Posts Tagged ‘New X-Men’
“Thanks to things like ‘Buffy’ and ‘The Matrix’ the entire mainstream is pumped and primed to consume superhero stories.”
-Grant Morrison, 2001
There were two versions of X-Men in the 90s. An awesome cartoon that instilled a love of Wolverine and Gambit to the boys and girls of America, and all of the pointless crap that was written in the actual comic books. 1990s X-books were riddled with plots too convoluted to follow, art too ridiculous to swallow, and a general atmosphere of despair. At some point the editorial staff at Marvel must have said, “Our most relevant title is too fun, exciting, and smart with its balance of action and politics. Let’s make the X-Men an exhausting and boring look at dystopia as our heroes stare endlessly down the barrel of their own inevitable destruction.” Meeting adjourned, a decade of horrible comics begun, everybody shake hands and go home. If you were an angst-y 12 year old boy that might have seemed cool for 30 seconds, but after 10 years the X-Men had lost any relevance.
Then in 1999 Marvel got something right: they licensed the X-Men to 20th Century Fox and started a renaissance of good comic movies. While you and I bought tickets and pop-corn, Grant Morrison used keen insight to evaluate exactly what made the movie so good. In 2001 he wrote a letter to Marvel posing the question: What if we made the X-Men fun to read again? Thank God Joe Quesada agreed. The ensuing 40 issues were the perfect kick off to the 2000s by reintroducing everything that had made the X-Men so great in the late 70s and early 80s. Pulling opulence from subtlety, Frank Quitely eschewed the extravagance of 90s art by making characters look like real people again and condensed his edginess to a set of totally bad-ass costumes. Grant countered this by giving his characters witty dialog that centered on character relations endowed with humanity rather than tragedy endowed with crap.
Remarkably – and with some risk – Morrison showed no real ingenuity in his plot. E is for Extinction possessed every basic plot point of any X-title to date. We see a madman character bent on destroying the mutants with an army of sentinels. Morrison was treading on ground so over played it could have easily destroyed his work before it began. And yet, the point was just that: continuity was irrelevant. This was not a revamp of the X-Men Universe. This was a revamp of how we told the stories, not what stories we told. In his own words Morrison said, “We have to stop talking to the shrinking fan audience and re-engage the attention of the mainstream. Longtime fans will read the book and @$%! about it NO MATTER WHAT. We don’t need to attract them, we need to make the book accessible to the real world audience.” Somehow the creator of The Invisibles got it. Superhero comics are supposed to be fun, and any interest needs to come from characters, not continuity. Starting in 2001, New X-Men was the perfect title to kick off a new decade, and set the tone for much of the superhero titles that followed.
Posted September 22, 2009on:
As was a major theme of “New X-Men,” both of these characters were publicly chastised after their powers manifest at puberty (Beak by Dutch school children and Angel by her abusive step-father). They hate school (with the exception of the constant lessons between Beast and Beak) and they hate themselves until they have eachother. Then nothing else in the world matters. And then sometime between fighting the U-Men and getting awards for beating the U-Men,There are few titles that I loved as much as Morrison’s “New X-Men.” It pretty much had everything: intriguing new characters (fuck yeah, Xorn!), heartbreak (oh no, Xorn!), betrayal (man, fuck you, Xorn). And of these new characters, there are three who ultimately stand out above the rest and deserve the Underrated Underdogs treatment: Fantomex (which I’m soooo gonna let Jon handle), Beak, and Angel.
There are few titles that I loved as much as Morrison’s New X-Men. It pretty much had everything: intriguing new characters (fuck yeah, Xorn!), heartbreak (oh no, Xorn!), betrayal (man, fuck you, Xorn). And of these new characters, there are three who ultimately stand out above the rest and deserve the Underrated Underdogs treatment: Fantomex (which I’m soooo gonna let Jon handle), Beak, and Angel.
But why do I give a two shits about Beak and Angel?
They’re two balls of teenage angst, for one! They are seriously the best representations of two high school kids I have ever seen in a comic book. Look, Beak claims he’s “straight edge hardcore” (we all listened to Minor Threat when we were 16). Angel is labeled as a “skank” by the other X-Kids (if there’s anything teenage girls hate it’s teenage girls!). Yet, one kiss and they’re in love forever (your first relationship was totally like that, admit it). Put them together, and you have one of the biggest “awww” couples of comics (why I forgot them on the Top Ten Second String Comic Couples, I’ll never know).
