WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Extermination #3 by Ed Brisson, Pepe Larraz, Marte Gracia and Joe Sabino, in stores now.
In Avengers: Infinity War, Marvel translated one of the most character-defining moments in comic book history on the big screen. In 1991’s The Infinity Gauntlet, by Jim Starlin, George Pérez and Ron Lim, the Mad Titan Thanos found himself in possession of all six Infinity Gems, then snapped his fingers and made half of all life in the universe disappear. The scene instantly became iconic, a signature of sorts for the purple cosmic villain.
This scene would make the leap to the big screen in Infinity War, where Thanos assembled his mighty gauntlet’s six Infinity Stones and snapped his fingers. Fan-favorite characters died, the Avengers lost, and millions upon millions of fans left theaters shocked by the film’s ending.
The dramatic finger snap has become a part of pop culture, with homages, references and nods to it popping up across all different forms of media. Such is the case in the latest issue of the X-Men event Extermination, which sees a villain of the mutant super-team, Ahab, get his own finger snapping moment. And though may not alter the universe, it has a frightening consequence nonetheless.
Extermination #3 picks up right where issue #2 left off; Ahab and his obedient, monstrous Hounds are coming after the young time-displaced X-Men, with the villain taking the fight to the X-mansion itself. To make matters worse, the previous issue ended with Ahab somehow transforming Old Man Logan into one of his murderous, mind-controlled Hounds. But how would that be possible? Ahab’s Hounds usually take years of manipulation and torture to come to be, but Wolverine was somehow transformed instantaneously.
It turns out that Ahab now has two new mutants in his employ, a pair of young French children by the name of Maxime and Manon. One of them possesses the ability to manipulate emotions, while the other can implant psychic bombs containing fake memories of years’ worth of torture. When they work in tandem, they can create Hounds in an instant.
The two children were planted as a Trojan horse of sorts in Extermination #1 when they were rescued from an angry mob by the X-Men. Since then, Maxime and Manon have been in the company of the X-Men, inside their mansion — meaning that they had the time to turn their special abilities on many mutants without them even knowing about it. Thus, when the X-Men keep fighting Ahab, preventing him from getting to the time-displaced Beast, Cyclops and Jean Grey, he unleashes his secret weapon. “My hounds are everywhere,” he says, “and can be activated with simply… a snap of the fingers.”
Ahab snaps his fingers, and suddenly various members of the X-Men turn into Ahab’s ravenous Hounds, no matter where they are. At the bottom of the sea, inside the Searebro base, Nightcrawler is transformed, and goes berserk trying to kill the young Cyclops. In the sky, X-Force’s Shatterstar turns into a Hound and goes after the young Jean Grey inside the X-Men’s jet.
Thankfully, the other X-Men in the company of the young, time-displaced Jean and Scott are powerful and quick enough to save their lives and subdue their uncontrollable friends. But that doesn’t mean that the fight is over, or that the threat of Ahab is gone. The villain may have retreated, but there’s no telling how many X-Men his two new weapons have affected. His finger snap created two new Hounds, on top of Old Man Logan, who remains in his control. Before Extermination is over, we might see even more heroes turn into mind-controlled villains, and if there numbers are too great, they might prove impossible to stop.
Ahab may not have annihilated half of the universe, but his finger snap has proven that he is just as devious as any of the most powerful villains in the Marvel Universe.
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