Best Bits Edition: New X-Men
Travis Hedge Coke
Initially, I was going to piggyback on Ben’s recent Uncanny X-Men coverage, and see if we couldn’t just flood the Cube with mutants and potentially drive Duy to building two comedy robots and providing a running commentary. But, I can’t do what Ben does. I lack that kind of focus, that sort of oomph. I’m lazy.
So, I’m going to cover the Grant Morrison years in two parts, providing one great bit from the writing, one from the art, and one piece of trivia for each issue, and try to get some of you to plunk down the cash for the omnibus, or at least buy the first paperback, E is For Extinction.
Without further ado, New X-Men:
1. “e is for extinction” pt 1
Best Art Bit: Spilt blood is thick and bright red.
Best Writing Bit: “Sunspot activity, manic depressive mood swings; I feel like a Hindu sex god, Jean.”
Trivia: Those big spooky patterns that indicate psychic activity are visible and psychic condensation/ectoplasm!
2. “e is for extinction” pt 2
Best Art Bit: The skeletons being pumped into the Sentinel Master Mold along with inorganic scrap metal and plastics.
Best Writing Bit: The genocide in Genosha is accompanied by a countdown of remaining living residents.
Trivia: Boliver Trask invented the original Sentinels. This Sentinel factory is in Ecuador, liberated from Spain in part by Simón Bolívar.
3. “e is for extinction” pt 3
Best Art Bit: Jean levitates a Doop keychain and condom from her bed. Doop is love.
Best Writing Bit: “Get her to a hospital…”/“The kid’s dead.”/“So, bring her back to life, you imbecile.”
Trivia: “Negasonic Teenage Warhead” is a Monster Magnet song.
4. “The Man From Room X”
Best Art Bit: Wolverine and Domino diving for the giant pool from the nth floor of the hotel.
Best Writing Bit: The later reveal with Xorn is set up immediately and yet, it’s impossible to see it without knowing that it’s coming.
Trivia: Zorn is a German surname whose root-meaning is “wrath.” It’s shared by musician John Zorn and visual artist Anders Zorn.
5. “Danger Rooms”
Best Art Bit: Beaks’ Revolting Cocks t-shirt.
Best Writing Bit: Trish is almost trying to be nice about her Dear Johning Beast, but her wording is so mean, anyway.
Trivia: Wolverine is only short when he doesn’t need to kiss someone. Always.
6. “Germ Free Generation” pt 1
Best Art Bit: The word “sex” being drawn into every page at least once.
Best Writing Bit: Wolverine’s fist, rain dripping off his claws, is a great “you know what’s coming” shorthand.
Trivia: John Sublime’s dialogue and his and his people’s actions are rife with neuro-linguistic programming and Ericksonian techniques.
7. “Germ Free Generation” pt 2
Best Art Bit: Wolverine, chest full of shrapnel, calmly lifting his cigar and giving a lip-curling smile.
Best Writing Bit: Emma Frost’s nose job (and breast implants, etc). Not every mutant is born commercially sexy.
Trivia: “Martha’s a metal fan,” and Martha ends up working for Magneto soon.
8. “Germ Free Generation” pt 3
Best Art Bit: Jean looks quite out of her head in her big fiery Phoenix manifestation splash page.
Best Writing Bit: The U-Men think of Cebebro/Cerebra not as a mutant locating device, but an organ locator.
Trivia: Poo Bear, as the name of a beer, could be taken a few directions.
9. “Silence: Psychic Rescue in Process”
Best Art Bit: The page of Jean’s bridge being shot to bits is gorgeous!
Best Writing Bit: Wolverine reading and Cyclops with earbuds in, waiting while the women work.
Trivia: Morrison hyped this issue by promising Jean Grey submerged in semen and Emma choking on the letters p, n, e, i, and s.
Best Art Bit: Hank keeps spilling tea, as he’s getting used to not having fingers.
Best Writing Bit: Xorn flies a dead bird around to impress Cyclops, pretending it’s been resurrected.
Trivia: The Superguardians are a Legion of Superheroes riff, matching characters one for one.
Best Art Bit: The foliage. I’ve told Ethan Van Sciver before, I think he’s one of the best flower and hair artists of his generation in comics.
Best Writing Bit: One of the Stepford Cuckoos is in love with an alien cuckoo, a shapeshifter planted in their nest. Who’s also a robot who looks human.
Trivia: The Stepford Cuckoos' names, taken together as an acronym, spell SPICE.
Best Art Bit: The Cuckoos putting Superguardian Oracle on a psychic rollercoaster of despair.
