Can Marvel’s EXTERMINATION Streamline the X-MEN Universe?

Although the X-Men titles are constantly evolving (see what I did there?), Marvel Comics has just announced their biggest evolution in years is on its way. Well, their biggest evolution since the mutant gene was decimated leaving most mutants de-powered, or the biggest change since mutants came back. Or maybe the biggest change since the X-Men moved to Central Park? What did I say about the X-Men books constantly changing? Who can keep up?

Marvel just announced Extermination, a new event series debuting in August, from the creative team of writer Ed Brisson and artist Pepe Larraz, with covers by Mark Brooks. Brooks’ artwork shows the classic X-Men: Blue line-up apparently merging with their current adult counterparts, in a series that is probably looking to streamline the mutant universe. Since 2012, the long running X-Men characters have been sharing space with the original five X-Men, plucked from the past by the Beast. The O5, as they have been nicknamed, have been stranded in the future for some six years now. At first, this was a fun experiment, seeing how the younger X-Men would react to seeing their future selves, who are so wildly different. It was a breath of fresh air for the X-titles to be sure.

“It meant none of those deaths really mattered, even in the short term.”

But it has since become something of a chore, having two versions of each of the original five X-Men running around. It allowed Marvel to have their cake and eat it too — they could kill the adult Cyclops, who had become an insufferable ass, and still have a version of the character appearing in several books in the Marvel Universe. And it was one who just happened to be a teenager, and therefore had not yet made all the horrible life choices that made fandom turn on Scott Summers. Most importantly, it allowed Jean Grey to return to the pages of the comics, without undoing her previous death back in 2004. Again, Marvel was having its cake and eating it too. Similarly, Marvel could also “kill” Wolverine in a big event comic, and still have Old Man Logan from an alternate timeline as a member of the team. It basically meant none of those deaths really mattered, not even in the short term.

But now, the adult Jean Grey is back. The older Iceman has also come out as gay (his younger counterpart did it first). Sure, the elder Cyclops is currently still dead, but that can be undone in the snap of a finger. Having two sets of the same characters around was fun for awhile, but it’s ultimately confusing to those ever elusive new fans which comics are always going for. It’s in Marvel’s best interest to remove multiple versions of the same characters from its pages. What should have been a year-long story arc just went on for way, way too long. It’s maybe time to end X-Men: Blue (which features the O5 X-Men) and X-Men: Gold (which features an updated version of the 1980s line-up) and just bring back the book that started it all – The Uncanny X-Men.

Marvel’s flagship X-book ended about two years ago, ultimately giving way to X-Men:Blue and X-Men: Gold. But with Marvel going back to basics with their upcoming “Fresh Start” initiative — which they seem to do on a yearly basis — it is definitely time to bring back Uncanny X-Men as the flagship X-book. Professor X has recently come back from the dead in the pages of Astonishing X-Men (another X-title that is maybe one too many), so how about having old Chuck re-assemble a version of the team that everyone loves, with NO doppelgangers? Let’s have a team consisting of Cyclops, Jean Grey, Beast, Iceman, Archangel, Wolverine, Colossus, Storm, Nightcrawler, Rogue, Kitty Pryde, Psylocke, Jubilee, and Gambit. Other members can come and go, but for people who either grew up with the ’80s comics, or the ’90s animated series, those characters will always be the foundation of the team, and a hard line-up to resist.

Of course, Marvel shouldn’t throw out the baby with the bathwater and go completely retro. The X-Mansion in Central Park? Leave it. It doesn’t make sense to go back to Westchester anymore, beyond nostalgic reasons. The world at large knows who the X-Men are now and rely on them, and having them near the Avengers and other big time Marvel heroes makes sense. Having an adult Kitty Pryde as a team leader, as she has been in the pages of X-Men:Gold, also makes a ton of sense. But let’s end this era of multiple versions of the original members and Wolverine. X-Men continuity has been confusing enough without having this one aspect adding an extra layer of headache to the proceedings.

What do you think of a more streamlined, less duplicate heavy X-Men universe? Let us know your thoughts down below in the comments.

Images: Marvel Comics / Saban Entertainment

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