RSS Feed
May 25

The X-Axis – 25 May 2011

Posted on Wednesday, May 25, 2011 by Paul in x-axis

In which I finally get around to reviewing books that came out in America a week ago!  But I only got them on Monday afternoon, so there it is.  There’s an abundance of X-books this week (and frankly, I’m still working my way through the rest of last week’s comics), so I’m just going to run through them.  Believe me, it’ll be enough to keep us going.

Astonishing X-Men #38 – This is the first chapter of “Meanwhile”, one of Marvel’s more curious editorial decisions.  Astonishing X-Men now has two creative teams producing two different storylines simultaneously.  It’s going to alternate back and forth between the two arcs.  So last issue was Daniel Way and Jason Pearson’s Mentallo storyline, this issue is Christos Gage and Juan Bobillo starting their Brood arc, and next issue will be back to Way and Pearson.

This sort of thing isn’t completely unknown at Marvel – Hercules and Thunderbolts have both done similar things in the past by splitting up their cast.  But doing it with two seemingly unrelated storylines by two different writers is… certainly unusual.

There’s been a noticeable shift lately towards double-shipping the regular titles, rather than churning out low-selling spin-off books.  That makes a degree of sense, in as much as a second issue of Uncanny is presumably going to sell more than another miniseries.  But it does leave me wondering whether this arc has its roots in anything more than Marvel deciding they want extra issues of Astonishing X-Men, and the existing creative team politely telling them that it ain’t happening.

It certainly feels like filler.  SWORD have been experimenting on some captive Brood; it all goes wrong; Abigail Brand is in trouble; the Beast brings in the X-Men to try and rescue them.  From there, it’s “Brood on a space station” and you can probably figure out the rest for yourself.  Fair enough, it’s been a good few years since anyone’s done an X-Men story with the Brood, and there’s nothing wrong with dusting them off every so often to trot through their schtick for another generation of readers.

But that’s pretty much all it is; there’s no great twist, and there’s no apparent connection to anything happening in Way’s storyline.  It’s an ugly comic, too – I’ve enjoyed Juan Bobillo’s work in the past on books like She-Hulk, but it doesn’t suit a story which is trying to be tense and claustrophobic, and he seems to have take on some very clumsy tics which do his work no favours at all.

Generation Hope #7 – It turns out that the story about the new mutant in the Berlin hospital is a two-parter.  That’s very welcome; I’m glad to see the book throwing in some shorter stories, particularly as the opening arc seemed over-extended.  This story has a simple idea – there’s an unborn mutant baby with mind control powers, and he doesn’t want to come out – and two issues seems about right for it.  It’s a neat twist on the zombie horde, but the sequence with the team telepathically persuading the kid to be born is also well handled.  As well as providing a nice take on why each character thinks it’s worth living (or not), it pays off rather well with the ultimate explanation coming from Teon – who, of course, can’t actually articulate why it’s such a good idea, but is somehow convincing anyway.

So this works both as an anthology story and as a vehicle for the characters.  The downside, and the slight anticlimax, is that it turns out that the baby isn’t going to get its mutant powers back until puberty.  So while the book sets this up as a new mutant birth, and technically delivers, it doesn’t really go anywhere in the short term.  That could be an issue with the book’s direction – will it actually get to introduce the new mutant characters it needs?  Still, a good team story.

Namor: The First Mutant Annual #1 – Got to love the optimism of that “#1”, haven’t you?

“Escape From The Negative Zone” started strongly in the Uncanny X-Men Annual, which chose an interesting group of characters, played them off against one another, and had some interesting art as well.  But it’s been downhill from there, with Steve Rogers being shoe-horned into the story so that part 2 can appear in his annual, and the plot degenerating into “they fight some baddies from the Negative Zone, and then they escape”.  Despite this being notionally his own annual, poor Namor gets very little to do in this story other than go nuts on the thinnest of plot pretexts, and smash things up a bit.  If there’s a core to the story, it’s the idea of Scott learning to trust Hope and letting her play her part – but the regular books have already moved beyond that point.

It’s got art by Max Fiumara, which is sporadically interesting to look at, but that’s about all it’s got going for it.

