The original “X-Tinction Agenda” event ended nearly a quarter century ago, but the cataclysmic happenings in Marvel Comics’ current “Secret Wars” series have given cause to revisit the aftermath of that storyline in Marc Guggenheim and Carmine Di Giandomenico’s “X-Tinction Agenda” #1. Initially picking up where the first story left off, Guggenheim moves forward several years with a largely linear and believable extrapolation from when the island nation of Genosha was liberated and establishes itself as a viable continuity unto itself before its obligatory interaction with other parts of “Battleworld.”
Having once been shaped into a mutant paradise, Genosha has now become a nation on the brink of collapse as its starving mutant population takes to the streets amidst a mutant epidemic, while Havok, Wolfsbane and other X-types try to keep the peace and find themselves resorting to force and deception to preserve it. Guggenheim’s characterization of the two main characters is excellent; Alex Summers is a driven but self-doubting leader still feeling like he lives in the shadow of his older brother, while Rahne Sinclair is a mature and battle-hardened fighter who is also driven to save the lives of her people.
This character-driven story is strong enough to work outside the confines of “Secret Wars” and, in fact, the issue’s eventual tie-in halfway through reminds readers that it’s merely part of a bigger tapestry. The reminder is almost disappointing; Guggenheim succeeds in making readers forget all about “Secret Wars” for several pages before moving the story outside of Genosha’s patch of real estate. It’s a brief interlude, though, barely more than a page and — rather than coming across as a mandated mention — it is instead an integral part of the story and, in fact, serves to advance it. By this point, there’s a solid reason why Havok and company venture out to other mutant-populated areas across Battleworld, and Guggenheim makes it a genuinely exciting development that uses the backdrop provided by “Secret Wars” to its full advantage.
Di Giandomenico crafts every panel with detail that clearly defines each character, their powers in action and all of the high tech and other backdrops that surround them. The less familiar characters don’t look like mere throwaways, but instead carry a presence that justifies their inclusion in the story, and Di Giandomenico’s interpretation makes a case for hopefully larger roles in future issues. Some panels have beauty in their crisp precision, even the row of tombstones bearing several familiar and almost-familiar names, while the skyscrapers of X-Topia loom in the background.
Colorist Nolan Woodard plays nicely with Di Giandomenico’s style by using bright, crisp colors that compliment his precise linework. His prevalent use of yellow as a dominant background color within Genosha’s borders is an unusual choice, with the bright hues belying the dark and despondent state of affairs there, but it’s effective in defining a look for this landscape. Doctor Doom’s lair is appropriately dark with simple earth tones, and the magenta shading in the skies in X-Topia, like Genosha, belie the presumed mindset of the locale but are effective in establishing a striking appearance. Similarly striking is David Nakayama’s cover, a tribute to Jim Lee’s cover to “Uncanny X-Men” #270, the issue that kicked off the original twenty five years ago.
Guggenheim adds some other nice touches, such as a comic nod to the X-Men playing yet another game of pickup baseball, and Wolverine’s true feelings about it. Also, some unobtrusive labels for the main characters and their powers is a welcome addition, for those who might not recall or ever read the original “X-Tinction Agenda” story. As lettered and placed by Cory Petit, these labels have minimal impact on Di Giandomenico’s layouts but allow readers to focus on the story rather than search their memories (or Google). “X-Tinction Agenda” #1 is what such an event spinoff should be: accessible, enjoyable and able to make readers want more, which all the creators involved do here.