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Frantic as a cardiograph scratching out the lines, Day 42: X-Men #114

Every day this month, I will be examining the first pages of random comics. This month I will be doing theme weeks, with each week devoted to a single artist. This week: Frank Quitely! Today’s page is from X-Men #114, which was published by Marvel and is cover dated July 2001. Enjoy!

There's absolutely nothing to see in Australia EXCEPT the Sydney Opera House

The first issue of the Grant Morrison run on X-Men (I refuse to use the adjective “new”) begins in Sydney, where Wolverine and Cyclops are destroying some sentinels. Quitely drew this, Tim Townsend inked it, Brian Haberlin colored it, and Comicraft lettered it. Let’s consider it, shall we?

So Morrison wants to show that the X-Men are super-tough, so the old-style sentinels don’t even matter to them. Scott is casually blasting the head of one while Logan takes out the body, and his dialogue is very matter-of-fact. It’s also fairly humorous, because it speaks to Wolverine’s reputation as a berserker – the sentinel is pretty much totally disabled, but Logan keeps hacking away at it.

Quitely’s page is interesting for several reasons. We begin with Logan, surrounded by the smoke gushing out of the sentinel, and he’s wearing the new “uniforms” of Morrison’s X-Men. Quitely’s sentinel is angled from Wolverine down to the bottom right, where Scott stands, and the stump of the hand points directly at Scott’s word balloons. Cyclops also has the new costume on, and Haberlin cleverly makes the yellow extremely bright against the dusky light of the waterfront. It draws attention to the new costume, which is probably the point. Scott’s eye beam lead us naturally back to the sentinel’s head and the explosion blowing out the back, and that allows us to spot the dude underneath the hand, which a reader might have missed if they were reading the page too quickly or if Quitely didn’t divert us from turning the page by forcing our eye back to the center instead of naturally going onto the next page. It’s an interesting way to stop us from doing what comes naturally, and Quitely manages it. We don’t get much of his askew character design, except for Steve/Ugly John’s bizarre face, which we almost pass over. Quitely makes sure we don’t though.

Quitely didn’t work with Morrison as much as promised on X-Men, but he did give us some nice issues. This is a nice first page that helps set the mood that Morrison was going for very well.

Next: Well, it ain’t Morrison, but will Neil Gaiman do? And, of course, there are archives. Always with the archives!

12 Comments

I have to say, even after all this time, there’s something about seeing the X-Men in Australia that makes me think, “Noooooooo! Not again!” I hated all that time they spent dead in Australia so much that it kept me away from the X-books for 20 years.

I always interpreted that page as less about being “tough” then as sly foreshadowing for one of the big themes of of the run;that the X-Men can stop going through the motions on the same old stories. Notice it’s Cyclops who says it which sets up (from the very first page!) how New X-Men will be about him (and by extension the entire team) have to stop living in roles set for them as teenagers/young adults. How blase Cyclops’ statement is also a nice hint at how world weary he is at the start of the run. Morrison’s X-Men really does not get enough credit for how well written it it’s filled with these excellent, complex bits of storytelling that don’t really call attention to themselves as such. Quietly of course nails all of this effortlessly.

James: I’m sure that’s it, too, although that would tie into the idea of being tough – old threats that they’ve dealt with in the past just don’t do it for them anymore. I do like your idea, though, and I’m sure that Morrison had that in mind.

Cyke was a trendsetter with the skinny jeans/pants.

While I like the page, I have to imagine that Cyclops would call Wolverine “Logan”, not “Wolverine” in such a situation.

If a more traditional superhero artist drew this page, Scott would be gritting his teeth and crouching like he was losing a battle with a massive dump. Thank God Quitely isn’t more traditional. :)

@garik16

They are in the field. Code names in the field!!! Always.

Morrison was right, sorry.

Another Morrison/Quitely book that blew me away when I finally got to read it. Such a good run. And as we see here, so awesome right from the start.

And you totally have to call it New X Men, or else that cool logo that’s the same upside down as right side up doesn’t work!

Ooh, I know what tomorrow is!

They’re so hip they don’t even need sound effects anymore when there should be at least one ZZZZT by Wolvie and maybe something for Scott’s eye beam.

These first 3 issues of New X-Men blew the brain out of the back of my head, and I still haven’t recovered. This and Simonson’s Orion and Milligan and Allred’s X-Force saved comics for me, otherwise I would not be here today. I would probably be rich and successful and have a straight spine instead.

I do love how the first page is a microcosm of the run.

I’d been cold turkey on Superhero books for a few years or so when this came . Brilliant, just brilliant.

What purpose would a “ZZZT” sound effect serve, other than cluttering up the page? We can see pretty well what Cyclops is doing.

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