Monday, April 09, 2007

Grant Morrison's New X-Men 137

[This post is part of a series on Morrison's New X-Men run; for more, click the New X-Men label at the bottom of this post].

I have not talked about the covers in a while, but Quitely's covers are great and this is the best one in the arc. Just a tremendous about of clearly articulated chaos; your eye knows just where to go. Quitely is a great designer.

This issue -- this one issue -- is the riot: the rest of the arc is build up (a failed buildup in which no tension is established, as I have demonstrated) and epilogue. Our points about the gang reach fruition here: Morrison has been making fun of privileged teens by making them look like idiots and this issue is no exception: their "riot" is hot wax tossed out of broken windows, literally.

Emma says that she misses the verve and imagination of her old students -- the ones from Generation X, drawn by Chris Bachalo. So do I. In a great line, she makes fun of Quentin's Gang with "Seize the school and then what?" Of course she is right -- these guys have no plan. The problem, already covered here, is that you can make fun of Quentin's gang for being lame but you cannot expect to generate any story tension if your bad guys are morons. If they have no plans, they are not much of a threat. It's cool that Quentin can fuck with Wolverine, but it just seems like the worst these guys are going to do is kick everyone out of the school and break all the windows. When Cyclops hits one in the face, they freak out like the pathetic teenagers they are: "That's assault!" The anti-authority riot kids are now phrasing things for the police report they want to fill out; when push comes to shove these guys want to rely on traditional human authority to save their asses. I know this is to make fun of them, but Morrison is doing too good a job -- I fucking hate these guys, and want to be past this stupidity.

Then, in the chaos, Dummy -- from the special class -- is cut and dissipates (he is an intelligent gas in a rubber suit). This moment is a good one: we have bonded with this character last issue, so the death has some meaning.

As for the good guys? Saying "Let's all calm down" is still the best plan the paramilitary X-Men who bombed China can come up with to deal with drug addicted teenagers with powers formidable enough to disable Wolverine. Idiots.

Xavier just somehow -- it must have been so easy it is not worth showing -- got out of the helmet and calls them on being lame. "The revolution lasted minutes." The Cookoos say that this fight is not youth versus experience, or anarchy versus authority -- the fight is always "in" versus "out." I don't quite know what to do with that, but I kind of like it -- I like their point that, for example, experience or authority could be "in" (fascism, for example, in the Authority).

Quentin has got to be one of my least favorite comic book characters, but at least he dies cool, ripped apart psychically by the cookoos into skin, nerves, muscle, and skeleton. Thank god the X-Men had these girls as students, because the X-Men hade NO IDEA how to deal with the riot. Quentin did it all to impress a girl who died, somehow. Morrison keeps it off screen. Fine.

People are getting mad and my bad mood with these issues, and don't know when I will snap out of it. Here is a preview: Murder at the Mansion (three issues): AWFUL. Assault on Weapon Plus (four issues): AMAZING. Planet X (five issues): BAD. Here Comes Tomorrow (four issues): QUITE GOOD ACTUALLY. Assault on Weapon Plus and Planet X will be shorter posts, becauase I have written about them elsewhere, and will link to what I said when I post about them.


Madd_Hadder said...

I have to say that I wish I had read this run of books. I have half heartedly looked for it, but as I am still getting back into comics, it is all overwhelming.

Geoff Klock said...

If you have the cash you can get all of morrison's run in one big hadcover volume, though I think you should spend the money on something perfect. Get the All Star Superman collection and issue Seven, both of which are out Wed. Or get WE3.

Streebo said...

Even though you bring up many valid reasons for the weaknesses in Morrison's X-Men run - I must admit that these were the first X-Men books I picked up since the atrocious Executioners Song crossover in the early 90's.

I enjoyed almost everything in Morrison's run as long as it wasn't drawn by Kordey, and even then, I still liked Phantomex.

I know I'm setting myself up for a tongue lashing - but I liked Quentin Quire and his gang. No matter how lame they were. They were doing their best to play the Clockwork Orange gang card - and had no idea what to do with it. I loved how they adopted their gang colors from the old newspaper clipping about mutants. I love how they are utterly not cool. I read every X-book on the stands at one time - and it seemed that every issue featured some new super cool killer mutant that more often than not was someone related to Wolverine's past. Every character was made to seem important. Every month was an endless parade of new "cool" characters: Gideon, Deadpool, Cable, Feral, Shatterstar, Gambit, and on and on and on. Quentin Quire and his gang seemed to be the antithesis of this ultra-cool mutant mentality. I liked them for this reason alone if nothing else.

There are a lot of great characters and ideas in Morrison's run that weren't played out as strongly as they could have been. Characters like Quentin Quire, Jumbo Carnation, and the U-Men all contain the seeds to become powerful parts of the X-Men universe. I wonder if the weakness of the overall stories can be attributed to Morrison's poor mental health at the time?

I would humbly like to second Geoff's recommendation for Morrison's All Star Superman. It is the best superhero book on the stands today!

David Golding said...

I'm pretty sure that Quire is supposed to (visually) look cool. It's just that Morrison has a different sense of what's cool than, say, Liefeld. Check out Morrison's own drawing of future style on the last page of the second-to-last issue of The Invisibles.

Troy Wilson said...

streebo: What was up with Morrison's mental health during that period? Was that when his dad died? Or something else?

Streebo said...

David - I pretty much agree with you. I think Morrison intends to bring a punk against-the-grain sensibility to whatever he designs. (I'm doing my best not to say "post-modern") I remember spotting Quentin's call back to the "FUCK U." written on the forehead of the rebellious student at the end of The Invisibles. I thought that was a nice touch.

Troy - Here is the link to the Morrison interview:

"During the period of writing The Filth, which coincided in part with my tenure on New X-Men, I was so distressed and affected by what was happening and by the 'dark' material I was trying to process and resolve, that I hurled myself at a 3rd floor balcony in a hotel on Sunset Boulevard only to be hauled back by Kristan, scarred my chest and stomach with a jagged metal broom handle, and slashed at my own wrists ineptly but with sheer class, using a broken champagne bottle. Among many other idiotic and self-mutilating tangos with madness, designed, you might think, to look good in the biography (please, please, please don't try this at home, folks. the people on stage are professionals and experts, we are assured.). I was NOT MYSELF for a lot of the time and prey to all manner of obsessive disorientations."

Streebo said...

Oops. Clickable link:

Morrison Interview

Geoff Klock said...

Streebo, David: I am with David here, Morrison wants Quentin to look cool, and he kinda does. And as for your "seeds" idea, that is a very nice way of saying Morrison invents great ideas and does nothing with them (e.g. "Dust"), which I think is pretty much a crime.

Also you have to wonder how seriously to take Morrison here. I LOVE Grant Morrison but that does not mean everything he says in interviews happened. In the interview where he says he was kidnapped by aliens he also says that a comic book writer has to give the impression of being cool so people will buy his comics. He is a genius, but part of that genius is that he is very smart with PR.

Troy Wilson said...

Thanks for the quote and the link, Streebo.

And I agree, Geoff. He is very smart with PR.

Matt Brady said...

Geoff, I wanted to reassure you that it's okay for you to have a bad mood if you don't like this stuff. I commented on it previously, mostly because it amused me. It's hard to make sarcasm or dry humor come across in print. ;-) But keep writing what you feel; I (and others, hopefully) have no problem with you calling something out as bad.

wwk5d said...

I've said it before and I'll say it again, in real life, GM comes across as one giant douche.

BTW, I'd have to say, Dust survived the post-Morrison era rather nicely...prob one of his longer lasting legacies, after Scott/Emma.