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March 27, 2004



haha, thrilled!!

its amazing how much i didn't catch. the weapon xiv thing got by me, and quentin there at the end.

matt rossi wrote a book!


That he did.

Good to hear from you again, man. It occurs to me that at some point well into my Ph.D., the vast majority of the reviews I had written were of Guttertrash stories...

Robin Hermann


First off, let me say I really enjoy your blog; well-written, smart, good stuff.

Secondly, since it seems like you're well-read in your Grant Morrison, maybe you can answer this question: how does his NEW X-MEN stack up against THE INVISIBLES?

I swear to God I am not being snarky in asking this. It's just that over the past week or so I've been reading these hagiographic eulogies on NEW X-MEN. Don't get me wrong, I really do like it so far: I've read the first 5 trades and I just bought the 6th. But I still don't think it compares to THE INVISIBLES. So I just wondered what you thought.




Thanks for the compliments, Rob!

How does NEW X-MEN stack up to THE INVISIBLES? To some extent I think it's apples and oranges, although less so than they might appear at first glance. THE INVISIBLES was always halfway a superhero book anyway (the costumes, codenames, powers, etc), and NEW X-MEN dealt a lot more intelligently with some of the same themes than, say, JLA did. (Mind you, I loved JLA, but it was more just a series of ripping yarns with the occasional thematic gloss.)

Part of me wants to say that nothing stacks up against THE INVISIBLES, because for the first half of that series - up through the Jiminez issues of volume 2 - I thought it was just about the greatest comic ever written, a technical masterpiece that was also on the verge of saying something fundamentally hidden and true about humanity. That Rick Moody quote I had about THE FANTASTIC FOUR in the Ice Storm post? That was me and THE INVISIBLES in 95, 96, 97.

But THE INVISIBLES was at its best when Morrison's brilliant, insane ideas were wedded to well-constructed narratives. They were never simple narratives - I'm thinking especially of "Dead Man Fall" and "Entropy in the UK" - but if you were willing to do the work everything fit together into a coherent picture of the Invisibles' universe. The series used ongoing comics continuity to its best effect, slowly adding details and answers and new mysteries and worming me deeper and deeper on the hook.

Then it started falling apart. Volume 3 in particular stopped telling coherent stories - the middle arc wasn't telling stories at all, just sharing idea after idea after idea. I understood that it was a counterpoint to "Arcadia," a mirror image, but you know, "Arcadia" still had a plot. I realized, and I guess Morrison forgot or didn't care, that I wasn't interested in the series because I cared what he thought about the genderless beings who would inherit the Earth's psychosexual future; I cared about what happened to Sir Miles, and what happened to Dane, and what did Edith mean to call him Boody, and would Boy ever show up again?

The final arc returned to the coronation plot that had started so well and been abandoned for so long, but the poorly-executed artists' jam marred that. (Why, oh why, does anyone hire Ashley Wood to tell a story?) The final, Quitely-drawn issue was fantastic, but, as with the previous arc, it felt like too little too late.

So, how does NEW X-MEN stack up? It clearly doesn't have the same thematic ambitions - but it does have ambitions, and it probably realizes them far more effectively because Morrison maintains the narrative. Wondering who killed Emma and what'll happen to Scott and Jean isn't nearly as profound as some of the questions raised by THE INVISIBLES, but they hooked me just as deeply. (In an age where everyone else is padding it out for the trade paperback, Morrison wrote a comic that still had me craving its monthly crack-fix, and God bless him for that.)

I suppose NEW X-MEN's greatest weakness, in comparison to THE INVISIBLES, is also its greatest virtue. It dilutes the same themes of evolution, revolution, and conflict into a standard superhero narrative, but again, THE INVISIBLES never worked better than when it had that superhero-style monthly continuity, and NEW X-MEN keeps it up throughout the run.

