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Decimation: X-Men - The Day After (House of M) Paperback – May 10, 2006
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Decimation: X-Men - The Day After written by Chris Claremont is the follow up story to Brian Michael Bendis' House of M. The aforementioned story saw the Scarlet Witch completely alter reality, thus making mutant kind the majority on Earth with her father, Magneto, as the supreme ruler. Together with Magneto and her siblings, Quicksilver and Polaris, they were the House of M. Wolverine being the only one realizing that the world had been an illusion was able to form a resistance to take down the House of M. The ending saw the Scarlet Witch consumed by depression and anger; this led to taking her frustration out on mutant kind. This story takes place immediately after the events, and now the X-Men, mutant kind, are in the midst of facing their darkest hour. This TPB collects Decimation: House of M - The Day After, and X-Men # 177 - 181.
House of M was indeed a big deal and the effects hit the mutant community very hard. It was revealed that the Scarlet Witch erased various mutants powers when she said the words, " No More Mutants". Emma Frost along with others researching the matter learn that the students of Xavier's school weren't the only victims. In fact, the Scarlet Witch's effect on her own people had went global. Frost learns that there are now only hundreds of mutants left when there were once millions. Cyclops then states that the mansion will now be a haven to all mutants.
Leading to this event, I was probably Chris Claremont's harshest critic because it was obvious he had lost some of his storytelling mojo. His work on Excalibur prior to this event and even afterwards was terrible. It felt as if he was still stuck in the 80's, and at times even this story kind of feels that way. However, the good outweighs the bad and the story does its job capitalizing off of House of M's aftermath.
Claremont works the drama well enough; Emma Frost's reactions to the situation feel genuine, and you can sense her grief as she learns that her race is hovering over extinction. Many of the key character interactions, although very short, are strong enough to carry the narrative at times. As a long time X-Men reader, I enjoyed the short discussion between the X-Men co-leaders Cyclops and Storm. They realize the situation is horrible, yet they keep their worries amongst themselves in private discussion, because they know that the others need strong leaders in this time of crisis. This is the Claremont I use to enjoy reading, when he treats his characters like real people it's rare he would miss. There are also other subplots being developed involving the Sentinels and a mutant hating group called the Sapien League. These are expanded upon and cleared up later in the X-Men titles.
The stories that take place in the X-Men title are written by Peter Milligan, and they consist of the two story arcs House Arrest (1 - 3) and What Lorna Saw (1 -2). The first story sees an old ally by the name of Valerie Cooper offering her help to the X-Men, but the catch is that they have to work with the Sentinels. Milligan's writing has been known to be weird to many with me being among them, but I thought he worked this part out well, with the X-Men rejecting their help and moving in for the kill on first sight. It's easy to buy into them thinking this way, since not only are they now an endangered species, but the Sentinels had been trying to eradicate mutants for years with some success. The characterization is what makes this story readable, because there are certain elements that weren't too interesting. The second story follows both Havok and Polaris as they leave the X-Men. This is a very boring story that finds Polaris coping with being de-powered as well. Outside of this tale setting the stage for the six part story arc Blood of Apocalypse, it really doesn't have much value.
The only gripes with this TPB is that I believe Milligan's story has moments of feeling very dry, and Roger Cruz's artwork in What Lorna Saw really isn't great. To be honest, there are moments were it's straight ugly. Randy Green and Aaron Lopresti turn in some solid work in The Day After. I will always remember the disturbed feeling when I saw the Blob de-powered for the first time. I can imagine what the sadness in his voice would have sounded like when he begged, " Please. Shoot me!" Salvador Larroca uses an almost water-splash like art style in House Arrest. At times the artwork feels a little strange, because the characters almost look see-through. On the other hand though, the Sentinels are drawn pretty nice. Overall, I think the coloring is kind of inconsistent but I really can't complain since it's nothing too out of order.
Decimation: X-Men - The Day After is only one of I believe 5 books in the Decimation crossover. From what I remember only one can be said to be essential, and that is Son of M, but the effects of that story won't be felt until much later on and not in the X-Men books either. This book may only prove valuable to those who read House of M and are planning to follow the X-Men books. I do not recommend this book to casual fans or as a place to start, you need to read House of M first.
Pros: Good follow up to House of M, some good characterization at times
Cons: Has several stale moments, not exactly groundbreaking