Comics Published on 5 September 2002

As I understand it, this was supposed to be the famous “psychic cat-fight” issue that Grant Morrison promised in an interview several months ago. Even though that promise has proven to be hollow (though, given this issue’s events, it’s liable to show up next issue), Morrison offers up another solid issue, despite some artistic inconsistencies that prevent the issue from being a complete success.

Morrison has stated repeatedly that Cyclops is his favorite X-Man, due primarily to his personal theory that if Scott Summers were a real person, he’d be a terribly conflicted individual. I mean, seriously, think about it. His wife has died more than once and returned from the grave. She’s also one of the most powerful beings in the Marvel Universe, especially when the Phoenix manifests itself. That self-same wife has lusted after Summers’ polar opposite, Wolverine, since practically the day Logan joined the team. Combine this with the facts that Scott’s former wife, who turned out to be a clone of Jean, also turned out to be some kind of demon; his child, which he sent to the future (Cable), is currently like twice his age; and the two people he cares the most about (Prof. Xavier and Jean Grey) are relentless perfectionists whom he will never be able to please. Put all this together and it hardly matters that Scott himself recently returned from the “dead” after having his psyche merged with the X-Men’s arch nemesis, Apocalypse. Add all that up and tell me that if you were Scott Summers, you wouldn’t have issues.

Well, as a testament to the unbelievably poor writing that has dominated Marvel’s flagship book for the past ten years, Cyclops didn’t have any issues at all until Grant Morrison took over the writing chores. This issue really shows Morrison’s love of Cyclops as a character, focusing almost entirely on Summers’ inability to cope with the aftereffects of his coexistence with Apocalypse and the ramifications that it has on his rapidly crumbling marriage. Emma, after having been basically and inexplicably reformed for the duration of Morrison’s tenure thus far, finally shows her true colors and gets back her formerly devious ways. There seems to be no reason for her attempts to seduce Scott other than to see if she can. And, I must say, it’s absolutely entertaining to watch his resolve just disappear by the issue’s end. This is a story line that’s been building since last year and it’s playing out in a manner that’s sure to have my diehard X-Men customers in an uproar and the rest of the customers enthralled.

On the art side of the book, we last saw John Paul Leon’s pencils about two months ago in a stand-alone issue that focused on Xorn, the human supernova that Morrison created in last year’s New X-Men Annual. I really enjoyed his art last time, as it has a subdued, yet realistic tone that set itself apart nicely from the pseudo-Paul Pope ugliness that Igor Kordey has been cranking out. However, this time, Leon’s got Bill Sienkiewicz doing the inks and it really just falls apart for me. I’m not sure if Leon or Sienkiewicz is to blame here, but the art is generally pretty poor. It just looks like it was turned in half-finished, poorly defined and sketchy. However, with a story this entertaining, the art is almost an after-thought, so the issue doesn’t suffer as much as it would have without Morrison at the helm.

Entertaining as always, though not a standout issue: .

Subway Series

The easiest way for me to review this book is with a story about me:

When I first started college, I was still dating the girl that I had gone out with during my whole senior year of high school. She, however, was still in high school in our hometown while I spent all day, every day, 30 miles away with people she’d never meet. This, I think we all know, lends itself rather nicely to cheating on your girlfriend. Now, I never technically cheated on her; rather, I created an institution that my friends laughingly dubbed “the pseudo-girlfriend.” Essentially, every semester I would find myself invariably attracted to at least one girl that I either worked with or attended class with. Since there’s no convenient time to mention that you have a girlfriend (mention too early and you come off as conceited; mention too late and you’ve been “leading her on”), I just basically never broached the subject. What it all boils down to is that these girls and I dated, in the purest sense of the word, but there was no actual physical contact between us, so it technically wasn’t cheating. My “real” girlfriend never asked if I was dating someone else, so I never offered the information up. It’s sleazy, I know. It reveals more about my own personal insecurity that I was too scared to let go of my security blanket girlfriend than anything else, but that’s not the point. The point is that this exact same set-up, which to my knowledge, I’ve never witnessed elsewhere on that scale and with that intent, is one of the central plot elements of Subway Series, an original graphic novel by a creator that I’ve never heard of (and if that reveals me to be an idiot, I apologize), Leela Corman.

This book was, in the solicitation, billed as “a teenage Sex and the City.” It certainly wasn’t what enticed me into buying it (that was the fact that I generally like to pick up original graphics, especially from the smaller companies, sight-unseen) and I think the comparison is actually kinder to Sex and the City than it is to Subway Series. However, I can see how that’s probably the closest mainstream property to which Corman’s book can be compared, so it’s an offense easily forgiven.

The reference lies in the fact that the heart of Corman’s book is burgeoning teenage sexuality, set against the backdrop of life in the big city. Tina, the protagonist, is a high school girl struggling with her feelings for Evan, a man with a girlfriend (and there’s the part that hits home for me) and the parody of a relationship that she’s carrying out with James. To be honest, I think my fascination with the story springs more from the opportunity to view the “pseudo-girlfriend” dynamic from the other side than from anything else. Evan clearly has very real feelings for her, yet he is unable to pry himself away from his long-distance girlfriend and commit to anything with Tina.

Corman’s book starts out sort of shaky, with some uneven storytelling, both in her line work and in the story’s pacing. It’s unclear early on what exactly is happening. The reader is rapidly fed a series of broken images that don’t really add up to much of anything, since the instances that they represent are happening at different times. It’s a minor complaint, as the story becomes fairly lucid after the first couple pages, but it’s not a real positive way to start what was, for me, a blind purchase; that is to say, it’s not the best way to make a first impression.

In the end, Corman’s graphic novel is a strong effort from a creator that has real talent, in a very Andi Watson-ish sort of way. That having been said, I would certainly recommend the book to fans of the Andi Watson / Tom Beland / Jessica Abel slice-of-life crowd. It’s worth picking up, particularly because it’s so cheap ($9.95).

I’d give it: .

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