Humberto Ramos (1970- ) is a Mexican comic-book artist well-known for his manga style which drawn opposite reactions. He has worked for many comic-book editors, from Dark Horse to DC and Marvel, for both the covers and the interiors – for example he designed both for the first issue of Extraordinary X-Men. He became a regular artist for the Amazing Spider-Man series in 2010, series for which he drew the 700th issue where Peter Parker and Dr. Octopus switch their minds. Thus began the Superior Spider-Man series, for which Humberto Ramos drew a dozen of issues. Before becoming the regular artist of the Spider-Man series, Humberto Ramos worked for some X-Men titles such as New X-Men (2007-2008), Wolverine (2006) and X-Nation 2099 (1996). Therefore he’s no novice in the X-Men world.
Storm has closed the Jean Grey School and transported, thanks to Magik, every student and mutant refugees into X-Heaven, a secret place – which turned out to be Limbo. How ironic to name this place X-Heaven when it’s located into Limbo, a place closer to Hell than Heaven. The choice to this place might be due only to its location, on another plan, therefore not touched by the M-Pox. This double-page spread allows us to see that the buildings of the Jean Grey School are still here, but the landscape all around is very different than from New-York. In addition to the mountains of the background, there are tents in the foreground. These tents are for the refugees Magik brings every day. Speaking of Magik, she looks more appeased and calm than a few years ago – she looks like the young girl Kris Anka drew for his part on Uncanny X-Men #600. Storm and Iceman have new costumes, which strengthens their new role. Storm, as the leader of the mutants – after the death of Wolverine in October 2014 and the death of Cyclops (which is not an absolute fact) – appears more like a fighter than a goddess or a queen. But just as Magik she is oversexualized with her impressive breast, her bare stomach and the way-to-low belts. As for Iceman, it’s nice to see him with something other than a brief or shorts. His new costume maybe proves that he has accepted his role as Storm’ first mate. The middle ground and the background show some former students, such as Anole and Blindfold – who looks like young boy and girl instead of teenagers – Rockslide and Glob Herman.
Magik as left X-Heaven to recruit her brother, Colossus. He has retired from the world and is working as a farmer in Siberia until his sister shows up. She reminds him of their family and how badly their father treated him the day he discovered Piotr was a mutant. Piotr looks like a stylish young man, with his undercut, his beard and his overalls showing his incredibly muscular body. I’m fond of Piotr’s faces, dive into his thoughts and memories. The contrast between his younger self under his armor and his actual self, without his armor but protected behind the argument of his new life, is moving. Even after all these years, Colossus is still hurt by what happened with his father. It’s been a long time since we’ve seen a moment like this one involving Colossus – his reconciliation with his sister was touching, but not as intense as this scene.
Thanks to Jean Grey, who refused to join Storm’s team, Storm and Iceman have found Logan, or at least a version of Logan, known by the readers as Old Man Logan who joined the mainstream Marvel universe at the end of his Secret Wars tie-in (see Andrea Sorrentino – Old Man Logan #5). Despite all Storm and Iceman’s arguments, he refuses to join the team too, afraid of the possible consequences. He still thinks about what happened on his world, when manipulated by the villains he killed all of the heroes. He still feels guilty for that and is afraid that there is even the slightest chance for that to happen again. When he sees Iceman, he sees his bloody corpse on the ground. Maybe Storm is so desperate to recruit him because she is afraid she’ll fail to achieve Xavier’s dream, just like Logan himself and Scott did. She is the only one in charge now that they are both dead, and it must scare her to death, just as her deformed face on the fifth panel testifies it.
On her own in college, Jean Grey is trying to live a normal life, away from the mutant problems. She’s dating Chris, a human who turned out to be afraid of mutants. Fortunately for us, her thing with Hank – for which I was upset on Uncanny X-Men #600 by Stuart Immonen – as ended because of their closeness, and she doesn’t even consider dating Scott because of their history together. Trying to protect a beaten mutant – who’s actually an Inhuman afraid of the mutants because of the M-Pox – she reveals her powers and scares Chris and the assailants away. The demonstration of her powers is stunning: floating above the ground, Jean sent the three attackers flying. I knew the young Jean Grey was powerful, but not this powerful.
The first villain against whom the Extraordinary X-Men will have to fight finally appears, and it’s Mr. Sinister himself. And what best for such an amazing villain than a full-page. Humberto Ramos‘ depiction of Mr Sinister is fantastic. His cape looks like wings, and he has the perfect wicked-smile all villain should have. As a male he’s not oversexualized – unlike Storm and Magik as we’ve seen earlier – but he doesn’t look like ordinary Joe. He’s tall and muscular, and his costume is pretty revealing, even despite the fact that his body is covered by an armor, like Colossus. As a master of genetics, this time he wants to play with the Rasputin’s genes.
These two first issues of Extraordinary X-Men are very promising. The drawings are fantastic – Humberto Ramos really did a great job – the scenes both moving and exciting. Even if X-Heaven is located in Limbo, it still reminds me of Utopia, and the fact the mutants are killed by a mysterious disease is just an other trick to reduce the mutant population, just like the “No more mutants” at the end of House of M. I’m fond of Iceman’s new role as Storm’s first mate – he is after all the only remaining of the original five in X-Heaven – and maybe the recent revelation in Uncanny X-Men #600 by Mahmud Asrar will make him a more proeminent and interesting character. I‘m eager to read Logan and Jean’s metting in the next volume, just as to find out what happened to Nightcrawler (he lost his tail in the #2nd issue) !