X-termination marches on in one of the most unsung (and sadly not long for this world) titles in Marvel’s catalog. Of course Age of Apocalypse can’t just focus on the X-Terminated, those happy few who led a guerrilla revolution against Age of Apocalypse Wolverine, as their team is missing a leader, Prophet, who was shunted to the 616 universe. That diversity of cast turns out to be one of the book’s best qualities. Seeing characters from such different backgrounds, as well as dimensions, having to work together is one of the treats of the vast superhero landscapes that Marvel has constructed and this book does not disappoint.
Let me just say that we've often made it clear on the podcast that we’re not fans of art that changes mid-issue, but I’m willing to make an exception for when it’s used to communicate different moods/universes and this book does an absolutely amazing job of doing just that. Renato Arlem’s more muddy, hard-edged visuals are right at home in the Age of Apocalypse while the brighter, softer Andre Arujo juxtaposes the 616 universe, letting us know that even at it’s most desperate, it’s not a bad place to be with the colorists (Lee Loughridge and Cris Peter) lend fantastic detail to both worlds.
Right off the bat, the writers (all 3 of the series’ mainstays Marjorie Liu, David Lapham and Greg Pak) let us know that old prejudices die hard with AoA Jean having great difficulty trusting X-Treme Cyclops, and formulating her own plan to get away with her dimension’s Nightcrawler, should the need arise. And even when the need does arise, another party has plans for the Apocalypse Seed that certainly doesn't have the best interests of either world at heart.
Hoo boy, this gets a little tricky as it involves a fairly substantial spoiler that may, in fact, not be any kind of spoiler at all. It doesn't need to be said whom, but there’s a very significant character death more than implied at one point in this book, and it’s a major mainstream Marvel character. This could very, very easily be a misdirection and I hope it is because the character deserves much better. I'm withholding total judgement until further issues of X-termination.
As much as I enjoyed the Age of Apocalypse characters, I was completely baffled by the X-Treme X-Men characters merely because I haven’t read any of their title (though I’ve been meaning to). Even the excellent recap at the book’s outset can’t cover the entire backstory of that team and I imagine someone in the opposite situation would feel similarly about my beloved AoA characters. This is definitely an event for insiders only.
Despite my criticism of the book being hard to understand if you’re not a fan of the two more obscure series, I also appreciate it on some level since both series are due for the chopping block. It only seems natural that the creative teams would want to send them off in a way that the people who helped support the books in the first place would appreciate, and even without that appreciation, the art and the writing are enough to stand firmly on their own and establish plenty. If you’re a fan of either (or both) Age of Apocalypse or X-Treme X-Men, this book is very much for you.