[This post is part of a series of posts looking at Grant Morrison's New X-Men issue by issue. To read earlier posts in the series click the New X-Men link at the bottom of this post].
Is it a coincidence that one issue after Quitely leaves Beak is introduced, and in the three issues after that, drawn by Sciver and Kordey, Angel plays a main role? That when Quitely returns for two issues (121 and 122) these characters are nowhere to be found (except as part of the crowd attending Emma's lecture in 122)? That when Quitely leaves again in this issue, drawn by Sciver, the first page is a shot of Angel? This must be a coincidence -- certainly Quitely will eventually draw both Beak and Angel in prominent roles. But the fact that at this point Beak and Angel, who are against the spirit of the Morrison-Quitely manifesto, appear when Quitely leaves, disappear when he returns, and appear again when he leaves again, contributes seriously to the book's unevenness. It feels not just that the artists are isolated from each other, but that they are working against one another.
Sciver again is quite uneven. My hunch is that he is talented but rushed. He draws a great Jean Grey on page two, but very strange Wolverine claws on page 3; Cyclops looks right, but the Cookoo girl flirting looks just bizarre in the worst way.
Morrison, again following the lead of his artist (if that is even possible, since he may write these scripts before knowing who will draw then), writes very unevenly. Nova, it turns out, has infected the X-Men with nano-sentinels, giving them AIDS caused by tiny robots in their bloodstreams. That is a stroke of genius, especially when you place it in the context of all that they are dealing with at once: Charles dying from a series of motor neuron disorders, Nova returning with the Shi'ar, being "outed" and having to protect the media.
But Morrison also goes screwy on a couple of points. Everyone will tell me this is too minor to care about but when the Cookoos get annoyed with one of their own saying "she's kissing him now. That practically makes her a slut" that feels off to me; this is written at a time when the newspapers are going crazy about middle schools and oral sex --Morrison's Cookoos seems like an earlier generation of high school students, which is a problem given how progressive Morrison wants to be, looking at the future of post-humanism.
This looks especially bad in this issue where we get what should be Morrison's big statement on post-humanism: the last testament of Charles Xavier. It is a pretty thin testament.
"Charles saw that we were all just scared of being hurt and betrayed by one another."
"Everyone wants to be a persecuted minority these days, but the institute tries not to encourage that kind of defeatist world-view."
"Xavier's is a school. We're here to teach our students to take care of themselves and other people."
"[The X-men simply] monitor and resolve mutant emergency situations; we're here for everyone's protection."
"We're giving the world Mutant musicians, mutant doctors and athletes."
"Our telepaths can voyage into the depths of the human mind and free people from ancient destructive behavior patterns. Humans and mutants are branches on the same evolutionary tree. The very idea that we should fight is absurd; it's like one finger fighting another."
"All of us, humans and mutants, have to spend the rest of our lives in the future. Let's get together and make it a nice place to live."
Jean Grey calls this "an outpost of the future, here and now" but it just sounds like a lot of lame self-help books, and perfectly traditional ideas about education. Morrison is misunderstanding his strengths: he is a fantastic storyteller, with great sci-fi crazy ideas and a lot of heart. But he is not a philosopher, nor does he do ground level, day to day realism very well.