Thursday, June 07, 2007

Grant Morrison's New X-Men 151

[This post is part of a series of posts dedicated to an issue by issue look at Grant Morrison's run on New X-Men. For more of the same click the New X-Men label at the bottom of this post.]

In the essay I wrote for Reconstruction years ago I noted that a writer's run on a title was like the translation of canonical poetry -- a new version of old things for a new generation of readers. Just as "Assault on Weapon Plus" was Morrison's take on the Weapon X program, "Here Comes Tomorrow" is his take on "Days of Future Past". What is important is that he chooses to end his run by jumping in the far future -- a future with Wolverine still around doing his cool Wolverine swagger, a future where the Beast still alive (as a version of the X-Men villain Apocalypse -- he is the Beast of the Apocalypse obsessed as Apocalypse is, with genetic perfection), a future with an original sentinel is still around, a future in which Phoenix is back (again) dressing slutty (again), and a future with warhead shaped boobs drawn by Mark Silvestri. Morrison's point with Magneto was that the X-Men are stuck in a cycle. In "Here Comes Tomorrow" it turns out that the future looks a lot like X-Men comics in the 1990s. The cycle goes on for as far as the eye can see.

And yet "Here Comes Tomorrow" is also the freshest thing in the run since Fantomex and Cassandra Nova, because in the future -- outside of the X-Men franchise, in a space that need not effect the tenure of any future writer -- Morrison gets to break out and just have the fun he should have been having all along. What makes the tone of "Here Comes Tomorrow" fascinating is that stale and fresh slam together -- Morrison can do whatever he wants, invent ANYTHING and play crazy games: and he remaps the world, giving us Tranatlantas, and Megamerica (Morrison is great at naming things). But is this world new? His final four issues, rather than being straight ahead inventive, invoke ideas from his previous thirty-seven -- Casandra Nova is back, E.V.A. is back, Fantomex may be back (I will talk about this in issue 154) the U-Men are back (well, one of them), John Sublime is back (in an odd form), the Cookoos are still around, the grandson of Beak is still around, Martha the human brain is still around. Morrison, like all X-Men writers, had to re-translate the canonical X-Men stories in his run; his run ends as he re-translates all the elements he introduced, a kind of reflexive micro version of the whole project. Just as his 41 issues revised X-Men history, his final four issues revise his own run.

It is an amazing way to end things. Morrison is very good at endings.


Dante Kleinberg said...

We can talk about it when we get to that issue, but I don't think there's any "may be" about Fantomex being back in this story.

This is a great arc. Loved the regular human with the pet sentinel. Super-cool stuff.

cerebra said...

i enjoyed the reimagining of the team utilizing some unconventional members (e.v.a, the sentinel as a guardian/pet, beak, etc). and an army of evil nightcrawlers is a terrifying image. also, i really enjoy silvestri's artwork; i think its realism complements morrison's imagination.

Mitch said...

My favorite future country name is "Extrailia". And "Bumbleboy" is a great name too. Also, the title "Here Comes Tomorrow" is great and surely has some interesting origins. It's probably just a silly parody of "Days of Future Past", which is pretty silly too, if you think about it.

I love these issues.

Geoff Klock said...

Cerebra: realism? really?

Mitch said...

Sorry- one more thing...

I love in this issue when E.V.A. says to Tom about him (a normal human) joining the X-Men, "The Xavier Creed has always stressed integration".

That makes me laugh, because they've "always stressed integration," yet it took 150 years and the apocalypse for a normal human to join the team. haha.

Jason Powell said...

So with all this meta-commentary (is that the right phrase) on the "cycles" of superhero comics, what is Grant Morrison actually *saying*? That superheroes fight the same villains over and over?

Is there a superhero fan on the planet who needed Grant Morrison to tell them this?

I haven't read the comics under discussion so perhaps I'm unqualified to criticize ... but honestly I just don't see the point.

If Chris Claremont and John Byrne had approached the X-Men with this same "nothing-new-is-possible" jadedness, there wouldn't even BE a Dark Phoenix Saga or Days of Future Past for Morrison to do his cynical pastiche of in the first place.

wwk5d said...

Amen, Jason.

Also, setting your story int he future doesn't make it fool proof for future writers. During his second run on Excaliber, Alan Davis revisited the Day of Future Past storyline, and gives it a few tweaks and a happy ending. This is comics, nothing, not even stories set in the future, are set in stone. Maybe if GM does a sequel to his run on X-men, that can be his meta-commentary :D