Between this “Extraordinary X-Men,” and “All-New Wolverine,” it seems that the direction for the franchise in the wake of Bendis’ run has been to embrace the familiar and return to what has worked before. That means lots of character-driven drama between teams with defined members and actual fights against established members of their rogues’ gallery. While the previous two titles were good examples of this trend, I wasn’t expecting as much from this title given that its writer, Dennis Hopeless, has yet to have a truly breakout superhero or creator-owned title to his credit. I’m happy to report that this title may be it.
You could split this volume into two arcs as the team -- made up of the still time-displaced Cyclops, Beast, Iceman, and Angel, along with Wolverine, Kid Apocalypse, and Oya -- faces off against a group of wannabe mutant revolutionaries who have taken after Cyclops the Older, and a more refined version of the Blob as he terrorizes Parisian restauranteurs. Standard issue stuff, to be sure, but it’s fun seeing the kids out to fight the good fight. Particularly when you’ve got someone like Mark Bagley illustrating these issues as he excels at drawing superhero action and young characters.
What impressed me the most about this volume, however, was Hopeless’ grasp of his cast and how he manages things so that (almost) everyone gets some time to establish themselves here. Cyclops has his issues with how he turns out in the future, Bobby has difficulty learning how to successfully flirt with guys, Hank is worried that he’s behind the curve in the future, Idie still has her issues with Christianity, and Warren and Laura have their unique relationship issues to work out. Some of this stuff can be on the nose and more than a little melodramatic. It still manages to come from a place of honesty regarding the characters, and I have to admit that Wolverine and Angel as a couple makes more sense after seeing how they act together here. Evan “Kid Apocalypse” is the only one who gets the short end of the stick here as he’s mainly defined by how he responds to the actions of the rest of the cast. Given that the next volume collects the “Apocalypse Wars” tie-in issues, that’s likely to be remedied. Though there doesn’t seem to be a long-term plan here and the idea of the time-displaced X-Men ever going back to the past isn’t even addressed here, I still got plenty of enjoyment out of this volume just from seeing them hang out and then go fight the bad guys.