Uncanny X-Force #10 – Technically “The Dark Angel Saga” starts in the next issue.  But in practice it starts here, since this issue sets up X-Force’s reason for visiting the Age of Apocalypse and the macguffin they’re going to be hunting for.

Perhaps more to the point, this is the issue where the subplot about Angel’s insanity comes to a head.   Amahl Farouk (who really should get around to buying a second suit) leaks evidence of X-Force to the press.  Naturally, they never get around to publishing it – that would destroy the premise of the series. But first, Archangel sets out to, uh, avert the PR problem his way.  Refreshingly, this doesn’t get drawn out too quickly; instead, he gets jumped by the rest of the team almost immediately.  Considering that last issue was a bit of a drawn-out misfire, it’s nice to see the pacing back on track here; most books would have stretched this amount of plot to several issues, but Rick Remender’s absolutely right to do it in one.

Yes, the storyline about Magneto discovering the team seems to have wandered off into the ether.  And yes, Billy Tan and Rich Elson’s art doesn’t always get the atmosphere it seems to be going for; a more consistent use of light and shadow wouldn’t go amiss.  But on the whole, pretty good.

Continuing Marvel’s programme of exposing new titles to a larger audience, the issue also includes a reprint of Iron Man 2.0 #3 – presumably chosen because it’s the issue where Jim Rhodes gets his new armour.  It is, however, also part 3 of an ongoing storyline, which opens with a five page silent sequence of unnamed characters looking at stuff – perhaps not the best choice of story for this purpose.  In fairness, it’s a smarter move than just running issue #1, which would be several months out of date, but if Marvel are going to keep doing this regularly, they might want to look at making sure that new titles launch with some shorter storylines that lend themselves better to the format.  They might also want to consider plugging the release date of the next issue.  Just saying.

X-23 #10 – X-23 and Gambit are in Paris… for some reason.  The recap page says they’re looking for something, but if they are, the story never gets around to dealing with it.  It reads more like X-23 is continuing her globetrotting phase – soon, she will have moped on all five continents.  Anyhow, the plot – such as it is – is that one of the documents X-23 picked up from Daken in the last storyline was a list of people she killed when she was an assassin.  And now she’s moping about that.  And that’s essentially it for the first half of the book.

This is a very mopey comic.  That’s not necessarily a bad thing; it kind of goes with the territory of the character, and Marjorie Liu has made a smart move introducing Gambit as a co-star to give the book some light and shade.  But even so, it is Very Mopey Indeed, and very light on plot.  Something finally happens about halfway through when Wolverine and Jubilee show up, thus allowing the book to revisit its favourite “nature vs nurture” theme with Jubilee vampirism.  That’s fairly standard.  But there’s also a more interesting conversation with Gambit and Wolverine, raising the question of quite why Wolverine didn’t take X-23 under his wing as a sidekick, as he did with Jubilee or Kitty before him.  To some extent, this seems to be Liu attempting to address an elephant in the room and explain what the hell X-23 was doing in X-Force in the first place – but it’s nice to see her trying to make sense of it in a way that works for the characters, instead of just brushing it aside.

All that said – there may be a couple of nice character ideas in here, but that doesn’t really alter the fact that there’s a hell of a lot of moping and almost no plot.

X-Factor #219 – From the look of it, this seems to be the final part of the storyline with the three assassins.  X-Factor demand explanations from J Jonah Jameson, Guido’s feeling surprisingly good in hospital, and everyone apart from Madrox goes after the baddies.  I kind of feel like the assassins’ story doesn’t go anywhere in particular; they have a half-formed angst subplot, but basically it feels like their role is to shunt Guido and Layla into position for the next story.  That’s a shame, because Ballistique had a strong debut issue and I was hoping for them to be more than just villains of the week.  Perhaps Peter David has more in mind for them, but it feels as though their side of the story doesn’t get fully developed here.

The main focus of this issue, though, is X-Factor (minus Madrox, who’d probably have tried to rein them in) going after the villains with a degree of casual vindictiveness that’s genuinely kind of uncomfortable, perhaps because it’s often underplayed.  It’s a good sequence, which manages to leave some doubt about how far we should be rooting for the characters, and provides some more great moments for Monet’s character.  Not one of the best issues of X-Factor, but it’s got some very good bits in there.

