"X-Termination" #1 from David Lapham and David Lopez is the Alpha issue to a mini crossover event between "Astonishing X-Men," "X-Treme X-Men" and "Age of Apocalypse." It's all set up, in case there are new readers, but it's also a case for why new readers seem to shy away from delving into many X-books. The convolution at play in this book rivals a box of wire hangers to the point that it almost feels like a punch line. Three books, and so three teams, some villains drawn from other books, two realities, an old crossover event and a To Be Continued directing the reader to a different title. This might work for the current fans but it's a continuity joke to any outsiders looking in.
The main thrust of this issue is the hunt for the "Age of Apocalypse" version of Nightcrawler. He recently betrayed Wolverine and his "Uncanny X-Force" crew and so Wolverine now leads his "Astonishing X-Men" on the trail of this turncoat. Along the way, Dark Beast becomes embroiled in the shenanigans and a Dreaming Celestial is used. It's this moment when everything amps up another level. The narrative becomes a melting pot of 'and then they turn up' moments which ends with everyone poised to fight. It's the lowest common denominator of superhero comics where people cross paths for barely necessary reasons and then the mayhem and hilarity ensues.
Though the plot may be formulaic, David Lapham's scripting is sharp in moments. Gambit rattles Wolverine's cage in regards to running with external teams, which is pretty funny, and a moment with the floating head of Xavier later on is more powerful than any scene involving the floating head of anyone deserves to be. Lapham uses these characters as well as he can in the space permitted but once the steamroller of the plot machinations start turning much of the impact drops from the page as I was just trying to keep up.
The art from David Lopez delivers the story in a workmanlike manner but it rarely seems to go above any base level expectations. He works with some empty black space well in moments to deliver emotion, which is a nice thing to see. The character designs all felt a touch simple in regards to emotive faces with Wolverine feeling the most off character of the bunch. Most page layouts are simple and yet effective. Lopez is definitely a greater strength in moments of action than he is with all the talking heads.
"X-Termination" #1 is exactly what is to be expected of the introductory issue of an event, and that's not the largest compliment I can bestow. A lot of characters need to jump in for panel time and so plot progression zooms along with not a lot happening but a lot of people around for it to happen. Lapham sneaks in a few moments of worth but the rest is a spandex cameo fest that builds but doesn't necessarily intrigue. If you have been following the three titles weaving through this story you might be interested but any outsiders will most likely be best to avoid.