Monday, May 21, 2007

Grant Morrison's New X-Men 147

[This post is part of a series of posts looking issue by issue at Grant Morrison's New X-Men. For more of the same hit the New X-Men label at the bottom of this post.]

This issue has a nice structure -- We jump head to Magneto at his headquarters, and we learn in brief page-spread single-image flashbacks that he took over Manhattan island and destroyed Xavier's mansion in one day. We don't really need to see Magneto being a terrorist -- we have seen this before, and that is one of Morrison's points here. Jimenez does a great job with the art in these spreads. The only thing that bothers me here is the destruction of the mansion -- did he kill all the students?

In his triumph Magneto says to his new brotherhood "I have turned the world on its head for you. The lowest are now the highest." The image shows a bizarre lineup: Martha (the brain in the jar), Ernst (the old woman little girl), Basilisk (the giant one eyed guy, in street clothes), Esme (of the Cookoos, looking like an 80s idea of a tramp), Toad (in street clothes), Beak and Angel (both in X-Men jackets, which is odd) and Angel's weird babies (in diapers, with huge black eyes and gossamer wings). It is an odd image, especially in the context of the Morrison's "cool" manifesto. The weirdos have taken over, but given Morrison's treatment of them -- we have no idea why they would side with Magneto here at all, or stand tall with him after he wrecked New York -- it is not very persuasive, especially since Ernst does not understand that Xorn was not real. What was she thinking in the first place? If we knew that, if we understood these characters better, we could care more. Morrison is skipping over some important information.

The X-Men team appear in head-shots under superimposed Xs -- Xavier is listed as "missing" and everyone else is "missing in action". In a minute this will become a plot point -- Esme says it seems like Magneto wants the X-Men to come and get him, or he would make sure they are all dead. For now we have the same problem as last issue, and in the Riot: Morrison wants to show that Magneto is lame, but making your villain lame does not make for very interesting storytelling.

The sentimental radio message that appeared in Morrison's September 11th tribute turns out now to have been a virus to disable the world's technology. This is a very weird detail, and seems tacked on to me -- I doubt Morrison had that in mind when he wrote that issue, in which he seemed to be really aiming for the sentimental.

Morrison wants to make a joke about Magneto being too old fashioned: Magneto addresses the masses, and they do not react as he wants them too; Toad remarks that no one is sure what is going on, the speakers are distorting his voice, and no one can tell who he really is. What doesn't make the scene make sense is the question of why Magneto would think they could tell who he was all the way up on top of a skyscraper. The crowd has a short attention span, and so Magneto turns to Kick to make he powers more dramatic. He says lamely "just one more time..." Again, interesting interpreting, bad storytelling.

And here we see Morrison's Magneto emerge: he just destroys New York City landmarks, including the Statue of Liberty, because he is a petty horrible man out for attention. Morrison wants Magneto to be very unsympathetic, and he succeeds, but it is a Phyrric victory, as his story is no fun as a result. I have written elsewhere about why Morrison's Magneto does not work -- go to the archives for July 30, 2006.

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