Monday, April 23, 2007

Grant Morrison's New X-Men 141

Bishop's partner Sage, who we last saw with a gun to her head, has been incapacitated, and before she recovers she gibbers random things including "sun in a box" and "horse trap". Both are nicely chosen, and foreshadow what is to come: Magneto is hiding within the walls of the mansion waiting to leap out, as the soldiers waited to leap out of the Trojan Horse; rather than hiding in a horse, Magneto pretends to be a man in an iron mask who has a star for a brain -- a sun in a box.

It appears Sage was the victim of a psychic attack -- you have to wonder what the point of pulling a gun on her at all was -- and now she cannot remember the last hour. This is a high tech version of being hit on the head and getting amnesia, which is very very lame.

Hank says of the murder: "I bet everyone thinks it's me, don't they?" What a pathetic thing to say. He sounds like a depressed teenager who make everything about themselves. Is there ANY reason for anyone to think he did it?

Bishop says the murder weapon was "custom engineered by experts to fire a diamond bullet capable of shattering Emma Frost in her mineral form." "You checked for fingerprints..." is Professor X's response. Yeah, the guy had this super weapon custom designed by experts and tailor made to kill one person, and he forgot to wipe his fingerprints off of it, or Bishop forgot to check for them. Idiots.

Jean, in a very weird shot by Jimenez in this issue, has the largest breasts I have seen since Lady Death. You just feel like there is no one at the helm of this ship.

Jean uses the Phoenix Force to resurrect Emma and says, in a line I love, that Emma has fallen in love with Scott and that it is actually quite sweet. Angel has a weird litter of babies that have hybrid Beak-Angel mutations that are actually quite fun and silly.

But this plot arc completely fails to deliver on the level of plot at all. No reader believes Emma is really dead -- and we turn out to be right, which is sad. We never believe any of Bishop's "suspects" could really have done it. We learn Esme psychically manipulated Angel to shoot Emma Frost because she learned something secret, but we don't find out what because the relevant information has been deleted from their minds. Also, if Emma learned something she should not have and then suddenly had to be killed, way to plan ahead and have a weapon that was custom designed to kill her just lying around. Then we learn Esme did NOT manipulate Angel at all and that is was someone else altogether but no one knows who. We learn someone else is behind Esme, but we don't find out who. And after Bishop ran a detailed investigation to catch the murderer, Esme, the only person who could tell them anything, literally just walks out of the front of the mansion after knocking out both Bishop and Sage in an instant and gets in a cab. Bishop said with psychics, crime takes on a whole new meaning, but obviously that did not involve him doing ANYTHING to protect he and his partner from any kind of psychic attack. Jean could not have done anything to catch that taxi taking Esme from Westchester?

This is a fancy way of saying Morrison wrote a murder mystery in which the victim comes back to life and the killer gets away with what he did without being identified. The low point of the series; the next issue is a high point of the series. See what I mean about uneven?

17 comments:

Ted said...

Paul Briggs of the x-axis (http://www.thexaxis.com) has been cataloguing X-Comics for a long time. His comments on this run (which he adores) would be fascinating reading for you, methinks. At the very least, it'd be a battle the likes of Godzilla and Rodan.

Geoff Klock said...

THAT WEBSITE IS EXACTLY WHY I STARTED DOING THIS! He gave New X-Men 140 -- the low point of the series -- an A. The only way that is possible is if he has no idea what the letter A stands for. He even had some small things to complain about and STILL gave this an A. Any issue of Watchmen or Dark Knight Returns or Casanova is an A. Makes me crazy people grabbing an issue like this and calling it an A.

hcduvall said...

Paul O'Brien that is.

I think he's more successful than some reviewers, though it's always intersting when ones good will towards a creator clearly influences a review.

Jason Powell said...

Paul O'Brien is an excellent critic, I think, although I rarely agree with him. Also, it seems unfair to suggest that his positive reviews of "New X-Men" are out of ignorance (i.e., of what the grade "A" means) or an overabundance of bias. My impression is always that he has particular things that he looks for in a story, and they're not necessarily the same things that, for example, Geoff Klock looks for.

On the other hand, this comes from me, and I have not read "New X-Men," so I don't even know whom I agree with here. But I'm both a Klock fan and an O'Brien fan, and I hate to see one disparage or impugn the other just because of a difference of opinion.

Jason Powell said...

Hey, I have an observation I've been wanting to make, but wasn't sure where it should go. I guess in the Comments of one of the New X-Men reviews works, because what first got me thinking about it was your review of one of the first Morrison issues. In the review, you wrote:

"Professor X says the famous line from the very first X-Men comic book: "to me, my X-Men."

I then was reading Joe Casey's intro to his "Children of the Atom" TPB (an X-Men #0), where he says he wanted to explain how a bunch of rebellious teenagers got to the point where they were so pledged to this creepy bald professor that they came running the moment he commanded, "To me, my X-Men."

Obviously everbody thinks this line is spoken by Professor X in X-Men #1, but ... I've read it, and I can't find it.

The closest I could find is in the very last panel, after the X-Men have defeated Magneto, he says, "Return to me, my X-Men!" The words are so broken in the word-balloon that "to me, my X-Men" appears on a single line, whereas the "Return" is on the line previous (if that makes sense).