X-Men: Giant-Size #1 – It may be billed as a one-shot, but this is effectively X-Men #11.5, starting Chris Yost’s “First to Last” storyline which continues in X-Men #12.  And hey, everyone – it’s the Neo!  Remember the Neo?  No, probably not – but Yost’s not actually that interested in them either.  He needs them as cannon fodder to illustrate his own new characters.

Normally I’d deprecate this sort of thing, but sod it, it’s the Neo.  They were created by Chris Claremont during his abortive second run on Uncanny – in theory, they’re a hidden race who are to mutants what mutants are to humans.  That sounds like a good idea until you actually try to write it, at which point you end up with just another bunch of mutants, because there’s no way of making them distinct.  The Neo just didn’t work, and if this issue needs an obscure off-shoot of the human race to steamroller, hell, it’s the only use anyone’s got out of them in the last decade.

Yost is really interested in his new characters, the Evolutionaries – who seem to be a sort of cut-price Celestials.  Much of the issue is a flashback to their previously-unmentioned debut in the Silver Age – hence the 1960s X-Men on the cover.  And much of that flashback consists of the X-Men fighting the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants before the Evolutionaries show up.  (There’s also a Sentinel wandering around which nobody seems to have seen before.  It’s all a bit strange and leaves me wondering whether it’s meant to seem off.  You can never tell these days.)

The idea of the Evolutionaries is quite good, though.  They’re a bunch of murderous cosmic thingies whose objective is to make sure that mutants inherit the world as planned.  I like that idea; it’s a throwback to the idea of mutants as the next stage in evolution, which we’ve kind of lost sight of following M-Day.  And it’s got a good old-fashioned angle; the Evolutionaries are technically on the X-Men’s side, but they’re not the sort of help you’d want.  It’s a good introduction of the idea, and it works as the first part of a storyline.  Why it’s being marketed as a special issue in its own right… heaven only knows.

X-Men: Prelude to Schism #2 – So we’re moving… backwards in time…?  This is a series in which Scott Summers has conversations with major X-Men in reverse order?  At this point, I’m confused; Paul Jenkins is writing some decent enough character vignettes, but is this supposed to be building to something?  How?

This issue, Magneto talks about stuff, which is to say that he recaps the plot of that Testament miniseries from a couple of years ago and reminisces about his early encounters with the X-Men.  There is also a strained metaphor about magnets.  It restates some standard themes of the character, which is fine as far as it goes – but beyond that, so what?  I have absolutely no clue what this series is supposed to be achieving, why it’s supposed to make me care about “Schism”, or what the whole thing is for.  Perhaps it’ll make some sort of sense with hindsight, but if there’s a point to all this, it’s well hidden.

Bring on the comments

  1. kelvingreen says:

    poor Namor gets very little to do in this story other than go nuts on the thinnest of plot pretexts, and smash things up a bit
    In all fairness, that’s every Namor story since 1939.

  2. alex says:

    For some reason, I had a brain fart and was expecting today’s books.

  3. Tom says:

    Wouldn’t the .1 issues make for great content as a free back up?

  4. Mika says:

    I’m really enjoying X-23, despite the moping. Hell, probably because of the moping. It has a handle on the characters better than most, I guess. And I quite like the fact that it isn’t really about much, other than characters moping at each other.

  5. Andy says:

    Back in issue #10 of this X-Factor volume, Layla mentioned that she rarely ever knows anything about Guido. I wonder if (a) that is still a problem for her, and (b) if Layla’s current actions have something to do with that?

  6. Dave says:

    Have I missed something about how Layla still ‘knows stuff’? Her adult self gave her child self an infodump, so now she’s at (just past) that adult age and has done the infodump, shouldn’t she have no further advance knowledge?

  7. Andy says:

    Layla’s knowledge wasn’t necessarily limited to what she had personally experienced prior to the infodump. She could have researched some larger events while she was in the future. And her present, post-infodump self could arrange to store personal memories somewhere for her past, pre-infodump self to find (in the future). Confused yet? Yes, it’s a lot of closed timelike curve shenanigans, but so was the infodump in the first place.

