New X-Men #153
Marvel Comics – Grant Morrison (w); Marc Silvestri (a)Well, it’s almost over. Grant Morrison’s semi-historic run on the formerly adjective-less X-Men is in the final stages, this issue being the penultimate moment. And while the vast majority of the run has been at worst entertaining and at best groundbreaking, the same simply cannot be said for the concluding arc.
Put another way, Morrison is incomprehensibly opting to go out with a whimper and not with a bang.
Which is sad, really, because “Here Comes Tomorrow” (the current arc) really looked pretty damned solid in theory.
The closing panel of last issue revealed the “Beast” to be, in fact, the future incarnation of John Sublime (a body part-swapping human villain from earlier in Morrison’s run), though the newly reborn Phoenix believes him to be Hank McCoy, someone she remembers only vaguely, but has feelings of trust for. While Sublime sends the Phoenix on a mission of genocide in Panafrika, Cassandra Nova, inheritor of Charles Xavier’s legacy, leads a small team of X-Men (including Wolverine, of course) across the ocean to Trans-Atlantis in an effort to prevent Sublime’s attempt to snuff out all life on Earth. Back at the Academy, Three-In-One (formerly the Stepford Cuckoos) struggles to unravel the mysterious psychic emanations that have plagued her since the beginning of the arc, learning only too late that the Phoenix has been reborn in Sublime’s control. And the stage is set for next issue’s big battle between the X-Men, Sublime’s horde of Nightcrawler hybrids and, of course, Phoenix herself.
Sound kind of goofy? That’s ’cause it is.
There are a lot of problems.
First off, there’s just too much going on for four issues to adequately contain. Never let it be said that I’m a supporter of Marvel’s “everything has to be told in six issue arcs” mandate (because I think that’s asinine and self-defeating), but I can grudgingly see where this arc really would have benefited from that approach. The death of Rover (the Sentinel) is played as being a tear-jerking moment, but I can’t figure out why I’m supposed to care. The robot and its owner were never more than an overgrown Iron Giant rip-off and it’s not as though Morrison really spent any time explaining the bond between the two of them (which he makes a cursory attempt at for about two panels following Rover’s destruction). And Tom’s feelings for E.V.A. are still sort of confusing and, frankly, feel like a random attempt to insert a tragic romance into the story (which normally would be Cyclops and Phoenix, except he’s apparently been dead for quite some time and she just resurrected). Put bluntly, “Here Comes Tomorrow” features a cast of mostly new X-Men in would-be dramatic situations that really don’t work because the reader is never given enough time or reason to care about these unfamiliar characters.
And when Morrison actually takes the time to have scenes where the characters could be considered to be interacting with one another, the dialogue is just awful. Seriously, none of them read like conversations between two people; it’s like two separate inner monologues are just being spoken aloud and interspersed. Oh, and also, the monologues are from people who are strung way the hell out on mind-altering drugs.
The plot itself, honestly, doesn’t make a damned bit of sense. It’s one of those clichéd superhero stories where the villain is going to annihilate all life on Earth and, naturally, it’s up to our heroes to stop him, but no one ever stops to consider why the villain would want to do that in the first place (other than, apparently, he’s evil and crazy and that’s just what evil, crazy villains do) and the writer isn’t going out of his way to help the reader on that one either.
It’s kind of funny though, because when Morrison’s run was about a year or so old, I had a discussion with some customers at my store about how we’d be curious to see what an old school “save the world from the random villain” X-Men plot would look like as told by Morrison. And now I know. And it sucks.
The worst thing about “Here Comes Tomorrow” though is that the return of Marc Silvestri to an X-title has driven sales up a bit, as lapsed X-Men readers flock to see the return of an artist whose name they recognize from ten years ago. And I guarantee you none of them can make heads or tails of this storyline. Hell, I’ve read every issue of Morrison’s run, most of them twice, and I’m still not sure what’s going on.
At the end of the day, it’s just a pretty little piece of incomprehensible superhero fluff. It reads, really, like Morrison just couldn’t get out of Marvel fast enough and threw a concluding arc together over a weekend (and that’s being generous). It’s a sad conclusion to what has otherwise been a pretty outstanding run (if you ignore Igor Kordey’s butchery, that is).
“Planet X” (the previous story arc) was released in trade paperback this week as well. If you’re one of those readers who are buying the run in trade only, do yourself a favor and just stop there. Seriously.