X-Tinction Agenda #2 Review: Good Old Fashioned Mutant On Mutant Violence


X-Tinction Agenda #2
Writer: Guggenheim, Marc
Artist: Di Giandomenico, Carmine
Cover Artist: Nakayama, David
Published by Marvel

The more I read of the Secret Wars tie-ins, the more obvious it becomes that, so far, very little of what happens has anything to do with the larger narrative of altered realities, destroyed worlds, Beyonders and Dr. Doom. The use of the term “tie-in” is a bit of a misnomer. Moreover, many of these titles are as weak as this weekend’s box office numbers for Terminator: Genisys. The stories are overly convoluted, and there is some pedestrian artwork out there. Having said all that, of the tie-in titles released so far, there have been some successes. I am happy to report that X-Tinction Agenda has shaped into one of the better offerings.

Much of what works about X-Tinction Agenda is the masterful work of the artist, Carmine Di Giandomenico. His action sequences — which there are a whole lot of — are dense and kinetic. He understands perspective and uses it for maximum effect, giving us, as readers, the best seat to watch the show. His characters are fun to look at; in both body and face, his understanding and execution of rendering the human (mutant!) form shows a sophistication that raises the quality of the story above what it perhaps should be.

To date, it has been the story that has held this title back. The major tension, for example, is based on a rather flimsy premise: the mutants of Genosha have been left on their own to deal with the deadly X-Tinction Plague. What strikes me as flimsy about this premise is that the X-Men have always treated their members like family. Leaving a large contingent to battle alone does not fit with that time-worn facet of our favorite mutants. Considering the potential for a pandemic as well, it is hard to believe the Genoshans would have been left on their own. But it is this situation that gives rise to the key conflict so far: the Genoshans have decided to raid X-City, home of their estranged brothers in arms. They believe that if they can kidnap certain mutants, they will be able to beat back the plague and stabilize their nation.

Most of X-Tinction Agenda #2 shows us the raid as an extended battle. Though outnumbered, the ferocity — and perhaps desperation — with which Havok and his team fight overcomes the X-City mutants. This battle reminds me how the X-Teams used to fight (and still do from time to time!) one another back in the early 90’s: X-Factor vs. X-Men vs. X-Force, etc., etc. In almost every instance these mutant on mutant fights were based on some simple misunderstanding that could have been figured out before it came to blows. Of course, there is no fun in that. And the successful sales the X-books generated in the late 80’s and early 90’s would seem to support that. Fans loved to see X-Men fight each other.

And I admit, I got a kick out of seeing iterations of Havok, Nightcrawler, Phoenix and the rest that were “retired” almost 20 years ago. For as bloated as the X-universe became in the mid-to-late 90’s, it was these characters that we see in X-Tinction Agenda #2 that would catapult the X-Men books into a worldwide phenomenon. Seeing these versions in battle against each other is like running into old friends. I would have thought they may have evolved past were I left them all those years ago, but regardless, it is good to see them.

From Marvel:

"* The Secret Wars sequel to the landmark inaugural X-Crossover continues!* In desperate need of a cure for their people, Havok, Wolfsbane and the Press Gang have invaded X-City.* As old friends become new enemies, the war to save Genosha from extinction is on!"

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