Oh, and you only just bought the 6th trade? "Planet X," right? Let me ask you - once you've read that one, please come back and then let me know how you think it stacks up. Because my friend, you are about to get your mind blown OUT OF THE TOP OF YOUR FUCKING SKULL.

Just like reading THE INVISIBLES...


Cool stuff, Marc. I'm curious about something; I've heard a lot of fans complaining that Morrison essentially wrote himself into his run of New X-Men as Cyclops, rather the same way that he wrote himself into Invisibles as King Mob. Any thoughts on that? His comments on the Cyke/Jean/Emma triangle (he described C & J as "so over" in one interview) do point to a "Mary Sue" sort of characterization.

Still, at least he's not Chuck Austen. /obligatory swipe

Steven Berg

I like your organization of the run into a three-stage story arc... rebirth, exploration of new roles, apocalypse, and an epilogue with a new rebirth.

I've been blogging on New X-Men for months as I read the trades, so I've been very happy getting to read the recent explosion of discussion on the book.

Pete, I didn't catch a Mary Sue whiff from Scott. Actually, speaking of King Mob, I wondered if there's a connection between King Mob and Charles Xavier. They look awfully similar when drawn by Phil Jimenez... I've found at least one panel in Invisibles (Bloody Hell in America, p. 78, panel 5) which is almost identical in structure to a panel in New X-Men: Planet X, p. 24, panel... 5! (I'm looking at the TPBs, here.) Given the care and attention to detail in Morrison's comic, I'd be surprised if this were coincidence. So, if King Mob is Morrison inserting himself into The Invisibles, I wonder if Xavier is Morrison inserting himself into New X-Men.


Jiminez does tend to repeat compositions for no reason I can fathom. The diving King Mob that opens "Black Science" is reduplicated exactly in one of his splash pages of Wonder Woman wearing that goofy 70s diving suit in all her Lynda Carter glory. No fair, I say; I kept expecting her to start shooting people. So I don't know if Xavier and KM have anything in common other than being bald people drawn by Phil Jiminez.

Also, Pete, I don't think Morrison was literally writing himself as Scott. (Sure, you'll hear fans complaining about it, but then again you'll hear fans complaining that his stories didn't have enough Shatterstar or Sabretooth or whatever other crap I skipped in the 90s.) Scott is just too fundamentally uptight for me to buy him as a Morrison figure, even the new straight-edge Morrison. I think I recall reading somewhere that Scott was his favorite X-Man, the one with whom he most closely identified... as I'm sure all of us geeks did... but that's not the same as a Mary Sue.


Damn you. You made me want to buy comic books again. Sure, I could blame Morrison for writing something worth reading, but I was happily ignoring it until YOU came along.

So if my wife complains about the charges to the comic store on the credit card, I will give her your address. Consider yourself warned.

Shawn Liu

First off, fantastic article. I feel you captured the essence of what made me enjoy this run so much.

Grant Morrison's New X-Men was what got me into comics full steam. I was always semi interested in X-Men and comics in general from my cousin back in Jamaica. I would read his copies of Wizard and get hooked into all the different story updates. I tried to delve in 10 years ago with the Age of Apocalypse crossover but I always found myself being months behind the publishing (and with no income). So when I read about the Morrison/Casey crew coming aboard for the X-Books, I figured that would be a great starting point for me to get into comics.

What I absolutely loved about Morrison's run (and I think why I hated Joe Casey's on Uncanny) was exactly what you said, he refused to let his characters sink back into any sort of status quo. From his powerfull opener of killing off Magneto and wiping out Genosha, to granting Xavier his ability to walk, to finishing up with Scott and Emma's newfound relationship, Morrison did everything he could to get away from the standard superhero conventions (droll) that caused the X-Men franchise to stagnate for so long.

Morrison strived to make an X-Men story that was more than just X-Men and he succeded. The weekend after #154 came out, I stayed up all night and read through the entire 41 issue run (bought the singles). Took me 9 hours to get through it all but it was one of the greatest comic experiences ever.

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