[this post is part of a series of posts looking at Grant Morrison's New X-Men; to read the rest of the posts, just click the New X-Men label at the end of this post.]
This issue begins just like the last one -- the cover is a fantastic Quitely image of a sexy Jean Grey, the first page is Kordey's dumpy Wolverine, covered with Angel's strawberry milkshake. That could be funny, but I think it is disappointing. The giant title card on the next page spread is a design disaster, especially compared to Quitely's elegant and reversible New X-Men logo.
We have a scene of a U-Man who does not want to cut Cyclops's head off; seeing these guys as nervous foot soldiers brings the story down a notch, lessening the High Drama, but it is interesting to see these guys as regular people, I suppose (though very little is done with it in the end). We have some language in this scene we will see again: "Our rules are post-human rules ... a whole new humanity." These lines are much less interesting in the mouths of the bad guys, but Xavier will take them up soon.
I am confused as to how the U-Men can know about Cerebra but not anticipate how powerful Jean Grey is going to be -- they can "switch [their] minds to 'off'" (not Morrison's best line), but they seem unprepared to deal with simple telekinesis. Morrison gives the impression that these guys are just a bunch of jerks, which is less exciting than giving the X-Men threats they deserve, threats like Casandra Nova in the third issue. The U-Men even say that mutants don't feel pain, which is a crummy racist cliche, realistic and lame. I want to say that a villain such Magneto is better because his ideology is more seductive and interesting, but Morrison's Magneto (so often intelligent and subtle) will turn this around, and claim ordinary humans don't feel any pain. These guys don't have an ideology at all -- if someone can explain to me the connection between a germ free life sealed off from the fallen world, and transplanting organs from mutants they consider cattle into their own bodies, I would like to hear it. Morrison's X-Men have still not found their post-sexy ideology either -- Scott says "We're X-Men, not vigilantes," which is confusing, since they bombed that facility in China. How is that not taking the law into your own hands? Morrison has lost his center, and is now writing an unfocused mess.
A pop-sexy X-Men should have grand villains they can look great fighting; Morrison is up to something else -- he wants to bring these characters down to earth, so characters such as a nervous girl with eight sets of lips on her neck confront a bunch of nervous racist jerks. When Jean Grey gets involved her telekinesis -- which is powered by the cosmic strength of the Phoenix and later in the book we will learn can manipulate mater on the molecular level -- is used to make the U-Men throw up in their helmets, and shit their pants. I see how that is funny, in the abstract, but, like Preacher, it is not the kind of funny I am looking for -- it seems juvenile behavior from the people Morrison wants us to see as the future of humanity on earth here and now. Bad art makes this worse -- and Kordey is especially rushed here, reusing his own art whenever he can, and drawing very ugly faces on Jean Grey when she should look like an alien goddess.
When Mr. Sublime falls of the building it is a weak end to a bad villain. I don't know if it is Kordey or Morrison's decision to bring the whole thing down to an even lower level by having his toupee fall off just before he falls, but it is cartoonish, cliched, lame, and better suited to the tone of a movie like One Crazy Summer.