. In his very beginning, Morrison introduces subplots that will develop further on and will not be forgotten. The only problem: he seems to forget everything that has happened before in this title, and that means ignoring forty years of story. This is good for the new comers, but will certainly annoy many people.
As for Quitely, he is one of the most original pencillers in superhero comic-books these days. He takes over the characters and redesigns them, not to say his storytelling is superb. If only he had been able to pencil at least half of the issues in his official stage at the title.
To sum up, this is a good superhero comic-book that some readers will find funny sometimes, especially when it seems you are not reading an X-Men book but some kind of widescreen title.
on 19 November 2001
This book reprints the first four issues of Morrison's rethink of the X-Men formula, and excellent stuff it is. The sheer scale both in terms of the storytelling and the number of ingenious ideas is quite astounding. His artistic collaborators deserve much of the credit though. Quitely's is an aquired taste, but his storytelling is stunning, as are the landscapes and characters he portrays. Van Sciver is less impressive, but the immense detail he inject into his work makes it almost as good in a different way.
For any trade-paperback enthusiasts, this is a book not to be missed. The production values are simply superior to everything that has come before. All of the regular covers are shown at the start of their original issues, not a page is wasted, and the glossy paper is far improved compared to the original pamphlet format.
Also of interest is the "Morrison Manifesto", an eleven page document (accompanied by character sketches) detailing Morrison's original plans for the title. It is interesting to compare this to the story within and see where the story has been tightened, or in some cases completely rethought.
A fascinating take on the 'classic superhero', if you've ever been even vaguely interested in the X-Men, this is the perfect starting point.
You might want to look out for the follow-ups, which will likely be released at some point over the next year: "Germ Free Generation", and "Imperial".
on 14 March 2013
This story is O.K. What is good is the ideas. There are some really interesting ones, such as the fact that the villain seems to have no desire except to destory everything. Also, big, irreversable things do happen (I won't mention what in case of spoilers). However, the action is nothing special and, worse than that, this feels like half a book. I really don't know why this "novel" finishes when it does, as to me it seems to be reaching about the halfway point, and therefore having this without New X-Men: Imperial seems slightly pointless. Still, it is an enjoyable read and Cassandra Nova is a terrifying villain.
on 15 October 2013
The main appeal of this book was how they were going to deal with 16 million mutants being wiped out, however this is dealt with in about two pages and is mostly of Professor X in Cerebro realising that the mutant population is rapidly decreasing, this was a bit of a disappointment but the fallout from this event is done very well and was enjoyable.
As usual, this one ends on a cliffhanger so if you want a contained story look elsewhere.