As was a major theme of New X-Men, both of these characters were publicly chastised after their powers manifest at puberty (Beak by Dutch school children and Angel by her abusive step-father). They hate being in the “special class” at school (with the exception of the constant lessons between Beast and Beak) and they hate themselves until they have each other. Then nothing else in the world matters. And then sometime between fighting the U-Men and getting awards for beating the U-Men, Beak got Angel preggers. Three issues later, they had six babies with wings (fastest gestation ever!).
Following this, Beak proved several times over just how commited he was to Angel and the kids. When it turned out Xorn was (SPOILER ALERT IF YOU ARE A FEW YEARS BEHIND, SRSLY SKIP TO THE NEXT PARAGRAPH) Magneto in disguise and he turned the “special class” into the new Brotherhood of Mutants, Beak questioned the conversion to evil and got the shit beat out of him by Magneto. Then, to get Angel and the kids back, Beak fucking took on Magneto again. It’s adorable and it’s brutal! It’s adorabrutal!
Anywho, Beak, Fantomex, and the X-Men took Magneto down and then they lived happily ever after.
As if! Comics don’t work that way, dummy.
I’ll admit, after New X-Men, I never read any more of the story lines with Beak or Angel. I never read any other titles with Beak, with the exception of a little House of M. Beak ended up in the Exiles, skipped around the Marvel multiverse for a while, came back, dealt with a funky reality where Angel was a model and the kids didn’t exist, and then got hit with Scarlet Witch’s crazy fit.
Apparently, Scarlet Witch made Beak, Angel, and the kids (save Tito) humans (boring!). Then they got technologically-enhanced suits and implants and joined the New Warriors (what?). Now they just look like stupid ol’ people with stupid ol’ powers with the stupid new names of Blackwing and Tempest. At least they’re still together!
All right, let’s close this fucking thing. If Marvel somehow gets these two characters back into pre-Generation M shape, I would be so fucking into that. I mean, this is a comic book in the Marvel Universe. They can totally pull a Jean Grey and revert these characters back to when they were awesome! I mean, it doesn’t even have to be Morrison! I’m pretty sure that given to the likes of Jim McCann or Ed Brubaker or Brian Michael Bendis, it’d be totally rad! It could be the Marvel equivalent to Green Arrow/Black Canary!
Get on it, Quesada!
So your girlfriend/husband/best friend/sister/mom/wife/brother isn’t into comics? Bummer. High Five! is here to help!
I’ll kick this series off with an obvious one. Let’s say you are a gigantic Grant Morrison fan. Your girlfriend, as nerdy and awesome as she is, doesn’t like comics. Well, she thinks she doesn’t like comics. This post assumes that if you’re reading High Five! and you’ve got a girlfriend, she is probably at least a little geeky, not a classless woo-girl ninny.
Did she like Buffy? That makes it easier. Go pick up the first trade paperback of Buffy Season 8, The Long Way Home. Spend a month or two rewatching the ENTIRE series with her (If she wasn’t into Buffy before, she will be now. You may have to watch Angel as well, for maximum effect). When she goes into withdrawal after watching the series finale, whip that book out and say lovingly “Do you miss them already? Good thing I have this swell COMIC BOOK by JOSS WHEDON which continues the adventures of the fictional characters you’re hopelessly attached to! I got it for you because I LOVE YOU!”
Once she catches up on those, go pick up Whedon’s Astonishing X-Men run. Oh snap, your girlfriend is reading super-hero comics. When she finishes Astonishing, she’ll want to read New X-Men, to know what was going on BEFORE Astonishing. So go buy Grant Morrison’s New X-Men.
Now your girlfriend is reading GRANT MORRISON. Hot. From there you can get her reading Animal Man, Doom Patrol, We3, or JLA. I suggest keeping her away from The Invisibles at first, just to be on the safe side.
This whole process should snowball until your girlfriend is spending just as much money as you on Wednesdays!
Recap: Buffy/Angel – Buffy Season 8 – Whedon X-Men – Morrison X-Men – other Morrison books.
Next Week: Your Mom.