[This post is part of a series of posts looking at Grant Morrison's New X-Men run issue by issue. For more in this series click the New X-Men link below.]
Xavier, responding to the satellite explosion from the last issue, screams out "X-MEN EMERGENCY!" in a single page image, with huge letters -- The first line of dialogue is also the issue's title, I think. Perhaps I am being cynical and tired, but it seems like an overreaction. You have a hard time imagining him freaking out every time something like this happens, since it happens so often. But that is probably just me being mean.
Scott and Fantomex, escaping from the satellite, crash into the Pacific Ocean shortly after. Henry and Emma's jet explodes trying to rescue them. The following issues will make a thematic point out of Magneto's lack of imagination, but I will renew my objection to this device: in criticizing something lame you are also giving us something lame -- I would rather see Morrison come up with something more clever than blowing up Wolverine on a satellite, blowing up Scott and Fantomex on a plane, blowing up another plane with Hank and Emma on their way to rescue them, then blowing up Jean and Wolverine moments after she rescues him. (I have mentioned 9-11 with Morrison here -- is this another allusion to that? Crummy terrorists with their bombs and lack of imagination?). More lack of imagination will follow with an eeeeevil upside down map, and an eeeeevil bolt lock that locks itself -- a very poor way to build to the reveal of the Master of Magnetism; in a superhero universe, you have to feel the bolt lock is going to be a minor obstacle, even if Xavier is crippled again and there are no superheroes around.
One nice detail that got a bit buried here is that Scott has reported there is a traitor in the mansion, and then Magneto is revealed to have been Xorn the whole time. But of course the traitor Scott is talking about is Weapon 14, whose identity will not be revealed until the next arc. THAT is an example of clever plotting that I want to see more of. My general complaint with New X-Men is not that it is bad but that it is uneven.
Elsewhere we see Xorn addressing the special class. It seems he has just finished his "pitch" and is now asking for a response from Dust. Given the reaction of everyone in the room, they agree with whatever it is Xorn just said. Given what happens in the next issue, this skipped over moment seems crucial -- it is hard to imagine drugged up Magneto, who everyone will hate in ten minutes, saying something persuasive to this group. I want to see what it is that made them want to follow him. It would make what follows much easier to swallow. This should have been set up long ago.
Dust's response is to run to Xavier, then panic when Xorn follows her; in her panic she will destroy Cerebra. Then we never hear from her again. This is the third and final appearance of what would have been an interesting character. It is a shame that Morrison had no better plans for her than this. This lack of imagination has nothing to do with the upcoming attack on Magneto for a lack of imagination -- the fact that this is in the same issue with the explosions tells me the problem is a problem Morrison is having, and not and intentional part of the theme of the story.
And the big reveal is here -- that Magneto has been Xorn the whole time. We have gone over the evidence on this blog issue by issue, and my conclusion is this: in order for this moment to have any impact it has to have been set up very well, and it was not. The nano-sentinels allowing Xavier to walk was a very nice detail, as was Xorn healing everyone by killing Nova's Nano sentinels; though the coincidence factor on that second one is very high -- Magneto pretends to be a healer and lucky him there is an easy way to pretend to be a healer that works perfectly with his powers. But I have too many questions about how Xorn could have been Magneto the whole time to have the Wow reaction Morrison must be looking for, and I have aired those complaints in earlier posts. We had a theory back when Scott picked up Xorn to help in the Nova fight that the Xorn in the annual was really Xorn, and Magneto replaced him between the annual and when Scott comes to get him (that would explain how Magneto was able to fool the psychics with a fake history) -- in this issue Magneto says There never was a Feng-Tu prison, it was all invented for the occasion. He may be lying, but my problem stands -- for a twist like this to work you have to lay the groundwork that makes it both inevitable and surprising. This is surprising, but hardly as inevitable as Morrison wants to to be when Magneto mocks Charles with "A man in an iron prison. A star for a brain? I kept thinking it was too obvious, but still you missed it." Well there was a lot of evidence that Xorn was real, and you did not explain why I should not have been fooled by it.