[This post is part of a series looking at Grant Morrison's New X-Men run issue by issue; for more of the same click the New X-Men label at the bottom of this post].
Emma Frost has been murdered; someone in the mansion did it, and so the place is sealed off until the murderer can be discovered by a detective brought in. "No one in, no one out; everyone in this room is a suspect." Morrison is doing a golden age Agatha Christie style murder mystery with Bishop in the Miss Marple role (the quote above is his). This is one of the worst ideas in the whole run. People get mad when I say stuff like that, but it is not a free standing quote -- I always give a lot of evidence. The basic problem is this: a genre fusion should feel organic -- space IS like the old west frontier; if superheroes are zombies then bringing in Galactus makes perfect sense. The superhero Agatha Christie story just doesn't fuse.
In Agatha Christie the lockdown is there so the murder will not be an outside job or an off the wall twist; it gives you a limited number of suspects so you have a chance to figure it out. But I cannot understand how this lockdown is practical in a superhero comic. Bishop SAYS that in a world of mindreaders, shapechangers and disembodied consciousnesses crime takes on a whole new meaning, but this is maddening: everything he DOES suggests this is an old fashioned -- like 1920s fiction old fashioned -- attempt to find a killer. He asks each person at the mansion a question or two -- not even very good questions -- and then moves on to someone else. Even psychics just get questions like Where were you at the time of the murder? Part of the problem is time -- in a 22 page comic you cannot flesh out these scenes; Bendis and Oeming's Powers can take the pages and pages it takes to establish the tension in these kinds of conversations but Morrison does not have that kind of time. Also Bendis is writing something a lot more like actual cops, which makes much more sense then resurrecting a long dead genre in bizarre a new context.
Jean just uses the Phoenix Power to simply and magically convince him that she did not do it. As readers we are asked to just believe this; it isn't that I don't -- obviously Jean did not get a gun and shoot Emma -- but is shows you how rushed Morrison is. Everyone gets about a page to be cleared.
The image of badass Bishop looking like a futuristic version of a 70s cop in a leather trench coat and body armor sitting in the professor's office drinking tea out of tiny cup and sticking his pinkie finger out as he does so sort of sums up the whole problem. It is such a silly image, and it is surely not supposed to be -- this story is the buildup to the Magneto story, and a main character has been killed.
Xorn -- Magneto -- has the kids playing Clue. OK. As a murder mystery game in a mansion this is a parody of the story arc it appears in -- Basilisk says "It was professor Sex with the lawnmower -- that's whodunnut." Morrison is making fun of himself, but it is hard to see what the point is. Whedon makes jokes like that, but emotionally deflates the story in such a way that you can care about it more (the people on screen are only human). Morrison highlights how artificial the whole thing is, which has the opposite effect.
Bishop, figuring out Kick is involved, goes to a prison to talk to one of Quentin's Gang and find out who supplied the drug to the mansion. Two things to note here. Given that the "Riot" had an epilogue, it seems clear that there was some down time between "Riot" and "Murder in the Mansion". One: Did no one try to find out how these very dangerous drugs got into the school BEFORE sending the gang to prison? As a psychic headmaster, you think this would be important and easy. Two: all this talk about post-human, rather than merely human, justice, about the dawn of a new age where new rules will be applied and this is what you get -- they sent the remaining members of the gang to a perfectly human New York State Maximum Security Penitentiary? Casandra Nova kills 16 million mutants and is rehabilitated at the mansion; a teenager sells drugs and does drug related violence in a gang of teens and he goes to normal human prison, where he is clearly being abused -- he begs Bishop to get him away because "there are people in here that really do not like mutants". I do not get it.
Then Beak says he killed Miss Frost -- we do not believe this for one second -- and someone pulls a gun on Sage, Bishop's partner, as the ending beat to this story. Really? A gun to the head? Can a woman with a computer for a brain even be killed like that? It is an ending that makes sense in another story, but means nothing here.
If I am wrong about any of this -- if these are not really problems at all -- please let me know. Cause they seem like MAJOR problems to me.