    While none of the mechanics have been discussed on-panel, Layla has definitely continued to “know stuff” since issue 200, such as the conversation she and Longshot had in issues 200-201.

  8. lambnesio says:

    Peter David has basically said in interviews that he may never reveal exactly how Layla Miller “knows stuff.”

  9. moose n squirrel says:

    there’s an unborn mutant baby with mind control powers, and he doesn’t want to come out

    Wasn’t this the story with Haven, the X-Factor villain from J.M. DeMatteis’s run?

    Between Prelude to Schism, X-Men Legacy, and last month’s “Wolverine kills a random geriatric Nazi” issue of X-Force, they sure have been laying on the Holocaust stuff with Magneto, haven’t they? Nothing that’s been done with the character post-Morrison has convinced me that Magneto ever needed to be resurrected.

    Peter David isn’t going to “reveal” exactly how Layla Miller “knows stuff” because Peter David’s making it up as he goes along. That’s fine, as far as it goes, as long as what he makes up remains relatively internally consistent – but I stopped paying attention a while ago, and I’m not sure that it does anymore.

  10. errant says:

    Magneto had to be resurrected, just so that he wouldn’t go down as the complete abomination of a character that Morrisson turned him into.

    Otherwise, yeah, there hasn’t been much point. Potential, sure. But it’s always been railroaded by stupid shit like House of M or the interesting moments don’t get followed up on.

  11. Jacob says:

    Don’t you mean the complete monster of a character that SUBLIME turned him into?

    I’m not a total Morrison apologist but too many people neglect that Magneto was being controlled by Sublime when he was crazy evil. Before that he was shown to be a better teacher than Prof X through his tutoring the special class. Throw in Kid Omegas use of Magneto as more effective as symbol than person and yeah good final arc for Magneto.

  12. Valhallahan says:

    I thought Astonishing was meant to be big name creators doing big, accessible stories. Christos Gage and Juan Bobillo? Not exactly A list. Also I hate Brood stories, I’m sick of them in the Claremont 80s books I’m reading in collections and that was when they were new, so I’ll be skipping that.

    I was going to get Schism, but I can’t bear Jenkins, so I’ve skipped that too. Guess I wont be getting back into current X Men this year then.

    God that was all a bit negative.

  13. Jack says:

    I thought Magneto killed the Neo in the “Eve of Destruction” lead-ins (UXM #391 or there abouts). He let Domina live, but we never saw her again after that (though, in typical Lobdell fashion, “Eve of Destruction” had soem really strong build-up but turned out to be utterly terrible).

  14. errant says:

    I suppose you can blame it on Sublime, if you like. But I don’t remember that being referenced in the story itself. He was just a drug-addicted tyrant. And if that follow-up story in “Here Comes Tomorrow” was supposed to explain it, I’ve read much more coherent stories. And really, Sublime wasn’t much to speak of as a character/concept either, now that I think about it.

    I don’t hate Morrisson or his run on X-Men. But to me, it just turned out to be a lot of big ideas that either fell flat or were incomprehensible in their execution. Granted some of that had to do with the art, but the words the characters were speaking didn’t always make sense either.

  15. Adam says:

    It’s only with this latest issue of UNCANNY X-FORCE that I realize Esad Ribic’s gone for good from the title (despite the recent announcement about his joining Hickman on ULTIMATES, it just didn’t click) and Tan’s in.

    Highly questionable business strategy to cannibalize the working parts of an all-too-rare success like UNCANNY X-FORCE in order to take yet another stab at relaunching a clearly dying brand like the ULTIMATE line.

  16. Adam says:

    That said – and lest I start reading to myself like another of those vats of scorn that seemingly buy comics just to complain about them – UNCANNY X-FORCE 10 is just about back on track here. Billy Tan isn’t a bad replacement either. And while using a story point advertised months in advance as a cliffhanger is thoughtlessness on the writer’s part and a real pet peeve of mine, I’m genuinely excited about the Age of Apocalypse storyline.

