Thursday, February 22, 2007

Grant Morrison's New X-Men 124

[This post is part of a series of posts looking at Grant Morrison's New X-Men issue by issue; the label at the bottom of this post will take you to more.]

Ok, this is the worst art ever. Kordey seems VERY rushed here -- these are less like finished images than enlarged thumbnails. The only exception is the final image, which I quite like. It shows a good design sense nowhere visible in the issue anywhere else. Kordey is not bad, he is just not good here.

I think it was in the Authority that someone pointed out that the team could wipe out all life on Earth in 24 hours; Ellis and then Millar make you believe they could. The Shi'ar Imperial Guard, if I am understanding this correctly (and it is Morrison's fault for not being clear on this important point if I am not) have come to destroy all mutants on Earth, starting with Xavier's. Are they going to beat them all up individually? They don't seem at all up to the job of genocide: One is bitching about the temperature (Wolverine kills him instantly), the Cookoos take out another, Angel just punches one and with the help of the girls, he is out. The Beast makes them sound very tough, but he takes two down with two swipes of his claws, and takes another out by hitting him on the head with a statue. Jean beats one with a kick, an elbow to the face, and a slam against a wall. One is a sack of air so a touch from Wolverine sends him flying around the room like a balloon with a leak -- this does not seem like your best warrior for a thing called an Imperial Guard. He could be beaten with a toothpick. The Beast ties two up with the rubber body of a third, makes them vomit on each other, and smacks their heads together, like Moe from the Three Stoogers. I know Wolverine is tough but everyone he touches just goes down. And let's all remember how sick the X-Men are, weakened through robot-HIV. To top it all off Guardian says "You fought well. No force in the cosmos has ever disabled so many of the imperial superguardian elite." Well that surprises me, since even your lowest rent Lifetime Movie Network stalker can pull himself together after getting hit in the head with a statue, or punched in the face.

You want to think that these guys are not at their best because of Nova, but she is not controlling them -- she is controlling the Empress and they are following her orders. They have come to kill every mutant on Earth, but, seeing that fight, you feel like a half decent baseball team could end them altogether. It is a big letdown, because it was set up HUGE: in the last pages of issue 117 Nova says, looking at the Shi'ar battleship "Imagine the responsibility of all that destructive potential, the power to crack the firmament and extinguish suns ... Imagine that in the wrong hands." Well I did, and a dozen weirdos fighting like little girls was not so much what I pictured.

Meanwhile, on the Shi'ar battleship Cyclops and Xorn are about to get fired into space from something that looks almost exactly like a big double-barreled shot gun, one person stuffed awkwardly in each barrel. It is not an impressive image. This is surely be one of the lowest points in Morrison's New X-Men run.

A lot of people consider Morrison's New X-Men to be a classic, one of the great runs. If you are one of those people, I would like you to explain to me why we should use the word "classic" or "great" to describe a run that contains such a seriously flawed issue. I think "classic" and "great" have to be reserved for those comics that do not go off the rails like this.


Dan said...

Great summary, as always, Geoff. The Shi'ar 'fighting like little girls' is a phrase that I believe will stay with me forevermore.

As for your question as to how we could define a run with such a flawed issue as 'great', I guess it depends on how one wants to define 'great'.

From a purely philosophical perspective, however, I, personally, don't think the overall quality of a work should be judged by its low point. For example, the television show Monty Python's Flying Circus to me is an example of great sketch comedy. The fact that some of the sketches are in no sense any good doesn't alter that fact. The best ones just burn away the rubbish ones, leaving you with an overall sense of greatness.

Similarly, I can conceive of a universe where an individual issue reached a lowpoint such as this, but the highs of the rest of the run swamped it to such an extent that there was no choice but to deem the overall run to be 'great'.

Alas, it's not our universe. But still, from a purely theoretical POV, I feel I must quibble.


ZC said...

Using this issue as an example, I honestly never really noticed most of the low points you point out (except for the crappy Kordley art). I know this doesn't really speak well of me, but...

Pretty much, I didn't see the fights as wow the Shi'ar Imperial Guard are a bunch of pansies, but rather huh the X-Men are a bunch of badasses.

I.e. I feel for Morrison's conceit in the whole thing, you know?

I dunno--I've always thought that I'm not particularly critical, and that I can suspend my disbelief more than most people. Eheh.

Geoff Klock said...

Dan: Sketch comedy is different than a large narrative -- a narrative is supposed to work as a whole. If its parts fail and fail badly this effects the whole, I think.

zc: suspension of disbelief has to do with buying a world where aliens exist. It is not related to screenwriting mistakes that could have been easily fixed.

Kiehlmanniac said...

It's worth noting that this is the issue that Kordey drew in a week, because of Quitely's lateness. At this point he was drawing three comics a month, which was clearly too much.

Morrison's scripts had been written in advance, and so for Quitely. Kordey's style really doesn't fit. Not an excuse by any means, but Kordey gets unjustly slagged for much of this art, which was good, considering the circumstances. Now, yeah, circumstances were unreasonable, but that's editorial and Quitely's fault.

Gary said...

It was in Stormwatch that Jack Hawksmoor pointed out that Stormwatch could wipe out all life on Earth in 24 hours. It was the first part of the two part storyline introducing the Bleed, where in an alternate universe Jack Hawksmoor leads Stormwatch and the Kherans (?) are coming back to Earth.

Anonymous said...

I know I'm dreadfully late to the party but this is honestly my favorite Kordey issue.

Kordey's time limit allowed him to get out of his own way. His pages are clear and read fluidly. You can almost feel the camera pan between cinematic angles and cut in close for individual beats. He takes an issue clearly written for Quitely's sensibilities and makes it uniquely his own. And in the fight sequences at the center of the issue he makes the X-Men look incredibly badass.

This is the Post-Human sexy you were looking for and you can't see it because you want shiny artwork.