Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Grant Morrison’s New X-Men 114 (Part One of Two)

After Monday’s post some folks suggested I look closely at Grant Morrison’s whole New X-Men run. It seems like a good idea since it is such a mixed bag, the best and the worst art I have seen, an ambitious failure by a writer I am completely familiar with. I don’t know how well this will go or how long it will go on for before it busts or gets boring, but I am going to try, as often as I can, to give each issue its due. Here is my review of issue 114, the first part of E for Extinction.

With the new title, the freshly designed reversible logo, and an eerie, badass cover including newly designed and unbelievably hip uniforms New X-Men 114 announces loudly its commitment to shaking up the status quo. Everyone is fantastically tall and lanky, like runway models (Quitely characters don’t often look this thin). Inside Xavier will say of Cassandra Nova “are these words from the future?” and Morrison’s aim is to make the whole book feel like an artifact from a future time.

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Turn the page and you get hit with a wonderful two page spread that economically introduces the whole X-Men concept to the kinds of new readers Morrison was after (see my earlier post on Morrison’s New X-Men and Cool -- just hit the New X-Men tag): Mutants will replace humans as humans replaced the Neanderthals. If you already know the concept your attention will be held by the bizarre and wonderful Cassandra Nova, a herald of a dark future who (in a design stroke of evil genius) wears a pith helmet and matching attire – she will kill mutants as the British upper class killed elephants in Africa on Safari.

Turn the page again, and you get hit with an even better two page spread. Each main character gets an extreme close up highlighting a unique detail: Cyclops’s visor, Jean’s surgically precise telekinesis, Emma Frost’s high collar, the Beast’s cat eyes and glasses, Wolverine’s claws emerging (you can see small drops of blood flying, a detail that was removed from the poster version), and Xavier’s weird eyes, gleaming with one red and one blue X-Men logo, his dream. Even the font for the title card looks good.

This is part one of two because I want to keep posts bite size. More next time. Future reviews will be one post per issue; because a discussion of the first issue has to take into account all the new designs, it is a double post.


Dan said...

Cool, Geoff. I can't tell you how much I'm looking forward to reading your thoughts on this run. I'm also in the process of working my way through Morrison's run on the X-Men, but I'm just gibbering nonsense in my usual fashion. It will be a pleasant change to get some, y'know, actual insight, rather than mindless jokes about Prof X's blowhardiness.

Marc Caputo said...

What kind of frequency are we talking about, Geoff? It's now 3 years (pretty much to the week) that I was introduced to Morrison's X-Men and it brought me back to mainstream comics and has kept me there since. I read the whole run about twice a year - I love it that much. Not blind to its faults, but nothing touches it on most counts.

Here's to the whole run!

Stephen said...

"I can't tell you how much I'm looking forward to reading your thoughts on this run."

So say we all!

Mitch said...

I can't wait.

Geoff Klock said...

Dan: Don't sell yourself short. Your site is great fun. Speaking of which on Friday remind me to add you to the links on the right.

Marc: I am going to do it, I would guess once or twice a week depending on topical things I have to say. Let me emphasize that right now I do not know how this will go. It may only last a short while; it is an experiment at this point, to use the blog format to try something bigger. Let me also warn you that while there will be a lot of gushing about issues drawn by Quitely, there will be sustained bouts of unpleasantness (which actually drew me to writing about this book because I get to praise and damn).

Thanks Stephen and Mitch

Everyone: feedback is vital for this to work; especially if it gets old, you must tell me.

Mitch said...

Reading over this again I noticed a stock Morrisonism: the line "Are these words from the future?" and particularlly your "artifact from a future time" statement, Geoff.

In at least three of Morrison's works (The Filth, later on in New X-Men, and in All-Star Superman) he makes reference to building a headquarters for the future in the present. I have nothing else to say, except that Morrison and co were already playing to his strengths, in the design and concept of the first issue.

Jason Powell said...

Hey, as I've said before, I don't even really like Morrison or Whitely, and even I'm looking forward to reading these reviews.

Maybe they'll even convince me to read the issues themselves!

Geoff Klock said...

Mitch: yeah, that seems to be Morrison's motto and it is a pretty good one. The fact that the X-Men are the next step in evolution here now should have made this his perfect book. We will study what happens next.

Jason: if only to follow the controversy! I have a hunch I am going to loose half my myspace friends after I get to issues four and five.

Roger Whitson said...

I remember being totally blown away by this issue. X-men had been totally stagnant--I believe--for over ten years prior to Morrison's stuff. The island with all those insect Sentinals (was that in the first or second issue?) made everything new again. I remember thinking how fresh the series was--suddenly--that nothing this new had been done on the series since the Claremont/Byrne that was republished in the Classic X-Men series I read as a child.