Sunday, May 22, 2011

No More Morrison!

Spoilers. Right there. On the cover.
License to reveal plot details!
Finally (I can say that, right?) I can put the review of New X-Men to rest with this week's review of New X-Men Ultimate Collection Volume 3. Grant Morrison's most notorious abuse of the X-Men comes packaged in this 336 page tome along with a couple other howlers, Morrison's X-Men Manifesto (ie his plan to make X-Men worth reading). Amazon, amazingly, cannot sell this to you directly. Amazon resellers want at least $45 US for a pre-loved copy, and $65 US for a new copy. Interestingly those numbers line up brilliantly with the rough total of the three story-arc collections in this volume (Assault on Weapon Plus, Planet X, Here Comes Tomorrow). The disturbing part of that is the idea that Planet X is the most expensive of the individual trades.

Assault on Weapon Plus:
Would have been better with more of this.
This time Grant Morrison teams up with Chris Bachalo (barf), Phil Jimenez (solid), and Marc Silvestri (always been a personal favourite). The plot picks up right where we left off last week: Scott's walked out on the X-Men, Jean is pissed at Scott, Emma's, well, Emma, and the rest of the team are dealing with the idea that there's a traitor in their midst (again, the cover gives it all away). Unfortunately the first arc also deals with Weapon Plus, which means Wolverine. Which means Fantomex. Which means the worst idea ever: The World. The World could have/should have been awesome. It should have been the polar opposite of the Savage Land (although the Savage Land also has wacky evolution device nonsense going on). Instead it's a rubbish time warp organic machine waste of time. And it's illustrated by Bachalo. Again, it's a set-up story that tries to have a cool idea to wrap around, but instead of gripping tight to that slender beam of hope, it falls off and lands in a limp little puddle.
Oh... so that was the spoiler from the cover!
The second Arc is infamous as the MAGNETO IS XORN arc. Rapidly retconned by Marvel to avoid having Xorn no longer usable, and to make sure Magneto wasn't a man that murdered millions of New Yorkers one sunny afternoon in 2004 (I have no idea why they wanted more Xorn, or why Magneto as the ultimate terrorist was a bad thing), this arc is the real payoff of everything on Morrison's run. Jean finally Phoenixes out to save Wolvie (who has to kill her first), and then the world, the loser brigade that includes Beak and Angel finally achieve something momentous, we drop another Cuckoo, and Wolvie guts Magneto (which begs all manner of questions considering what Mags has done to Wolvie in the past). Oh, and, before we flash forward into the future for the start of the final story arc, Jean kicks the bucket again. Nice.
Quire Phoenix. Blerrrg!
Here Comes Tomorrow is the boring story of what would have happened if Scott and Emma did not become a couple after Jean's funeral. In essence John Sublime is revealed as an ancient power that has participated in forcing evolution to progress, and has taken over Beast (revealing the true nature of  Kick). Beast in turn is out for final world domination as a master genengineer (like Sinister would like to have been in Age of Apocalypse), and mutant kind is the dominant species (some how that never works out for the mutants). For Beast/Sublime to cement his victory, they need the Phoenix Egg that formed after Jean's death at the end of Planet X. Though the X-Men are forced to assault Beast (and fail) Jean saves the day as Phoenix by fiddling with the time-stream to have Scott and Emma become a couple. Because that's not creepy or weird. At all.

So what are the real flaws here: Chris Bachalo get's a special nod as the worst artist of Morrison's run on New X-Men, Assault on Weapon Plus is the arc that adds the least to the story (just closely beating Here Comes Tomorrow which established Scott and Emma as the couple they have been for years), and Planet X is revered by the students of St. Something-that-should-not-have-happened's (although personally I like the idea that Magneto is that insidious I don't buy the entire campus being that idiotic). I wish there was something truly defensible in this volume, but there's not. The first volume was comparatively great, and the second volume (while largely filler) introduced some new concepts. This basically tore down all the good that had happened, if not directly, then by Marvel's immediate over-reaction (which shows an considerable lack of faith in your writers, and really confused the matter of who Xorn was).

Would I recommend you buy this? For the price it's running nowadays? heavens no! Would I recommend you get Assault on Weapon Plus and Here Comes Tomorrow in trades? Not really, they aren't great individual stories, and you miss Planet X. Would I recommend you get Planet X? Yes. Absolutely. But not for $25 US. Given everything I'e said that may sound weird, but the truth is that Planet X is comparable to the highly implausible and ultimately unsuccessful robberies in Hollywood movies: it looks common sense (or continuity) in the eye and says "to hell with you, this is what I want to do, and if you end up winning so be it". Which is really the Grant Morrison Trademark. It pisses a lot of people off to see their toys put back in the box worse for wear, but in all honesty I find it preferable to resetting the status quo as though nothing happened.

And with New X-Men done and dusted next week I switch to one of my all time favourite manga series, and to one of my favourite slices in it.
Number of times read: Over NINE THOUSAAAND!


  1. I thought this stuff was so bad that I can actually remember just thumbing through issues rather than reading them. The only good thing Morrison contributed was that Weapon X was actually Weapon 10

  2. Except that there was no need to do that to Weapon X, as Weapon X already had lots of characters produced during its various iterations.

    And Morrison hinted that We3 was part of Weapon Plus, so there's that too.