    OK… that was only about half-negative. It’ll do.

  17. Is Billy Tan the one that did Fall & Rise of The Shi’Ar Empire with Brubaker, or the Tan that was on Uncanny with Austen for a while?

  18. TECHASPiKE says:

    Billy did Fall & Rise. Phillip Tan worked with Austen ^_^

  19. Michael P says:

    “Normally I’d deprecate this sort of thing, but sod it, it’s the Neo.”

    Sums up my feelings entirely.

  20. Jon Dubya says:

    Normally, I love these reviews, but this week’s batch felt a bit…off. Here are three examples:

    1) The Brood has appered recently. In that very referenced title. Like two arcs ago (Astonishing X-Men 31-35). Even with the delay, that’s still a bit to soon to be bring back the Brood. The same with SWORD (I mean wasn’t there a big whoop-de-do about Beast severing his ties with the X-Men and becoming an Avenger. And since Brand’s link to the team was basically Beast, it seems weird that she’d call them and not the Avengers. She and Cyclops are far from “allies”).

    2) Weren’t the Neo ALREADY killed off just before Morrison took over the books? Or are they going to become this generations “Morlocks.”

    3) Maybe her series has it’s own explaination, but I thought it was pretty obvious why X-23 was included into X-Force (Cyclops wanted trackers and killers. X-23 fits both so she’s in.) Calling it an “elephant in the room” is a bit of a mischaracterization. As for Logan’s relationship with Laura, I think it’s because Laura, to quote a famous and brilliant philosopher, Is “…not that innocent” compared to Kitty and Jubilee as teens. However Logan HAS tried to bond with and protec her (and running theme in X-Force was that Wolverine DIDN’T want X-23 on the team, and HE’S the one who finally kicked her out remember?)

  21. The original Matt says:

    “I suppose you can blame it on Sublime, if you like. But I don’t remember that being referenced in the story itself.”

    Magneto was high on kick. Kick was revealed to actually be Sublime.

  22. moose n squirrel says:

    Wolverine explicitly states in Morrison’s final arc that Magneto was being controlled by Sublime.

    I really, really would rather have Magneto stayed dead with Planet X. He’s always been better as a villain, and neutered-to-useless in the quasi-hero role he’s been slotted into since then, and Morrison did just about the last few things you could do with the character – explored him as a symbol, as a failed revolutionary, as someone – along with Xavier – that the younger generations of mutants had outgrown. His resurrection only made sense in the context of the incredibly conservative tone the X-books took post-Morrison – afraid to take risks or explore new narratives, diving into the rut of M-day and staying there for nearly a decade.

    I literally rolled my eyes at the most recent issue of Legacy. Hooking up with Rogue again? Really? Are these plots being auto-generated, now?

  23. NostalgiaFromHome says:

    You know somethings gone wrong when the Brood are used in 6 out of the last 8 issues of your series and people have trouble remembering.

  24. Mika says:

    I always thought Magneto was a terrible villain. His silver-age meglomania was fine for the time, but Claremont’s gradual reformation of the character through his original run was the best thing that’s ever been done with the character. Making him a villian again in the nineties was the mistake for me.

  25. Maxwell's Hammer says:

    I don’t know, I kind of like the new Magneto: the noble warrior brought down and humbled by the realization that his philosophy was untenable, offering himself up with great humility to serve the acknowledged leader, Scott.

    Kierren Gillen’s .1 issue of Uncanny was a really good spotlight on how the character can be written well…

  26. moose n squirrel says:

    Where do you go with Magneto once he’s “reformed,” though? Even Claremont didn’t keep him running the school, teaching the New Mutants and generally acting like a slightly-more-surly Xavier; eventually he had him acting out, joining the Hellfire Club, getting ready for the race war and so on. Scott Lobdell similarly got bored of Good Magneto when Joseph was trotted out in the nineties, and it’s not hard to see why – when Magneto goes “good,” you strip away everything that works about the character.

