Thursday, August 23, 2007

Joss Whedon's Astonishing X-Men 12 (Part Two of Two)

[This post is part of an issue by issue look at Joss Whedon's Astonishing X-Men run. For more of the same, click the Astonishing X-Men tag at the bottom of this post.]

Finally we come to the last page, the return of the Hellfire club that has been whispering in Emma's head the whole time -- a Hellfire Club that includes Casandra Nova. Emma of course comes from the Hellfire Club, so this is a great choice; it is amazing Morrison never invoked them in any serious way. But to put Morrison's Nova in the club is beyond brilliant. Here Nova appears on Genosha with the super-sentinel -- we are fully drawing on Morrison's first arc. It never occurred to me Whedon would draw on Morrison so directly. Ironically drawing on a predecessor character feels fresh, because I did not know it was in the options box. Whedon's anxiety of influence revisonary swerve is amazingly successful: He will not have to stand against Morrison so starkly if he offers himself up as a continuation of what Morrison began.

If I was talking about the relationship between New X-Men and Astonishing X-Men in How to Read Superhero Comics and Why, I would have quoted Bloom's fifth revisionary ratio, Askesis: "The later poet does not, as in Kenosis, undergo a revisionary movement of emptying, but of curtailing; he yields up part of his own human and imaginative endowment, so as to separate himself from others, including the precursor, and he does this in his poem by so stationing it in regard to the parent-poem as to make that poem undergo and askesis too; the precursor's endowment is also truncated."

But you probably get the idea. A Morrison run separate from the Whedon run demands comparison, and Whedon will lose, just from lack of scope. But if Whedon continues Morrison then his run is a part of a new whole. That means that Whedon's run does not stand on its own, but it does gain power from the connection; and Morrison's run is now retroactively figured as part of Whedon's, the necessary "prologue."

Cassaday repeat background watch: Here and there, but the art is top-notch in this issue.


Stephen said...

Great post, well said.

I don't feel up to your Bloomian theoretics right at the moment, so take the following as preliminary, but I'm wondering if part of this dynamic also has to do with referencing Morrison rather that Claremont. From everything I've seen, the anxiety of influence in the X-Men has been so specific, indeed monotonous, since Claremont's run -- all about recapturing the Claremont days, redoing Claremont's stories, etc -- that even in borrowing from Claremont (Hellfire club), to borrow from Morrison *too* makes it feel fresh.

Not Ultros said...

Dear Dr. Klock,

Do you think that Whedon is being at all ironic with his re-introduction of the Hellfire Club. Shaw's comment seems especially silly considering that he's the only character (besides Emma) of the original Club to still be there? Isn't the whole point of the Hellfire Club that it exists solely to be dated? That Claremont and Lee couldn't save it by making it eat itself with Shinobi Shaw (the first boss in the X-Men cartridge on game gear, but otherwise a completely unforgettable villain, methinks) going to war with his father and that Morrison couldn't save it by turning it into a strip club? Morrison makes the intro for that issue an ironic reference to Jean's "Dark Queen" stage (a psychic stripper that Scott can't be bothered to project fantasies on to) and Whedon makes the "big twist" of this arc Emma defaulting, sort of, to her own bad girl status. This is both the Hellfire Club, a traditionally male-group, and supervillains as a whole thrown through the ringer. Exceptional stuff.

Kudos also for turning Negasonic Teenage Warhead from a three-panel Morrison joke to a legitimate threat. And a cute one, non?

Geoff Klock said...

S: I need to read more claremont. I do not know why I don't. It screws me up bad with X-Men, which I love.

NU: There is irony but not the kind you are thinking of, I think. Whedon's Hellfire does almost literally disapear in a puff of smoke at the end.