Hardcover, 2011. Collects 1988's UNCANNY X-MEN #235 - 238 and 1990's UNCANNY X-MEN #270 - 272, NEW MUTANTS #95 - 97, & X-FACTOR #60 - 62.
"Mutant Massacre", "Fall of the Mutants", and "Inferno", "X-Tinction Agenda" marks the fourth X-universe crossover, and has the notoriety of being the first such event of the nineties. But unlike the majority of those nineties events, this one comes from the pens of Chris Claremont and Louise Simonson -- both with one foot out the door of the X-franchise at this point, whether they realize it or not.
But before the crossover proper, the X-TINCTION AGENDA hardcover begins with UNCANNY X-MEN issues 235 - 238. Written by Claremont and illustrated by Marc Silvestri and Rick Leonardi, this storyline introduces the X-Men to the small island nation of Genosha, a technologically advanced paradise built on the backs of enslaved mutates. Claremont uses this 1988 tale as a metaphor for Apartheid, hitting on some heavy themes while never forgetting that X-MEN is, first and foremost, an action-adventure serial. It's generally regarded as one of the high points of his long run on the series, and its presence here, as a thematic companion to the main crossover, is appreciated -- though for the completionists out there, its inclusion was rendered moot in late 2014 with the publication of the X-MEN: INFERNO PROLOGUE collection.
Following this prologue arc comes the book's main content: the eponymous nine-part crossover which brings every X-team to Genosha at once, uniting them all in one story for, really, the first time ever. "Mutant Massacre" had featured the X-Men, X-Factor, and New Mutants all engaged in their own corners of the Marauders' assault on the Morlocks. "Fall of the Mutants" told three separate stories in three separate series, united under a common banner title. "Inferno" finally united X-MEN and X-FACTOR into a bi-weekly crossover, but NEW MUTANTS remained separate from the action. Here, at last, all three titles join together in one clearly defined story labeled "Part 1", "Part 2", etc., and by the closing chapters, the three X-teams join forces on-page for the first time since Marvel began publication of X-FACTOR in 1986, against a common foe -- Commander Cameron Hodge, previously the villain of X-FACTOR's portion of "Fall of the Mutants" (and a force in the NEW MUTANTS section of that crossover as well).
It's a momentous occasion, though the story doesn't always do a great job of representing that. Certainly, were it left to Claremont and Simonson, I'm sure the gravity of the unification would have come across. But unfortunately, the artwork in this crossover is uneven (to say the least) and the entire product suffers for it. The X-MEN chapters, drawn by regular series artist Jim Lee, are gorgeous as usual, and between Lee's art and Claremont's prose, these are easily the strongest installments of the story. But regular NEW MUTANTS penciler Rob Liefeld (love him or hate him, he was a draw at the time) drops out after two of his series' three chapters, leaving the final NM installment to Guang Yap. X-FACTOR is drawn all the way through by Jon Bogdanove, whose steroid-enhanced characters and bizarre design choices (see the Genoshan president) are a horrible fit with the rest of the story. To say the artwork lets this event down would be an understatement. Two thirds of the story are just plain ugly.
Following the nine chapters of "X-Tinction", the book features a brief selection of bonus features, including house ads, covers of prior editions, and the like. It's really bare bones as far as these things go, especially when you consider that Marvel usually really hyped these X-events and there were almost certainly some MARVEL AGE articles or something which could've been included too.
"X-Tinction Agenda" is easily my least favorite of all the X-crossovers from the eighties and nineties. I know things like "Zero Tolerance" and "Onslaught" get a lot of hate, but I can't rag on them much since they were a part of my X-Men experience as they happened. "X-Tinction", on the other hand, I came to years later, with no real sentimental attachment, knowing in advance how the thing would end, and found the only thing I genuinely liked about it was the Jim Lee art.
Still, this book fills a hole between the two X-MEN BY CHRIS CLAREMONT AND JIM LEE OMNIBUS collections. In a move somehow equally logical and bizarre, Marvel chose to omit Lee's three "X-Tinction" issues from either of the books with his name on them in favor of placing them in this slim volume with the rest of the crossover. I find it odd that the supposedly comprehensive Jim Lee collections are missing three of his issues, but at the same time, printing only one third of a crossover in either of those books would've been an odd choice, while including all nine chapters might have been overkill.
So we have a short hardcover designed to sit between the two Lee Omnibuses on the shelf. It's a lovely book, with really nice graphic design. At the time, the majority of Marvel's classic hardcovers had plain black spines, sometimes with a fancy logo on the side, other times with simple serif text. X-TINCTION AGENDA was the first one I recall picking up with a colored spine (red in this case) and a really fancy logo -- though for some reason Marvel went with the then-modern X-MEN logo rather than the more common Jim Steranko-designed logo which was the standard at the time these stories were originally published. A couple months later, they would publish an X-CUTIONER'S SONG collection using the exact same format and graphic design, but in blue rather than red. I'll cover that one here in a few months' time.
Storywise, X-TINCTION AGENDA is fine. Artistically, 66.6% of it is a pretty big letdown. Still, it's a nice bridge to place between the two Claremont/Lee collections, featuring those three issues by the creative duo missing from the other books. I don't go back to this crossover often, but nonetheless, it feels nice to have a definitive hardcover collection for the occasions when I might like to do so.
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