Monday, February 29, 2016

Extraordinary X-Men #3 (HERE BE SPOILERS!)

Lemire is really on a roll here.

First, he makes it clear that the X-Men's situation is d-i-r-e.  Forge tells Storm that he needs at least a week to get the shield that he's creating for X-Haven operational, but they clearly don't have a week as the demons of Limbo pour into the grounds.  As a result, Storm spends most of the issue screaming at him to move faster while trying to marshal her meager forces against the horde.  In better news for Storm, Bobby reveals that he's created and stored a snowman army called the Cold Locker in the basement of X-Haven.  (Honestly, it's possibly the most amazing moment of the "All-New, All-Different" era.)  However, he's quickly pushed to his limits in sending them against the demons, prompting Storm to start yelling at him, too.  Meanwhile, she recruits Anole and Glob Herman, to their awe and delight, to get X-Haven's refugees to safety.  She finally gets a break when the girl that Magik rescued from India last issue appears to be able to control demons.  However, it barely helps stem the tide.  Thankfully, Jean has convinced Logan to join the X-Men with her, promising that she'll let him know if he's imminently going to lose control.  With their arrival, the X-Men start a renewed push against the demons.

In reality, though, this issue really isn't about the demons.  They're just the MacGuffin.  It's really about the X-Men's personalities and relationships, and it's where Lemire really, really shines.

First, Lemire creates a great dynamic between young Jean and old Logan.  It could obviously be super-weird, and it is, in its own way.  But, it also somehow gets past the tired narrative of Logan's unrequited love for Jean.  I loved Jean screaming at Logan to pull himself together.  It felt real, in the sense that it wasn't just for dramatic effect.  Logan had just hit a sore spot, telling her that the Universe always corrects itself:  he's destined to kill the X-Men, and she's destined to die.  It's why he refuses to join the X-Men.  As a result, she promptly tells him to go &%*^ himself.  She insists that she has control over her life, and she tells him that he's a coward to hide behind destiny and fate.  It's an impassioned speech, and Lemire really sells it, because he makes the emotions behind it so clear.  Logan also clearly buys it, too, since he agrees to help.

Moreover, Storm is amazing here.  I mean, she's the best that I think that I've ever seen her.  She can't afford to give Bobby and Forge any quarter as she pushes them to the brink of their abilities.  They want credit from her for trying, and she want them to move faster.  She's all, "DO YOU NOT SEE THE DEMON HORDE?"  I loved (loved!) Forge asking her if she remembers when they were in love and she'd talk sweetly to him.  Her response that it was an increasingly distant memory was just amazing.  Most authors barely give Storm a personality, taking the Ice Queen approach with her.  But, in just two issues, Lemire gives us the best Storm that we've seen in ages (if ever).  She's a tough general who knows what she needs to do to protect her soldiers and get the best from them.  She's also privately struggling with the overwhelming odds that she faces; in fact, she finds herself seeing hallucinations of Professor X exhorting her to perform in the same way that she's demanding of her teammates.  (At least, we assume that it's a hallucination...)  But, she's also a real person as the moments of humor that we rarely see from her shows us.  For the first time in a long time, we finally get a fully rounded Storm that reminds us why she's one of the most loved and feared X-Men of all time.  To me, my X-Men, indeed.

Finally, we also learn that Scott died attacking the Inhumans.  I will say that it's probably time for us to actually get the story about Scott.  I mean, we still haven't even learned what the hell he was doing in "Secret Wars" #1, where he had some sort of control of Cerebro eggs or something.  It's starting to get old.  But, the Scott issue is clearly a Marvel one, not a Lemire one.  Lemire himself has delivered one of the best issues of the X-Men that I've read in ages, and I can't wait to see where this series goes once he settles into his stride.

**** (four of five stars)

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