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Uncanny X-Men #487 July 9, 2007

Posted by psimitar in comics.
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The Extremists p.1 of 5 / Ed Brubaker, writer / Salvador Larroca, pencils

Synopsis

The Morlocks, a group of disfigured mutants that make their home in the sewers of New York, are apparently still alive even after the devastating effects of 2006’s M-Day, when 90% of Earth’s mutants were stripped of their X-gene, the genetic component that triggers superpower mutations in humans. Now led by the shapeshifting mutant, Masque, the Morlocks are apparently attemtping to bring a recently discovered prophecy to fruition first by ambushing two of their former members, Leech and Caliban who have come down into the tunnels to offer the Morlocks sanctuary above ground in the sunlight.

After incapacitating Caliban, Masque, Bliss and Erg abduct Leech and carry him deeper into the catacombs beneath NYC but not before Masque uses his powers to permanently disfigure and weaken Caliban and leave him to scurry to the aid of the X-Men; all apparently a part of the Morlock prophecy. [Small fact: the last time I read a story with Masque in it, he was an effeminate ring-leader of an elite underground gladiator club in Tokyo…no joking.]

Meanwhile at the X-Mansion in Westchester, New York…

Charles Xavier, one-time leader of the X-Men, is back from a mission in space in which he regained his amazing psychic abilities from contact with the reality-bending M’kran crystal. Intent on correcting some of his “past mistakes,” he uses the mutant-tracking machine Cerebra for the first time in months to attempt contact with a splinter team of X-Men still waging war in Shi’Ar space hundreds of light years away. Instead he learns of Caliban’s rapid approach toward the mansion and reads some of what transpired in the Morlock tunnels. He dispatches Nightcrawler to intercept Caliban before the O*N*E Sentinel guarding the mansion can interfere.

Out on the mansion grounds, X-Man Warpath and ex-Starjammer Hepzibah, an anthropomorphic cat…woman are interrupted in the middle of training by the tripping of the Sentinel’s perimeter alarms. They both reach Caliban before the Sentinel along with Kurt (Nightcrawler) who teleports Caliban to relative safety in the mansion’s sickbay. The Sentinel is about to retaliate when veteran X-Man Storm arrives after a long hiatus from the X-Books and intimidates the giant mechanised form with a flashy display of elemental power. She’s been summoned by Xavier to lead a small team (Warpath, Hepzibah and herself) into the NYC sewers to investigate what happened to Leech. Makes sense since over a decade before, Storm was the de facto leader of the Morlocks after defeating their previous leader Callisto.

Tensions rise between Charles and Valerie Cooper, director of the nation’s Office of National Emergency (think Homeland Security for mutant terrorists), when she questions the actions of his X-Men in harboring Caliban, a subject of interest to O*N*E due to suspicious mutant energy signatures emanating from the weakened mutant, Charles reacts diplomatically and wins the right to handle the problem himself. Hopefully this will be the beginning of the end for O*N*E’s involvement with the goings and comings of the X-Men.

Later in the Morlock Tunnels…

Masque, Bliss and Erg are joined by Skids (?!) and begin to argue over Masque’s directing of the Morlocks, claiming he’s being too harsh with Leech and that he harmed Caliban unnecessarily. Masque shrugs off the complaints, claiming everything he’s done was necessary for bringing about the Morlock prophecy. He then uses his powers to change Leech into something mysterious and new, also a part of this prophecy of theirs.

Commentary –

Brubaker’s previous storyline had the X-Men fighting up in space in an epic storyline that was supposed to change the status quo of the X-books…well, at least that was the goal. I don’t believe Brubaker’s strengths really lie in such a grand storyline because I found much of it drawn out and boring, but now that he’s back on planet earth (literally and figuratively) and dealing with more mundane things like Morlocks and sentinels I’m a lot more intrigued. Also, he writes a much stronger Xavier these days with clearer objectives in mind. He’s no longer so racked with guilt over the past that he can’t act. He may become a central character in the X-stories if he doesn’t get himself killed in the meantime!

Overall I enjoyed this issue and look forward to seeing the storyline through to the end.

Also, I’ve been in love with Larroca’s art since the days of X-Treme X-Men back in 2001-2003 and have really missed his work in these pages. His Storm and Rogue work have been some of the strongest for the characters in the last ten years and I look forward to seeing more of his stylized character designs in future issues. Plus, his colorist is amazing. I’ve never been unimpressed by anything in Larroca’s work!

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