"Extraordinary X-Men" #6 kicks off the title's second storyline, as Jeff Lemire and guest artist Victor Ibanez send the bulk of the team into Weirdworld to rescue a group of lost mutants. After a rather ordinary opening storyline, this latest issue gives readers a much stronger sense of purpose and direction for the title.
Lemire has taken the events of the previous issue -- with Storm no longer content to hide with the rest of mutantdom in X-Haven -- and applied it across the board for the cast of "Extraordinary X-Men." This is a great thing, because now we're getting engaging motivations for our protagonists; that is, we're getting a good mixture of what's driving this team. Colossus is starting to shift into the role of teacher, even as Iceman looks for some knowledge of his own. Storm is the most changed here, and for the better. She steps into the center spotlight as leader and makes important decisions, from making the various X-Men feel more useful to deciding who should go on a rescue mission or stay behind to help Nightcrawler recover from his traumatic experience. When it debuted, the book felt a little aimless, but Lemire uses that as a launching point to show the transformation of the team from victims to heroes.
Lemire s also isn't afraid to build on what we've seen up until now. We still get more hints about what happened with Cyclops to make him deceased-persona-non-grata, with information on at least one person who collaborated on Cyclops' ill-borne plan. Additionally, Lemire takes character developments for characters like Magik and Iceman from Brian Michael Bendis' run and expands on them; the characters are progressing, but in a way that builds on what we've seen rather than simply wiping the slate clean and starting over. New readers get characters that are inviting, while older readers find a familiar cast.
Ibanez steps into "Extraordinary X-Men" #6 with a clean line and a less cartoonish style than Humberto Ramos used for the first five issues. Character redesigns like Colossus' look good with Ibanez, and it's interesting to see Ibanez's take on the new character Sapna, who is still recognizable but a little more grounded in reality than what we'd seen in previous issues. I do wish Ibanez drew the rhinosaurs from a distance a little more often here, though; they're the one visual that had the potential to stand out, but we see them far more often up close (with most of their features off-panel) to ever really achieve that effect.
"Extraordinary X-Men" #6 feels like a big step forward for the series; there's now a hook to make readers want to read more, with characters and plotlines having shifted to a more proactive stance. If you'd been a little underwhelmed with the series debut, give "Extraordinary X-Men" #6 a shot. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised now that the series' direction has been firmly established. All in all, a nice job from Lemire and Ibanez.