    The interesting thing about Magneto is that he’s a villain who might nevertheless have a point. When he “reforms,” you throw that away, because he’s no longer a villain, and he’s conceding his point by joining up with Xavier’s cause. So what purpose does he serve? Apparently, his only function now is to serve as one of the points in a fairly tired love triangle between Rogue and Gambit. It’s a testament to how devoid of meaning the X-books have become that one of their most thematically resonant characters has been reduced to a stock soap opera figure.

  27. By the way, Paul, congrats on getting a lot of talk stirring around here of late. You ever thought of opening a small forum on here for people to talk about individual titles in confined discussions?

  28. The original Matt says:

    I like the forum idea.

    Onto Magneto…

    I really think that anyone who didn’t like Magneto’s portrayal under Morrison really missed the point of that story. Or I missed the point of it and came away with something that worked for me.

    Magneto, when “dead”, was given a huge stock in young people who want to change the world. Really, how many 16 year olds didn’t sit around blaming a corrupt government system while listening to rebellious music. That’s just kind of what you do at that age.

    That’s fine, we all dream of a better world. And it’s easy to blame those in power for why the real world doesn’t match up to our imaginary world. You don’t really think much about viable economics or anything of the such when you’re 16 and rebellious. It’s just the government, man!! Did you know that they have nuclear weapons and smoke pot?? And then there’s narcs, man. The narcs… Yeah.

    Morrison plays these riffs beautifully. “Magneto was right” tshirts. I love it. And a mutant band called “Sentinel Bait” was great, too. It gives you the feeling of a rebellious undertone. It gets given the most screentime during the Riot at Xavier’s. Charles himself became the mutant communities equivalent of the government. When rebellious young mutants wanted authority to kick against, who did they go to? The actual government? Yeah, sure. Why wouldn’t they. But Charles, too.

    “Mutants are dying in the streets and you want us to hold hands and play nice with the humans? Fuck you, man!! Just as bad as the narcs!!”

    Drugs use was also thrown into this story. And the mutant that died in the streets didn’t die because of the humans. So the rebellious teenagers were just kicking at authority cause that’s what rebellious teenagers do.

    The shadow of Magneto hangs over that story line. Magneto was right.

    Then Magneto comes back. Makes his giant play and it all comes crashing down. He’s not in charge, he’s fooling himself. He’s out of touch. “They don’t understand it when you go on with all that Shakespeare stuff”.

    He can’t back down now. He’s so close to winning. He can’t just turn around and go “Hey, you know what, I may not have all the answers afterall” so he end up doing the only thing he knows how to do. Being more arrogant, displaying more power. This leads him to devolve to silver age villany. Not to mention he’s all messed up on drugs to get the power boosts he needs.

    So the story gave a total break down of Magneto as a character. When posing as Xorn and being nice, the kids listened to him. Then he did his Magneto stuff, and everyone thought he was a looney toon.

    Magneto, as a character, was dissected over the course of the Morrison run. The result of which took him full circle, and left him broken. Perfect time to kill him off.

  29. Maxwell's Hammer says:

    I totally agree with Matt’s assessment of how beautifully Morrison deconstructed Magneto, then killed him off.

    But since his return was a given (complain all you want, but it was going to happen), I think the new direction is one that could potentially work. And I don’t see the new direction as a neutered bad guy who decided to be a good guy. He’s an elder stateman of the Mutant Cause who is a great weapon for Scott to have at his disposal, but he’s also a liability because of his past. Nobody, neither the public nor the other mutants, know if they can trust him. And while he hasn’t exactly been flirting with villainy since his return, there is a sense of him still looking down his nose at everyone, while swallowing his pride and trying to contribute.

    It’s not classic Magneto, or the brilliant interpretation of Morrison’s, but its the beginning of a new and interesting take on a character that’s been around forever, and will always be around.

  30. Baines says:

    I think original Matt has a good grasp of what Morrison was doing, only leaving out Sublime. While Sublime is a big issue, its absence doesn’t change what Morrison was showing with Magneto.

    Sublime is an agitator. It tries to curb humanity’s rate of advancement by stirring conflict and causing wars. In Morrison’s run, Sublime’s ultimate goal is war between mutants and humans, and Magneto is its prime tool.

