Monday, June 11, 2007

Grant Morrison's New X-Men 152

[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].

The last of John Sublime's 3rd Species U-Men is seen here for the first time -- he works for the Beast, calls himself Apollyon the Destroyer, and may be Fantomex (which we will talk about in two more issues). We have a reader here doing a thesis on Morrison's New X-Men: he noticed that in The World Fantomex and EVA are like Adam and Eve; here, if this is Fantomex, he has gone from being a figure at the beginning of Christian time, to one at the end -- Apolloyon is a figure from the biblical Apocalypse.

I have come around to liking Mark Silvestri's art on this book, but occasionally it does not work; here it is just too self-serious for drawing something like a mutant who has a magic flying car. Morrison needs an artist who is fun for his fun ideas.

When Tom tells the children that the good guys always win, and one of them replies flatly that current statistical thinking suggests otherwise -- that is one of my favorite little lines in the book. I really don't know why, though. Tom is a great character, and playing his connection to a giant old school sentinel and his attraction to EVA as a love triangle is great fun, a great twist on an old formula.

The three remaining Cookoos describe the horror of the Beast taking over the world: "Evolution will grind to a halt. The future will belong to mass produced biological conformity." In terms of Morrison's little meta-story, this is his condemnation of the X-Men franchise that he simply cannot do anything with -- the future of superhero fiction is mass produced conformity.

And just another note on Morrison being great at naming things: Panafrica and Extrailia.

The highlight of this issue is a great two page spread of the team going off to fight the Beast -- Beak, Nova, Martha, Wolverine, EVA, Tom, and Rover. It will turn out that the Cookoos, working from home base, are Weapon 13, which means that half of the team consists of sentinels (the original sentinel, and Weapons 10, 13, and 14). Given that Wolverine is a mutant and Weapon 10, Martha is just a mutant brain, Tom is a human, and Nova is whatevertheheck she is supposed to be (mutant, free-floating emotional energy in an alien body, a Shi'ar legend) we can see the final legacy of Beak -- his grandson is the only straight up mutant left on the X-Men. The image of the team has another important detail -- Wolverine is wearing jeans, his old yellow top, a leather jacket and a cowboy hat, and Silvestri has drawn him with sultry female almond eyes: it is like some kind of weird parody of the fashion model stuff in the first issue.


Dante Kleinberg said...

Speaking of naming things, it's really apparent in Doom Patrol. I was reading the third trade this weekend and... Kaleidoscape? Anathematicians? It's so bizarre, clever, and funny, that it distracts from the random flim-flam nature of it.

It's sort of a new wave intellectual version of Stan Lee's old 60s writing, when the Submariner would use a telescope fish to see something far away or a TV fish to monitor what the FF was up to. Fun and meaningless.

david brothers said...

I always loved that Beak, the little mutant that couldn't, sired a he-man superhero like his grandson. It's another Morrison theme, growing into your potential and transforming into a hero, no matter your roots. Everyone can be radiant and there are no bad eggs (so to speak).

Another nice touch is with Tom, which you kind of mention here. His love triangle thing is classic young male behavior-- you get an old, beat-up car and you spend an entire summer fixing it up. You pour love and sweat into it and it's the best thing in the world... until you see that brand new model car on the road and your eyes start to wander. In the future, things really aren't that different, are they? Just larger in scale.

I enjoyed this arc quite a bit, in no small part due to Silvestri's art. I came into the X-Men when he and Jim Lee and Whilce Portacio were the it guys, so it was a nice bit of nostalgia.

You mentioned that the future looks a lot like the X-Men comics of the '90s-- I don't know if that was Morrison's idea or what, but having a former big-name X-Men artist come back to do a story about the far future is an interesting choice. People tend to think of comics as having moved on from the Image style, so this is almost a retro-future, in a way?

Off-topic-- I got my copy of Neptune Noir from Amazon today. I'll probably burn through it over this week!

Jason Powell said...

"here it is just too self-serious for drawing something like a mutant who has a magic flying car."

Silvestri seems to have narrowed his range over the years, which is kind of depressing. I posted to this blog months and months ago (I think at the start of the Grand New X-Men analysis) about how I was surprised that people didn't like his work. Since then I've paged through a lot of Silvestri's post-2000 comics and am kind of sad to see that it's become all tough guys and ridiculously proportioned/ridiculously dressed babes.

Those were always elements of his work, of course, but his work in the late '80s (his first X-Men run) had a sense of whimsy and adventure as well. His first run has got a lot of silly elements in it -- particularly during the "Inferno" crossover. I think that story was largely inspired by Ghostbusters -- at least, Claremont certainly drew liberally from that film. So you'd have Silvestri drawing sequences like a mailbox coming to life and eating a guy trying to mail a letter with insufficient postage. Or Benny-Hill-esque slapstick involving one X-babe crashing through a window and landing in the bed of another.

All fairly juvenile certainly, but still a far cry from "self-serious" (which does seem like the perfect description for modern-day Silvestri, just from what I saw skimming through the Here Comes Tomorrow trade).

Seems like such a shame. Based on his '80s work, I'd like to be able to say that Marc Silvestri is one of my favorite artists, but that's tough when a google-image search on the guy brings up dozens of drawings of Witchblade in a metal bikini.

Mitch said...

I just wanted to mention mention this since we're talking about naming things, even though I'm sure you smart folks already know-

In the second "Murder in the Mansion" issue, when Angel Salvator gives birth to Beak's kids she says she's going to "call them after the Jacksons"; in the future, Beak's grandson is named Tito.