Review: X-Treme X-Men #6 by Greg Pak, Stephen Segovia, & Raul Valdes

X-Treme X-Men #6

Written by: Greg Pak
Pencilled by: Stephen Segovia & Raul Valdes
Inked by Dennis Cristostomo & Lorenzo Ruggiero
Coloring by Jessica Kholinne & Chris Sotomayor
Lettering by: VC’s Joe Sabino

Published by: Marvel
Cover Price: $2.99

Note: This review is for the digital version of the comic available from Marvel Comics on Comixology

Warning! This review contains quite a few spoilers!

The second time I had gotten back into reading comics was in the summer of 2001. Around the same time, Judd Winick was launching a new series at Marvel called Exiles. At the time, I really was trying pretty much everything that came out to find new comics to read. I hadn’t really read much by Winick at the time. The idea of “X-Men meets Sliders” seemed like something that really could have been kind of terrible, but I love supporting quirky ideas.

From the first issue, I was hooked. Winick had constructed deep alternate versions of minor X-Men characters, and spun a damn brilliant story around them. Even when Winick left the book, I still thought Chuck Austen and Tony Bedard did a real good job with the idea. I actually didn’t read much of Claremont’s run, though I haven’t heard a lot of good things.

When Exiles Vol. 2 launched in 2009 at the time, I wasn’t really reading comics, but I still felt I had to check it out. Sadly, this series got yanked after 6 issues. Which was unfortunate, because I thought it was a good evolution of the Exiles concept. At that point, I had basically considered Exiles a great comic that had run its course and never expected to see Marvel try again.

But, in Astonishing X-Men a few months ago, Greg Pak slipped in a little back door pilot to bring back the idea of a reality-hopping team of X-Men. Cyclops is kidnapped by an evil Xavier from another reality, and encounters a small group of heroes from scattered universe.  Pak did a great job with it, and apparently it was popular enough for Marvel to green light a return to an Exiles type of series…though this time it would have the terrible title of X-Treme X-Men. Groan.

X-Treme X-Men tells the story of a team of X-Men who are working to kill evil alternate reality Xaviers who are threatening to destroy the multiverse. The team consists of Governor General James Howlett (sort of a more gentlemanly take on Wolverine), Kurt Waggoner (a teenage version of Nightcrawler), Dazzler from the Marvel universe proper, and a severed head of another Charles Xavier. There was an Emma Frost on the team, but she decided to stay on one of the worlds they visited because she liked the idea of being worshipped as a goddess.

Summary (contains spoilers): After their last successful mission, as they were getting ready to travel on, Kurt had a sudden vision of his parents suffering on his world, so ends up separating from the team to head back home. This issue starts two years ago on Kurt’s world, and we find out that his world had been a kind of utopia…and a lot of it was because of Spider-Man.

But even in this Utopia, there are still people singled out for their looks. Kurt Waggoner is twelve years old, and is mocked by his classmates for his blue fur, and love of robots. Kurt seems to enjoy building robots because “They treat me like they treat everybody else.” While some of his classmates are tormenting him, suddenly some of those 16 million robot servants we mentioned earlier decide they have had enough, and stage a grand revolution. Kurt’s parents get him into hiding, tranquilizing him, determined to ensure he survives this. When Kurt wakes up, he finds the world has been decimated, and that was the first time he teleported. His powers allowed him to jump dimensions and that is how he hooked up with the X-Treme X-Men. Arriving back on his world, the robots have locked him up.

The rest of the team has jumped to a world of dinosaurs. They want to go find Kurt, but Floating Xavier Head refuses. Saying the mission must come first. Howlett understands FXH’s concerns, but tells him to get them back to Kurt or he is going to chop off more FXH bits. FXH sends them to Kurt’s world, but he is staying here determined to stay with the mission. Howlett and Dazzler arrive to find that they got here a few days after Kurt. They are quickly being hunted by robots, but their powers allow them to confuse the robots and get away. They track Kurt down to the “Founder’s Zoological Park.”

Meanwhile, a few miles away, Sage of the SWORD Truth and Reconciliation Commission is petitioning the robots for the release of Kurt Waggoner. The robots claim that Kurt is an invader from another dimension which makes him “not covered under their treaty with SWORD.” Apparently, SWORD has a treaty that allows them to remove humans from Earth. SWORD can rescue anyone they can fine in three years, and then have to leave in three years. The case is taken to an interstellar court for mediation. Nice to see bureaucracy at work even in a world of mass human genocide.

The issue ends with Dazzler and Howlett storming the zoo to rescue Kurt…which actually could make things worse with SWORD.

Review: In the old Exiles series, when there was an issue with just a single character on the cover, that comic was usually a tear-jerker. This issue of X-Treme X-Men with Kurt on the cover is no exception. Finding out Kurt’s past, and seeing what has become of his world since he left you can’t help but being depressed. I did like that the team decided to abandon their mission in order to rescue one of their own. In just a few issues and missions, we have really watched this team come together.  That said, it is strange that the team is only four characters.  I really hope they pick up a few more strays.  I have always enjoyed bigger superhero teams.

The best part of this issue was how thoughtful it was. It could have been so easy for Park to take easy ways out, but instead we are given a lot of depth in just 22 pages. Kurt’s world is a Utopia…but he is still abused for his looks. Some robots are looking to wipe out humanity…but the majority of robots just want to live their lives. I especially love how it can be applied to the real world. Sure, we could nuke our enemies or go to war with anyone who does things we don’t like…but there are a lot of innocents who would die in the process.

I also loved the characterization here. So much happens in this comic, but we still get a chance to learn some more of what Howlett’s life was back on his world. He was in love with Hercules, but “the queen’s law prohibited any man from loving another.” Dazzler’s reaction was another example of how much depth Pak slips into this issue:

One thing that did concern me about this series was the inclusion of Wolverine. I loved that Exiles seemed to avoid that obvious route, and seeing a version of Howlett in this series seemed like a cheap sales grab. Exiles even mocks the idea of Wolverine being on the team in a later issue which features a team of JUST WOLVERINES!

But I actually like this version of Howlett far more than I ever liked the mainsteam Wolverine. He still has an edge to him, but at the same time is more thoughtful and just has a really cool look to him. Pak really has done a great job of alleviating that concern, and he’s probably my favorite character in this series.

I also love the art on this series. Stephen Segovia gives each world a unique look, and the lifeless remains of Kurt’s world are done to powerful effect here. The last splash page with Dazzler, Howlett, and an unconscious Kurt fighting there way from the robots is just a perfect ending, especially when parallelled against the page before with robots trying to live their lives.

X-Treme X-Men is definitely a worthy successor to Exiles, which is high praise. Exiles was one of my favorite series for a long time, and I have enjoyed the first six issues of X-Treme X-Men as much as some of the best Exiles stories. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Final Score: 8.5 – X-Treme X-Men is a terrific comic, and by far better than any of the top ten selling comics that come out each month.

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