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Comic Book Alphabet of Cool – N

Today, we look at one of the best Marvel comics of the past decade.

New X-Men

As I’ve mentioned on the blog in the past, Joe Rice has a great term which he used to refer to the period when Grant Morrison was writing New X-Men – the Progressive X-Men Era, which was marked by the sheer amount of freedom Morrison was given to revamp the title (even changing the name to New X-Men, along with a new logo designed by Morrison himself!), which was unprecedented for the X-Men titles post-Claremont.

The results (especially the issues drawn by Frank Quitely, which sadly were few and far between) were quite excellent.

One of the things that struck me about Morrison’s run is that while he was given a lot of freedom, his run was not even all that controversial. A good deal of Morrison’s run is intentionally (at least, if I recall correctly, it was intentional) reminiscent of Chris Claremont and John Byrne’s X-Men run – there are the Sentinels, there is Magneto, there is the Sh’iar, there is a Phoenix saga – Morrison just tweaked these old story ideas, and did them in his own style.

Meanwhile, what Morrison DID change was the basic foundation of the book – it was no longer a book about this small group of mutants hidden away from the world, instead, mutants were going to drive homo sapians to extinction within X amount of years, and the world had to deal with this new proliferation of new mutants. Morrison had Professor X officially announce that he was a mutant, an idea that surprisingly had never been done before.

A lot of the best work during Morrison’s run came from the expansion of the school itself, and all the new students there, like Beak, the Stepford Cuckoos, Angel and Martha (the brain in a jar).

This soon led to the great storyline where the students rioted against the school, led by Quentin Quire, Kid Omega.

Another notable plot was Morrison having Cyclops begin an affair with Emma Frost. Morrison felt (and I concur) that Scott and Jean’s relationship was about as passionate as the relationship between Donny and Marie Osmond, so that he felt the two needed to split, and using Emma was intriguing, especially as Emma, this cold-hearted bitch, found herself falling in love with this square hero, Scott. Interesting stuff, although I perhaps would have preferred it if they did not have Scott actually CHEAT on Jean.

Sadly, the book’s artwork was not always good, mostly due to delays caused by the main artists, so you had poor Igor Kordey forced to rush out substandard comics. Later on, Chris Bachalo and Phil Jimenez did better work, although ending the series with Marc Silvestri was a bit odd to me.

Along the way, there are a number of other great ideas mixed in here and there – Weapon Plus, Fantomex, Xorn, Cassandra Nova, but all in all, it was a run mostly noted by just being a quality written comic that was not concerned with tying into Marvel continuity.

It was a good run.

19 Comments

FunkyGreenJerusalem

April 7, 2008 at 12:38 am

Did Scott actually cheat on Jean?

I thought he stayed faithful, physically, if not mentally.

From memory, Jean caught them just as Emma was finally making headway in seducing Scott, causing Scott to run off.
I remember it as he only gave in physically once Jean gave him a push from beyond the grave.

X-Force/X-Statix better be the letter ‘x’ in this alphabet of cool.

I had dropped X-Men right before Age of Apocalypse, but I gave this one a test run to see if Grant was going to give me something worthwhile. It was the first time in almost a decade that the X-Men made me want to get the next issue as soon as I finished the last page. Once he outed Professor X (come on! In any realistic setting, the Juggernaut would have ghost written a tell all book about his step brother while sitting around in The Vault!) I was hooked for the long haul. Too bad Marvel followed up with Chuck Austen, who promptly swore me off the X-books once more.

I have always had the fun of defending the book against Magneto “purists” who hate the meglomaniac, genocidal, old school Maggy returning to soil the sensitive revamped portrayal of the victimized anti-hero from Claremont’s later run. I recall a particuarly funny encounter where I was called a Anti Semetic Nazi for just stating the fact that Claremont retconned the character to be a Holocaust survivor . That guy still gets called “Godwin’s Law” whenever I see him.

For all the Frank Quitely fans: New X-Men counts as a vote for Frank Quitely. You cna’t vote for him for this. May I suggets voting for Wednell Vaughn and his quantum bands instead? (And, since they’re “Quantum” bands, it counts as a vote for Quantum and Woody, too.)

New X-Men was more faithful to the concept than anything that came out 10-15 years previous. Deal with it.

Hmm. When I read “Best Marvel comics in the last decade” starting with N, my mind went immediately to NEXTWAVE. Morrison and Quitely are a team supreme, as ALL-STAR shows; But Morrison with the wrong artist can be a incoherent mess, which I felt reading his non-Quitely X-men stuff.