    If Sublime is the excuse for Magneto’s actions, then why do I say that Sublime doesn’t matter in regards to what Morrison was showing with Magneto? The reason is that we don’t know how much influence Sublime had over Magneto. Was it a thorn, pricking at his actions, edging him onwards only slightly? Or was it a more direct actor, responsible for nearly everything Magneto did? Or was it a middle ground?

    Unlike with Sublime-Beast, we the readers aren’t told. The story as told works for being purely the actions of Magneto. He acts, things begin to crumble, and he becomes a twisted version of his own oppressors. That is how Sublime can act as the safety net, or character-recovery net, for Magneto, while at the same time not negating the idea that it really could have been Magneto.

    The trickiest thing is that in doing it this way, Morrison left the whole range open to Magneto. Morrison honestly negates nothing of Magneto’s past characterizations, while encompassing all of them and even expanding them. The next writer could have come along and said that Magneto was a reformed saint who was shoved off a cliff by a mind-controlling enemy, or could have said that Magneto was the devil himself. Unfortunately, the people in charge at Marvel didn’t seem to catch on to what Morrison was doing, and only saw the latter.

    In a way, Sublime is like the Dark Phoenix retcon, except built into the story from the beginning. With Dark Phoenix, we saw Jean Grey obtain god-like power and become corrupted. We saw the outcome. Then we had Marvel redeem her character by saying “It wasn’t really Jean. It was an exact double of Jean.”, and sweeping under the rug that it really could have been Jean (particularly in this case, where it really was Jean up until the retcon). If Jean obtained god-like power, then she could be corrupted into a casual destroyer of planets.

  31. The original Matt says:

    I don’t think Sublime was ever “controlling” Magneto in that sense. Magneto was on kick to boost his power levels which made him go a bit nuts. Throughout the course of the Planet X arc he slowly loses his grasp on reality. Kick was more just an excuse to make him devolve to silver age villany within the story.

    The overall plan was Magneto’s. He bit off more than he could chew and it fell apart around him. Because he is on Kick he is losing control of himself, not to mention the situation. The story itself was about teenage rebellion wish fullfillment of “overthrow the system”,how it doesn’t actually work like that and a character study of Magneto, Charles, and how their approaches to the “mutant agenda” (and in turn, the X-men series in itself) is old and out-of-date.

    It’s not really stated when Magneto starts taking kick. Was he on it the whole time he was Xorn, or did he just start taking it after the mansion attack? I do believe that is purposely left a grey area so that there was a bit of a back door. Of course, they ignored that back door and instead said it was really Xorn all along or something. I don’t know, I didn’t read any of the retconning. (One of the excalibur series did that, didn’t it?)

    (Bare in mind it has been a while since I’ve read this arc and I could be forgetting a few details.)

  32. Jeff says:

    >> Of course, they ignored that back door and instead said it was really Xorn all along or something. I don’t know, I didn’t read any of the retconning. (One of the excalibur series did that, didn’t it?)

    As far as I remember, (a) the X-Men discovered Xorn’s brother, brought him back to the mansion and forgot about him right away and (b) stated than it was an impostor and not Magneto at New-York.

    They never got beyond that.

    (a) was in Austen’s X-Men and (b) in Excalibur.

    I’d have been simpler if they kept Magneto responsible for its actions in New-York and explain its return in Excalibur as Scarlet Witch bringing back her father (a) to live and (b) to a previous, less extreme, mindset.

    It would have opened some doors, overused as they might be, with Magneto aware of how far he can get and how much he could became the very fear he hates.

    Still better than what happened.

  33. errant says:

    I agree that what Morrisson did with Magneto, for *most* of his run was brilliant. Making him more influential among the younger generation in death than he ever was in life was great. I even loved the reveal that he was Xorn all along when it happened. It’s what immediately followed that brought the whole thing down. Sublime/Kick or not, Morrisson could have used a lighter touch with the characterization and still done what he wanted with the character without turning him into a charicature of his 1960’s self. And he could have done it. His entire run was filled with a lot of vague, small moments that aren’t explicitly elaborated on to move the characters in subtle ways in the directions he wanted them and the book to go, yet with Magneto, he takes the sledgehammer approach, not only with the plotting, but in the destruction of everything that made Magneto interesting for the previous 20 years.