Best Writing Bit: Twenty-plus page fistfight brawling!
Trivia: This whole issue is crammed with echoes of earlier X-Men comics.
Best Art Bit: The death/rebirth of Charles Xavier, with midwife Jean.
Best Writing Bit: Everyone’s snappy this issue. “Hey! It’s those pesky X-Men!”/“You were hopeless in bed.”/“I deserve pants as a basic human right.”
Trivia: This cover was cropped awkwardly when the issue was originally released.
Best Art Bit: The simulation-Jean in the program Emma and the Cuckoos cook up is dressed much more to Emma’s taste than Jean’s.
Best Writing Bit: Xorn saying he’s healing them and killing the machines in them (with his power of healing) versus what’s really going on.
Trivia: The map in the classroom program is a respresentation of the voting breakdown between Bob Dole and Bill Clinton’s presidential bids in 1996.
15. “of living and dying”
Best Art Bit: Xorn holding the injured horse. So beautifully Nietzsche.
Best Writing Bit: The conceit that the narration is simply what Xorn is writing in the diary and not real thoughts or a fair assessment of events is harrowing in retrospect.
Trivia: Xorn is undoubtedly killing that guy on the third to last page.
16. “New Worlds”
Best Art Bit: Fantomex’s introduction is brilliantly choreographed.
Best Writing Bit: The Multiple Man speculation, re harmonized singing and solo orgies.
Trivia: Fantomex’s name is derived from the fictional character Fantomas, and his looks is reminiscent of the Fantomas-derived Diabolik.
Best Art Bit: The go to work splash at the end of the issue and the gun-holstering in front of an Egyptian dog jackal god preceding it.
Best Writing Bit: Fantomex is acting all tough, removing bullets from his abdomen without anesthetic, but he has no internal nervous system and can’t feel any of it.
Trivia: Fantomex’s partner/girlfriend/ship/other half, EVA is likely both a reference to the love interest of Diabolik, Eva, and to the song E.V.A. by early electronica musician, Jean Jacques Perrey, who used to dress up like Fantomas.
18. “Weapon Twelve”
Best Art Bit: Wolverine, strapped to a table, tortured, screaming, all in oranges, in flashback.
Best Writing Bit: All the bullshit Fantomex says, just daring people to call him on it.
Trivia: Those milky bullets with faces on them were invented by Captain Britain’s father.
19. “Some Angels Falling”
Best Art Bit: Scott and Emma falling into bed with parachutes and goggles on.
Best Writing Bit: The simultaneous conversations between Beast and Emma, Emma and Scott, and Scott and Wolverine are paced and layered just right.
Trivia: Many X-fans were sure Morrison meant to revise Beast as gay with that storyline, and some are still convinced he was forced to downplay it as a prank (despite there never being anything more to it).
20. “Ambient Magnetic Fields”
Best Art Bit: The shots of Lorna making stuff magnetically are all so fluid & pretty!
Best Writing Bit: This issue works both as an earnest statement and as a condescending ruse.
Trivia: The band, The Magnetic Fields, has a song called “I Wish I Had An Evil Twin.”
Best Art Bit: Fantomex doing spooky hands and weird eyes at Wolverine, or Jean’s green Phoenix t-shirt.
Best Writing Bit: The total hypocrisy of Xavier brainwashing some terrorists into “never using violence to support ideologies.”
Trivia: This X-Corp team has some former mortal enemies working side by side, in addition to one member being a flat out murderer who clearly isn’t serving time for it.
22. “Kid Ω”
Best Art Bit: Herman’s eyeball’s swinging around in that transparent wax head of his.
Best Writing Bit: The exchanges between Beast and Officer Foster; they’re never entirely on the same page… or are they?
Trivia: The cockpit windows are tinting everything very Magneto colors while they discuss pattern recognition and supervillains.
23. “teaching children about fractals”
Best Art Bit: The sketches and notes floating around in the Headmaster’s Office.
Best Writing Bit: The Special Class, the X-Men, the Omega Gang, and the group of humans all play off one another nicely, member for member, dynamic for dynamic.
Trivia: No-Girl is Martha’s superhero name. Martha is already working with Magneto who is disguised here as Xorn and presumably still addicted to kick.
24. “When X is Not X”
Best Art Bit: Emma’s affair-face expressions when she and Scott are sharing a thought.
Best Writing Bit: The U-Men funeral is just hilariously goulish.
Trivia: Wolverine’s sudden soulpatch was editorial mandate and goes away shortly after this storyline.
New X-Men has an Omnibus, which you can buy here: