[This post is part of a series of posts looking at Grant Morrison's New X-Men run issue by issue. For more posts like this click the new X-Men label at the bottom of this post.]
"Have your eyes grown back yet" is a great first line for any comic book; you knew Wolverine and Jean were not dead, but this is such a cool way to announce it.
Meanwhile, the Beast and Emma's ship, after it blew up in mid-air, crashed in the ocean and floated; the Beast and Emma survived somehow and have been sitting on it for three days. The combination of a lack of imagination and missing information here is maddening. Emma's response to Jean's dramatic rescue on the other hand -- "Bloody Jean showing off again" -- is wonderful.
Some nice foreshadowing: Magneto says he always suspected there was more to Ernst than meets the eye, and Esme knows who Weapon 13 is -- both of these details will lead into the true identity of these characters in the next four issues.
Fantomex's "You and whose knees" is a great little quip, and his retort "is everything you say a cliche" is great -- that actually makes Morrison's theme here fun.
Scott gets genuinely angry at Xorn for not being Xorn -- he is the voice of the reader here, angry that Xorn was never real -- but then lamely backs off after blasting him in the face: "I didn't mean to...". He almost changed, but Morrison's unpleasant little point here comes back and comes back -- he will always be weak and stifled because the X-Men, like Magneto, are in a repetitive cycle, a metaphor for the franchise (Morrison makes this point explicitly in a popimage interview a while back). That is why Morrison has Hank attack Magneto just like Hank attacked Nova, jumping on him with needles. We are already cycling back, and Morrison is not even done yet.
In "E for Extinction" Morrison introduced the idea that humanity is going to die out because of a genetic trigger. Hank has solved it in this issue, scratching on the wing of the plane. So there ends that little plot, which started the book off with so much edge. Morrison is angrily ending the things he introduced because he is finished writing this book, not because the story itself demands that they end here. It works with his theme, but it makes him a bad storyteller in these issues.
Magneto just kills Jean with an electromagnetic pulse, giving her a stroke. Again, not great storytelling, but Morrison is just fucking done here, and so he ends it. Wolverine cuts Magneto's head off; no more of the mutant justice Morrison introduced in his early issues, in which a genocidal maniac gets rehabilitated in the robot body of an alien. Heads roll like the French Revolution.
The issue, against all odds, ends beautifully, hauntingly. It is a wonderful end to a pitiful story, which is such a strange thing. Morrison can tell a story, he just does not want to in much of "Planet X" because his theme is that these repetitive superhero stories suck. As Jean dies a crack in the universe is created -- Jimenez just draws a simple tear in the page and zooms in on it, rather than do some cosmic shot of the multiverse or something more inhuman and Crisis-like. Scott in tears calls for Xorn failing to remember Xorn is not real until he says the name out lout, which is heartbreaking. The panels shrink into nothingness and break apart, and Jean calls Scott her best friend, tells him (in the voice of the Phoenix) to Live, and then (back to Jean's voice) says in small letters "All I ever did was die on you." Morrison can do wonders, when he wants to.