Today marks the beginning of the end for time-displaced original X-Men. Marvel Comics has launched Extermination by Ed Brisson, Pepe Larraz, and Marte Gracia, its newest X-Men event series and what is expected to be the closing chapter on the original five X-Men’s time in the present day.
“This series is about the Original Five—Jean, Bobby, Warren, Hank and Scott,” Brisson said when the series was announced. “Years ago, they were brought from the past to our present so that they could see how badly things went wrong with their older selves and, theoretically, fix it. They were only meant to be here briefly, but have stuck around for far, far too long and their presence is finally going to have some very serious consequences—not just for themselves and the X-Men, but for all of
“Our mandate going into this was, ‘Your back issues matter,’” Brisson continued. “Every single Uncanny X-Men story involving the Original Five X-Men matters. If the X-Men are here, then they’re not where they’re supposed to be, fighting those they’re supposed to fight. What happens when that past starts to unravel? What’s the butterfly effect on our present?
“In a lot of ways, they’re still the wide-eyed kids they’ve always been, but having spent several years in our present, they’ve changed their perspective on a lot of things. Jean and Scotty aren’t the classic
As you may have surmised, this is an event where it helps to have some knowledge of continuity going in, and even if you do know what’s been going on with the X-Men’s time-travel shenanigans over the past several years, a refresher wouldn't hurt. That’s why we’re here to help. Here’s everything you need to know about the X-Men going into Extermination.
Using the Past to Change the Future
The original five X-Men - Cyclops, Marvel Girl, Iceman, Beast, and Angel - began their saga in the present day in the pages of All-New X-Men by Brian Michael Bendis and, primarily, Stuart Immonen. The series launched in 2012 in the wake of the Avengers vs. X-Men event, which is way too big of an event for us to summarize here. What you need to know is that Cyclops became possessed by the Phoenix Force, went Dark Phoenix, and killed Professor X.
Beast - the adult Beast who belongs in the present day - had a falling out with Cyclops well before this and fought alongside the Avengers during the Avengers vs. X-Men battle. Cyclops re-emerged after the events of AvX as a mutant revolutionary leader encouraging a more proactive, hardline stance against human superiority. At the same time, Beast decided to take drastic measures.
Beast used a time platform to go backward in time to his own past (specifically into the events of X-Men #8 from 1964). Beast hoped that by bringing the X-Men forward in time he could shock Cyclops’ system enough that he would regret everything he’d done and come to his senses. Beast told the young original X-Men that Cyclops was on the verge of mutant genocide, which was enough to convince them to come to their future.prevnext
Once there, the original five were confronted with their sordid dark futures. This immediately began to change them. Jean Grey, who wouldn’t discover her telepathic powers for another year in her own timeline, immediately began manifesting telepathic abilities she couldn’t control. Learning of their wedding and Jean's eventual death actually drove a wedge between young Cyclops and Jean.
But it wasn’t too late. The X-Men could return to their own time the way they came and let Professor X mindwipe them of everything they saw, setting the timeline straight. The five X-Men took a vote. Angel voted to return home, but the others voted against him. Kitty Pryde also vouched for them, agreeing to be their new “Professor K” and oversee them in the present
Being in the present day immediately began to put stress on the original X-Men. After one meeting with his future self, Angel tried to send himself back home without the others and Jean mind-controlled him to stop him from going. She also discovered that Beast had been hiding feeling for her their entire lives and confronted him about this. Kitty eventually had to give Jean a stern talking to about invading others’ minds without permission.
The X-Men also noticed that the supposed “mutant genocide” that Beast had used to convince them to come to the future never materialized. Fed up, Angel defected to Cyclops’ secret mutant school. Kitty continued training the others. And then they got a visit from the future.prevnext
Battle of the Atom
The first major event to involve these time-displaced X-Men was Battle of the Atom. As tensions between the two X-Men factions began to dissipate, Cyclops’ team and Kitty’s “All-New” group were working together on a mission when young Cyclops nearly died, causing adult Cyclops to disappear and nearly destroying the timeline.
Luckily the mutant healer Triage brought young Cyclops back, but
That’s when the X-Men from the future arrived and insisted that the originals go back to prevent a disastrous future. Jean sensed something about these X-Men was amiss and she and Cyclops ran for it.
