Comic Review – “New X-Men Vol. 1: E is for Extinction”

This seems to be the most highly-regarded X-title of
the past few years. Does it live up to the hype?

General Information

Title: New X-Men Vol. 1: E is for Extinction

Author: Grant Morrison

Illustrator(s): Frank Quietly, Ethan van Sciver, and
Leinil Francis Yu.

Original Publication Date: 2002 reprint of material
first published in

Issues included: New X-Men 114-117, and New X-Men
Annual 1.

ISBN: 0-7851-0811-4

Cover Price: $12.95 US, $20.75 Can

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Past comic reviews can be found here.


Humans have evolved again, this time into a species
that feeds on
mutants. One of these mutant hunters has restarted
the Sentinel program.

There seems to be a few things going on here that
aren’t recapped very
well. I picked this up based on Morrison’s
reputation (along with his
second New X-Men volume, Imperial, and have ordered
two of his JLA
TPBs) without having read the title in some time. In
fact, there are
about 100 issues worth of material between this and
the last time I
read the title. A recap page at the beginning would
have been nice,
particularly since this is labelled “Vol. 1” and so
obviously has
material that comes before it.

High Point

The Wolverine / Domino interaction in the Annual.
These two make a
really good team. (It’s nice to see an Annual that
has long-term
implications, too, especially after the ones I read
in this
the other

It’s also nice to see some mutants showing up with
powers that are
worthless in combat.

Low Point

There seems to be a lot left unresolved after issue
116, and yet, an
annual and issue 117 later, there’s no real change.

The Scores

The originality is hard to judge fairly,
since I’m so
unfamiliar with what has been going on with these
characters between
1993 and this. I see a few things that are probably
starting here,
though, such as the relationship between Cyclops and
Emma that’s
continuing in current Astonishing X-Men,
Emma’s secondary
mutation, the expansion of Xavier’s school population
into some
non-combat mutants, and the revelation that motivates
the title for
the collection. I give it 5 out of 6.

The artwork is Frank Quietly. I know he’s
worked with
Morrison often, so they can play to each other’s
styles, and that he’s
very highly regarded. Personally, I don’t much care
for his work
here. These characters just don’t look like the
X-Men I know.
Cyclops in particular is off. I don’t think I’d have
recognized him
without the visor. Xavier and Jean also look off.
I’ve never seen
Beast like this before, but the nature of the
character makes it hard
to mistake him for anyone else. If these were my
first exposures to
the characters, I’d probably have enjoyed the art
more. It wasn’t
bad, it just wasn’t consistent with everthing I’ve
seen from the 40
year history that preceeds this title. I give it 4
out of 6.

The story is good, although it’s lacking
resolution, as
mentioned above. Even if that resolution does come
later, not putting
it right after issue 116 cheapens the impact of what
happened in that
issue. This should have felt like a war, but the
rapid return to
status quo undermines that. I give it 4 out of 6.

The characterization is also inconsistent
with the way I
remember these characters, particulary when Cyclops
and Wolverine are
dealing with the civilian. Emma Frost works,
accepting that someone
else has made her a hero at some point, but the
others seem nastier
than before. In some cases, that’s well motivated,
but not in all of
them. I give it 4 out of 6.

The emotional response was going strong
until the Annual
started. I’m still waiting for the resolution of
what’s happening
in 116. The annual and 117 would have been very
enjoyable if there
weren’t this war-starting event going on with little
or no story time
devoted to it. I give it 4 out of 6.

The flow works well, with the now-standard
“where’s the
missing revolution” objection. I give it 5 out of 6,
since that
problem is really a story problem, and this category
is based mainly
(but not entirely) on the artwork.

Overall, it’s got some interesting ideas,
and makes some
significant changes, but it’s not consistent with
what I remember the
X-Men being. Maybe there were more changes in that
100 issue gap than
I would expect, but it still reads oddly. At any
rate, my reviews of
subsequent Morrison volumes will use this as a
starting point, so that
shouldn’t be as much of a factor later. I give this
4 out of 6.

In total, New X-Men Vol. 1: E is for
receives 30
out of 42.