Uhg, I absolutely hated the way Marvel was forcing Quietly to draw Wolverine with that soul patch so he’d look like Ultimate Wolverine.

For all the great creative stuff they were doing back then, there sure were some stupid editorial decisions being made.

One of my favorite runs on any series.

I’ll go ahead and second what a lot of people are saying here.

New X-men -
Writing: Very good, often Great
Art: Very often somewhere between bad and atrocious.

You could have even kept the “New” and just gone with “Avengers” instead of “X-Men”…

But this is about *cool* comics, yo go.

the kamisama, I’m sorry anyone called you an anti-semetic Nazi for defending this iteration of Magneto. That said, I truly disliked Morrison’s Magneto. He was, to be honest, boring. which was highly disappointing from Morrison. I had high hopes that he would take advantage of the complex character that Claremont had nurtured for many years and turned into something vastly more entertaining and complex than the usual megalomaniac, and use him in a thought-provoking manner. but he really didn’t do anything, other than suggest that Magneto was used up and passe. meh.

Otherwise, I did enjoy this run quite a bit, though the art was at times a trial. Quitely’s style was a bit jarring at first, and Kordey’s rushed work was often very poor. there was so little artistic continuity that is really damaged the work as a whole.

He did the most interesting thing that’s ever been done with Magneto, by looking at him objectively, and showing the power that the idea of Magneto held.

FunkyGreenJerusalem

April 7, 2008 at 5:49 pm

but he really didn’t do anything, other than suggest that Magneto was used up and passe. meh.

Actually, he just showed that the idea of a Magneto was more power than magneto – that culture had turned him (since his believed death) into a martyr – something more powerful than he could ever be alive.
You didn’t see that as interesting?

The Morrison/Quitely stuff is fantastic, the stuff drawn by other artists… less so.

Magneto is a monster. That is the whole point. In his efforts to prevent another Holocaust, this time against mutants, Magneto became the very thing he hated, a genocidal bigoted racist. Magneto is the embodiment of Friedrich Nietzsche’s declaration “He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster.”

In any case, looking at Morrison’s run in retrospect, he should get credit for trying to take the series and characters in new andinnovative directions, instead of simply doing yet another rehash of Claremont & Byrne’s greatest hits (coughcoughJossWhedoncoughcough).

Psychic cheating is still cheating.

This run was hit & miss for me. As people say, it does get points for trying new stuff. I did like the idea of Magneto’s legacy being more powerful than the man himself…but his role in Planet X was just…wrong, in my opinion. Claremont’s X-men is still the definitive Magneto, for me, at any rate.

Expanding the school, which in turn was an extension of Claremont’s New Mutants, was a great idea. Technically, Xavier didn’t out himself, tho…Cassandra Nova did it while possessing his body…

I concur that Scott’s psychic cheating with Emma counts as cheating – imagine how much it would hurt Jean, a telepath who had a long running psychic bond with Scott, for Scott to have a telepathic affair with another women…

Fantastic reactions here. I am a long time Morrison fan, and X-Men when I was younger was edgy and creepy and difficult, which is everything I love about good entertainment. The 90′s X-Men was bogged down in one of the most ill-conceived continuity of any era of comic writing. Morrison’s run on New X-Men, despite the art sometimes, was one of the best runs this comic franchise ever experienced. My favorite was the Claremeont/Byrne, Claremont/Cockrum stuff; however, Claremont has never been good at dialogue, so the whole approach with Morrison seemed far more modern. If any faults existed it was the murder mystery story, which I thought was weak and only neccessary to progress a future story that was executed far better.

I wasn’t buying comic books when this was being published, so I missed it all. I have acquired about six issues in the past year, and there is some really good stuff in here, but….. it doesn’t seem to fit in with the rest of Marvel very well. You seem to consider that a good thing, but I don’t see how it could be. The thing that always made Marvel so great was how all the books tied together well, and kept to the same history (at least until recently). And having mutants suddenly become about a tenth of the world’s population (at least it seemed that way) with an entire subculture of their own– that just didn’t fit with what had traditionally been the case, and it didn’t fit with what was going on in most of the rest of Marvel.
If Morrison wanted to write a book in which mutants were a huge, distinct society, he should’ve done it elsewhere, outside of Marvel continuity. There is a big difference between what makes a good story, and what makes a good story that is part of an ongoing series or a larger continuity– I really wish more writers would learn that.

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