Best Bits Edition: New X-Men
Travis Hedge Coke
The other half of Grant Morrison’s X-Men run (see the first one here), from the school riot to the use of a busted up Sentinel with no vocabulary used as a metaphor for Jean Grey. New X-Men was a weird run, and not “oooh, it’s weird, there’s a guy with too many fingers and time that can be paused” weird. This is an X-Men comic. That’s easy reader hour. New X-Men was weird, for me, because I could see Morrison essentially teaching himself the focus points of X-Men, the marketing points, while doing a mash-up/remix of everything else X he could get his hands on, suffused with a bunch of painting and music allusions, titles, and riffs. That, and seeing my long-standing theory that the green, glowing hand of glory in The Invisibles was a Monster Magnet reference came roaring back when a minor mutant called herself after one of their songs.
This was, on one level, the most commercially-minded pop-driven audience-grabbing X-Men run in a long time, and since, but on the flipside, it’s what Morrison seems to consider pop-driven and audience-grabbing, which means it has huge sales but the folks who are turned off are pretty much turned off wholly. And, as the pitch documents the omnibus reprints show, Morrison and Marvel were sure the angrier diehards would buy the book anyway.
25. “Riot At Xavier’s”
Best Art Bit: The stone slabs of the stairs directing the reader right into Quentin’s beady-eyed, bleeding face.
Best Writing Bit: Emma’s “And then what?” More superhero comics should ask that. (Civil ahem War.)
Trivia: The recurring elements in the delusion-trap Quentin puts Wolverine in is prefigured in Xavier’s Headmaster’s Office.
26. “The Prime of Miss Emma Frost”
Best Art Bit: The rare sexy Scott Summers in the final pages
Best Writing Bit: That wonderful title riffing on the beautiful The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (and its excellent theme song, buoying along the music theme of New X-Men)
Trivia: Quentin’s talking about Sublime while he’s dying (and then murdered by Xorn/Magneto, because he’s dying too slow).
Best Art Bit: Scott looks so panicked, in the flashback, and Emma sooo giddy and sharkish.
Best Writing Bit: As horrible as Jean seems to be, here, she’s probably helping Emma more than hurting. The woman, Jean, wants to hurt her, but the Phoenix doesn’t do that.
Trivia: There are King Lear and Beauty and the Beast shoutouts. And, Beast sings a bit of Orfeo ed Euridice.
28. “Murder at the Mansion”
Best Art Bit: The page where Emma’s falling through Beast’s fingers.
Best Writing Bit: The tonal shift to murder mystery is cool, but not as cool as “Professor Sex in the toilet, with the lawnmower – that’s whodunit!”
Trivia: Probably my favorite issue of New X-Men.
Best Art Bit: Full page splash of Angel with her babies!
Best Writing Bit: “Look a the wingspan of this guy!” – Barnell on one of his new babies.
Trivia: Why doesn’t Emma Frost get steered around after huffing kick, like so many? The Phoenix purified her over the last two issues, and things like that burn at the touch of the Phoenix’s wing.
30. “Brimstone & Whisky”
Best Art Bit: The look on Wolverine’s face when he catches Sabretooth eyeing him out at the urinals.
Best Writing Bit: Fantomex flirting with Cyclops.
Trivia: Despite the inference, Sebastian Shaw doesn’t have any telepathic powers. The room is full of psychics on his payroll, though, so it’s not an empty threat.
31. “The World”
Best Art Bit: Two-page spread of Wolverine jumping at an AIM terrorist who’s putting fist-sized holes in his torso.
Best Writing Bit: Fantomex can’t stop shit-talking or he’ll die. (Or, more realistically, just get bored.)
Trivia: This issue folds the Sentinels into the Weapon X concept. It’s all about building better-looking machines for hurting mutants.
32. “The Flesh”
Best Art Bit: Weapon XV breaking out of The World and into the night.
Best Writing Bit: Old man Wolverine pointing out that T-Rexes are old, but would you want to face off against one?