So I guess yeah, technically, "to me, my X-Men" is in X-Men #1. But then I guess you could say that "power comes great responsibility" is the classic line from Spider-Man's origin, and that the Silver Age was first ushered in by that classic superhero team "Astic Four."

I think this may be one of those iconic, oft-quoted lines that was never actually said in the original material being quoted. A bit like, "Beam me up, Scotty" or "Elementary, my dear Watson"...

Geoff Klock said...

First off, I am right to be taken to task for being mean to Paul O'Brien like I did. I should not have said he does not know what an A means.

But I stand by what I meant, which is that As should not be given out that freely, or reviews become meaningless. How can an issue like this can be an A. How can I put my trust in a person -- and he is asking for my trust because as a reviewer he wants to tell me what to spend money on.

HCD: "more succcessful than some" is not exactly high praise.

Jason: But he breaks the most basic rules for an A, saying an issue has problems and STILL giving it an A when A has to mean perfect.

And yeah, I noticed that To Me My X Men is not in X-Men 1 when I got my DVDrom of all the X-Men issues. I was going to post it. Is it is Giant Size X-Men 1?

hcduvall said...

Geoff: That's mostly my own penchant for diminutives. He does very well considering the tonnage of comics he's set himself out to review. He's one of the better ones, though I stand by the comment that he occasionally will give an A to B sounding plot by a admired team, when a B team gets the B. In his favor, that really only affects the letter grade, the reviews themselves are well reasoned, if not the score.

I imagine that sort of thing happens when you grade in context of what comics arrive at the same time. An A comic may not be that in the whole history of the form, but when you read it after a bunch of "the devil is Nightcrawler's father" stories, even a weak murder mystery looks brighter.

Jason Powell said...

"Is it in Giant Size X-Men 1?"

I don't think so, although I haven't read it in a while.

"But he breaks the most basic rules for an A, saying an issue has problems and STILL giving it an A when A has to mean perfect. "

That puts him on the same level with just about every college professor who ever taught me.

"In his favor, that really only affects the letter grade, the reviews themselves are well reasoned, if not the score."

That's true, and O'Brien has even said that he puts little thought into the letters -- they're really just a way to cap off his review. It's the content above the letter that really matters.

"but when you read it after a bunch of "the devil is Nightcrawler's father" stories, even a weak murder mystery looks brighter."

Indeed.. Does an "A" still mean "perfect" when you're grading on a curve?

Geoff Klock said...

HCD and Jason Powell: you have both made good points, and I am not going to respond to them now because I think this deserves a bigger debate here. This is a VERY important issue and I think it deserves at least one whole post dedicated to it. What I may do is contact Paul O'Brien -- who seems like a very nice guy -- and see if we cannot get a little debate going.

No, I have to say something about grading on a curve: if NXM 140 is not getting complained about in the review that is a hell of a curve.

Troy Wilson said...

"That's true, and O'Brien has even said that he puts little thought into the letters -- they're really just a way to cap off his review. It's the content above the letter that really matters."

Well, if he puts little thought into the letter grades, I'll pay little attention to them. Maybe he should just elminate them entirely so they're not an albatross around the content's neck.

Jason Powell said...

Well, that's cool. And Paul is a nice guy, or at least he always has been to me, in the few e-mail correspondences I've had with him.

Speaking of which, check this out:

http://www.thexaxis.com/indexes/silverage/12.htm

I'm the "Jason Powell" being thanked. I was so tickled by this when he first published it.

Troy Wilson said...

Congrats on the shout-out, Jason. Very cool.

Geoff, I think a bigger debate on this issue is a great idea, and I look forward to it.

One more point about the letter grades. If Paul doesn't eliminate them, maybe he could shrink them a bit. If they're not very important, then they probably shouldn't be so darn huge.

neilshyminsky said...

On grades - over at comicboards.com, where my reviews are cross-listed, we have a Pitchfork.com-inspired 10.0 system. I'll admit to not giving them much thought, though, beyond coming up with something that will look provocative or strange - I give scores like 7.7 not because they reflect some notion I have of the book's quantitative value, but because it can draw people in to see how I justify such a ludicrously exact score.

Now O'Brien might be at fault for writing a review that fails to adequately explain his score, but I can see the usefulness of having a score nonetheless.

Troy Wilson said...

"One more point about the letter grades. If Paul doesn't eliminate them, maybe he could shrink them a bit. If they're not very important, then they probably shouldn't be so darn huge."

Huge as in type size, I mean.

Matt Brady said...

The debate about letter grades (or stars, thumbs, etc.) is an interesting one. I stay away from that sort of thing, because it's often silly and difficult to boil down the entire content of a review into one symbol. But I can understand the desire to do so, and it's a device that has kind of become ingrained in popular criticism through most movie critics. I like Neil's idea: give it a ridiculously exact score just to get people curious about how you could justify that, thus getting them to read the review.

Good points about the issue, Geoff. I commented on the last issue about some of the stuff that I liked here (like the Beak/Angel babies), and you mention it also, but it's drowned out by the mediocrity of the story. Did we ever find out who was really behind the "murder"? For all the praise Bishop gets in these issues as a policeman, he sure doesn't do a very good job of detecting. And did we ever learn the big secret that Emma knew? Or was it just a MacGuffin? Huh. Yes, a definite low point of the series.

Stephen said...

A Klock/O'Brien debate would be awesome. Please, please do it!!

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