It would turn out that these are not the future X-Men, but the future Brotherhood of Mutants led by Charles Xavier II (Professor X and Mystique’s child) and Raze (Wolverine and Mystique’s child). They also had with them Xorn, who was the time-displaced Jean Grey all grown up and corrupted by her telepathic abilities because she didn’t have Professor X to teach and guide her. This Brotherhood would become the All-New X-Men’s arch-nemesis group.
Battle of the Atom ends up being a big fight between X-Men from across generations, but ultimately it was all made moot. The Brotherhood at one point has the opportunity to send the original X-Men back in time, but something prevents them from leaving. Something about the X-Men leaving their own timeline apparently broke time travel.prevnext
Too Far Gone
With no clear way to return home, the X-Men make the most of their time in the present day. Kitty, feeling betrayed by Wolverine and the teachers at his school, takes the All-New team to Cyclops’ school instead. X-23 joins the group, Cyclops spends some time in space with his father, Angel is transformed by a cosmic artifact so that he has wings of fire, and Jean Grey confronts Iceman with the knowledge that he’s been hiding that he’s gay, prompting him to come out even when his older self still hasn't.
The original X-Men have changed significantly since arriving in this new era and Jean Grey realizes that with her telepathic abilities having grown so much she’s not sure if even Professor X would be able to mindwipe them. They may be trapped in this time period for good.prevnext
Here to Stay
In 2015, Marvel Comics canceled all of its series for several months for the Secret Wars events. When they returned, eight months had passed. The original X-Men were still in the present day, but - as Beast put it - they had stopped trying to change the future and let the future change them
This volume of All-New X-Men was written by Dennis Hopeless and drawn by Mark Bagley. With the originals no longer at a school and convinced that they may be stuck in this time permanently, this volume dealt much more with each character's personal growth and felt very detached from the overarching X-Men narrative.
However, young Beast was still trying to figure out a way to get him and his teammates home. Having given up on science, Beast turned to magic and contacted Doctor Strange for help. Using an artifact that Doctor Strange gave him, Beast was able to return to when the originals had left.
In the final issue of the series, Beast take all five original X-Men back to their own time only to find that they have apparently never left. They actually watch themselves fight battles that they have no memory of fighting, leading them to believe that perhaps they aren’t the X-Men from this timeline after all.prevnext
The original X-Men’s story continues in X-Men Blue by Cullen Bunn and a rotating group of artists including Jorge Molina, RB Silva, and others. This volume finds the original X-Men in Madripoor being overseen by Magneto, though in truth Jean brought the team there to make sure Magneto revert to being a villain.
But Magneto had a secret of his own. He had been receiving messages from Professor X in the past that something was wrong with the timeline, something involving the original X-Men. This becomes apparent as history begins to change around the original X-Men, and people - including Magneto - begin to disappear. The original X-Men have no choice but to use Magneto’s time platform to try to figure out what’s gone wrong.
The X-Men are transported first to the year 2099 and then the era of Generation X. In each time period, they meet a group of mutants who tell them that the original five X-Men turned evil and conquered and corrupted the planet, all after murdering Magneto and the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. Finally, they return to the moment of that massacre and rescue Magneto.
With help from Magneto, Generation X, and the X-Men 2099 team, the originals confront their doppelgangers and learn that they are actually the Brotherhood from the future - Xavier, Raze, and crew. Using Xavier's telepathic illusions, the Brotherhood
In the end, the original X-Men are able to defeat the Brotherhood. Before they leave, Professor X confirms what they feared: they HAVE to go back. Not only that, but they have to go back and they have to forget everything they learned. Otherwise, the timeline will fall apart around them.prevnext
Countdown to Extermination.
In the lead up to the release of Extermination #1, Marvel released five “post-credits scenes” in the pages of ongoing X-Men series: X-Men Gold #27, X-Men Blue #27, X-Men Red #5, Astonishing X-Men #13, and Cable #159.
These scenes take place 20 years into the future, and the original X-Men still haven’t returned home. Kitty Pryde is still leading the X-Men, but they are under siege by a massive army of Sentinels. The Sentinels are attacking the school and they are attacking the Red Team's undersea base. Jean Grey, the adult version, feels it with her powers and realizes it is a global attack and that all of the X-Men are dead.
In the present day, Cable receives an alert about a disruption to the timeline and realizes that something has gone all wrong.2comments
Are you ready for Extermination? How do you think the saga of the All-New X-Men will end? Let us know in the comments!
Extermination #1 is on sale now.prev