    I also found it amusing that at the time, everyone was criticizing Claremont for making every arc about mind control, yet almost every one of Morrisson’s turned out to be a variation on it as well.

    When it all comes down to it, I just found that Planet X (and even moreso, Here Comes Tomorrow) to be very unsatisfying final chapters in Morrisson’s run, which otherwise could have gone down as one of the greatest on the books ever. It did obviously go down that way for some people, but I found those last two stories to be alternately lazy and rushed or near incomprehensible. It became even more incomprehensible when he left the books as Marvel quickly tried to reverse most of the final outcomes, but you can’t really blame them for being confused. And the fact that Morrisson was intentionally handing in scripts late to avoid editorial interference. Had he worked more within the system, someone might have said “Hey, buddy, we like what you’re doing here, but can we maybe get to the same end result by doing it THIS way, instead of completely trashing one of the greatest characters that our offices have ever produced?” But he wasn’t intersested in that. He even said in interviews that he didn’t care for the noble Magneto with depth, and wanted to re-set him back to the megalomaniac cackle and shackle villain of the Silver Age. And understandably Marvel could never have let that stand if any writer wanted to use the interesting Magneto that almost everyone except Grant Morrisson and John Byrne preferred after he’d slaughtered a good chunk of New York. They could have sat down and plotted out a plan of action to reverse this, but they fumbled it, letting two writers of two different books jump on it immediately and winding up with a poor and unsatisfying explanation to reverse a poor and unsatisfying character assassination.

    I always thought they should have revealed Xorneto was Exodus (we’d already seen him posing as Magneto not too long before Morrisson, in an issue of X-Men Unlimited or and annual or something), instead of bringing in a brother of Xorn or what have you.

  34. Paul says:

    As I recall, one reason why so much of Morrison’s run was reversed immediately after he left was because he hadn’t actually bothered to tell anyone that he was blowing up the mansion and killing Magneto. If those points had been allowed to stand then it would have derailed almost every other writer’s plans. I vaguely recall Chris Claremont saying something to the effect that since the reversal of Magneto’s death was always going to be awful, they might as well bite the bullet and get it out of the way.

  35. Armagon says:

    I think errant hit it on the head. Morrison said in interviews that he wanted to show that Magneto was a murderous megalomaniac no better than (or even worse than) the Nazis he was treated by as a child. It was a sledgehammer approach to a nuanced character and I think it made a very poor ending for an otherwise great run on the X-books.

  36. Daibhid Ceannaideach says:

    The trouble with the idea that Morrison could have taken a lighter touch with the Magneto story is that if he had done, the chances are it would still have been reversed, only less because later writers hated it than because they hadn’t noticed it.

    He didn’t overegg the idea that Ernst was actually Cassandra, and the result was that subsequent writers were completely unaware such an idea even existed.

  37. moose n squirrel says:

    The Magneto-as-Nazi part of Planet X was probably the best thing about that storyline. Atrocities beget other atrocities; victims go on to create other victims, often citing their own victimhood along the way.

  38. errant says:

    “The Magneto-as-Nazi part of Planet X was probably the best thing about that storyline. Atrocities beget other atrocities; victims go on to create other victims, often citing their own victimhood along the way.”

    Right, but we’d already read that story. And moved beyond it.

  39. The original Matt says:

    That’s not what that story was about, though. It was a story about how to change the world, you have to change peoples way of thinking, and it takes time. You can’t just blow shit up and start over.

  40. kelvingreen says:

    Of course, they ignored that back door and instead said it was really Xorn all along or something. I don’t know, I didn’t read any of the retconning. (One of the excalibur series did that, didn’t it?)

    And New Avengers, because that was clearly the right place for it.

  41. ampeg v4 says:

    Hi, this is a great blog!

  42. Ora Exacta says:

    I like the valuable information you provide to your articles.
    I will bookmark your blog and take a look at once more here regularly.
    I’m slightly certain I’ll learn lots of new stuff
    right here! Best of luck for the next!

  43. Hi. Can i Share House to Astonish The X-Axis to my Facebook page?

Leave a Reply