[This post is part of a series of posts looking issue by issue at Grant Morrison's New X-Men run -- for more of the same click the New X-Men label at the bottom of this post].
Magneto rejects the comparison between the Nazi's who killed his family and his own plan to lead humanity into a crematoria. The Beak points out that Magneto's plan is nothing new, which is Morrison's point about Magneto, but that does not make for good storytelling. It just gives us a one-dimensional Magneto. Later we will learn that Sublime is behind Magneto's insanity, but Morrison gives us a detail that I find frustrating: Magneto wrote an article that humans do not feel pain like mutants do. That is an absurd racist cliche -- and, again, that is Morrison's point -- but I have a very hard time seeing this version of Magneto sitting down to write something like that. I have a harder time believing that these students, with their fart jokes, would find it and read it -- he did not give it to them, since one student had to tell the others.
This all becomes much more pathetic as Beak objects that every living thing feels pain, even dogs and carrots, at which point there is a debate over whether the carrot is a fruit or a vegetable -- Magneto ends the conversation by declaring it a vegetable and hitting Beak in the face. Then he kills Basilisk over a fart joke. Morrison does a great job here at creating at atmosphere of total horror -- people are getting killed over nothing, but it is frustrating as a reader that this is the Big Bad for this arc, and not some idiot bully lackey. Again, Beak calling him a bully -- which is Morrison's point -- does not save this aspect of the story.
In the last post I asked how the special class could stand tall with psycho-Magneto. In this issue it turns out that Esme was influencing everyone's minds with Martha's super-brain. Again, frustrating. This has replaced any need for Morrison to characterize the special class, just as the Sublime reveal will allow his Magneto to not require characterization either -- no one acts like human beings, not because Morrison is a lazy writer in these issues, but because everyone is being controlled by someone else. The Martha reveal feels tacked on, in part, because there is no explanation as to why it has stopped working just now, for the rally back. It is a bit like Harry's convenient amnesia in Spiderman 3 -- it made the lives of the screenwriters easier.
Esme asks why Magneto is taking so long to switch the poles of the earth -- is he waiting for the X-Men to stop him? In this issue he also tells the comatose Xavier that he misses their struggles. That is actually good writing I think -- I like the idea that there is something in a villain like the Freud's death drive, a desire to be captured.
Ernst calls Magneto boring and old-fashioned at the end of this issue, and she says no one likes what he is doing and it is all coming to an end. This is the third such complaint in the issue, and -- again -- Morrison's point. Thematically this should make sense: the NEW X-Men versus OLD Magneto. But attacking old-fashioned monsters like Magneto to restore the status quo makes the X-Men the oldest and most traditional kind of superhero, not an inch away from Uncanny X-Men number one from 1963. Morrison's vision of a post-human outpost from the future in the here and now -- of a team who only called themselves superheroes because it was something the world could understand -- cannot sink lower.
At least Morrison has a great ending to his run prepared.