Axel-In-Charge: Facing the 'Divided' Marvel NOW! Future
Today, we look at one of the best Marvel comics of the past decade.
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.
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