Trivia: This story could have featured Gambit, after the death of Rogue!
33. “The Devil”
Best Art Bit: Wolverine’s face on the second to last panel. He’s trying hard not to laugh!
Best Writing Bit: All the Weapon Plus/X revelations in this issue make sense, but they’re also entirely suspect, since the whole satellite is a trap.
Trivia: Fantomex and the other newer “Weapons,” were meant to be a Justice League riff of a superteam. (Unless that’s part of the trap, too.)
34. “Planet X”
Best Art Bit: Jean’s spacewalk/flight from her ship to the satellite.
Best Writing Bit: Xorn is Magneto!
Trivia: “Planet X” is a recurring phrase in Grant Morrison comics.
35. “Magneto Superior”
Best Art Bit: The spread of the new Brotherhood & all their different emotions/headspaces.
Best Writing Bit: “The sentimental message I left mankind upon my ‘death’ was actually a virus designed to cripple all electromagnetic technology!”
Trivia: This is not the first time Magneto has used outside sources to enhance his powers. He’s used other mutants and machinery before. This is the first time he used a living inhalant, though.
36. “SURVIVOR TYPE”
Best Art Bit: Ernst (who’s “really” Cassandra Nova) standing with No Girl (who is “secretly” Martha) in front of Magneto and unable to understand why he can’t just be Xorn (the way she’s being Ernst?) is the best art in the issue and best writing.
Best Writing Bit: Like I said up there.
Trivia: Magneto’s secondary mutation is to always come back. (Like Wolverine getting short to kiss people, this is a joke. Unlike that one, no one can find a panel where Mags definitely didn’t come back later.)
37. “Phoenix in Darkness”
Best Art Bit: Magneto gets his classic crazy eyes back at the end of the issue! Pop-eyed Magneto is the best Magneto.
Best Writing Bit: The pacing of the eight pages of Beak getting thrown around, dropped against buildings, and kicked in the face.
Trivia: The Cuckoos are back to echoing Emma Frost this issue, in phrasings in particular.
38. “Phoenix Invictus”
Best Art Bit: Fantomex leaping forth, guns blazing, to his own crucifixion.
Best Writing Bit: This issue’s X-Men team has mutants, humans, and modified humans, and robots, aged from teens to however old Wolverine is.
Trivia: Titanium is non-magnetic.
39. “Here Comes Tomorrow”
Best Art Bit: Purple and green everywhere! So pretty.
Best Writing Bit: Tom and Rover are great and completely developed.
Trivia: Marc Silvestri is the only artist returning to X-Men for this run.
40. “Surrender the Starlit City”
Best Art Bit: The go to work spread.
Best Writing Bit: “The menace of the Beast united us all – mutants, men, machines…” as we finally see the types all on the same page about something.
Trivia: The purple-haired psychic yelling after the machine-aided Brian is an echo of Psylocke and Captain Britain, a purple-haired psychic named Betsy, and her sometimes-machine-aided brother, Brian.
41. (No apparent title, so let’s call this) “Clear the Decks!”
Best Art Bit: Beak standing, facing the vast, choppy ocean at night and the army of Nightcrawler-looking winged demonthings coming their way.
Best Writing Bit: Rover finally says something other than “Destroy!” as Tom breaks his heart, chatting up E.V.A.
Trivia: The “scar on the atmosphere”/abscess in reality here is a recurring device of Morrison’s, from The Invisibles to his Batman epic.
42. “RESCUE… AND EMERGENCY”
Best Art Bit: Ernst/Cassandra with her hand on Martha, as they separate Jean from the Phoenix.
Best Writing Bit: Jean wishing Scott towards Emma.
Trivia: Way back in early X-Men, the team became convinced Beast was a supervillain, echoed in his thinking Emma is at the beginning of this run, and here he is the villain! But he’s not; he’s possessed.
New X-Men has an Omnibus, which you can buy here: