fans reading this journal or out there? Or maybe not fans so much as folks who've read the Grant Morrison arc?
It's funny, I stopped reading the X-men right around the time Grant Morrison took over the series and created the New X-Men. What he basically did is reboot it - and evolve the characters, taking what had been a superhero book and turning it into a hyper-realistic, sci-fantasy, story filled to the brim with metaphor and psycho-philosophical chewiness. But at the time, way back in 2001-2002, I still wanted the superhero book or mainly lost interest, and well, unemployment struck, so couldn't afford it. So I gravitated towards Buffy the Vampire Slayer
, and became insanely obsessed with that. It was in a way a far more rewarding obsession, once I discovered the online fandom, which I could discuss it with in geeky splendor. X-men
-- I stayed away from the fandom, my interactions with them in comic book stores...were, well...think Warren Mears meets Sheldon from the Big Bang Theory.
Now I've read a good portion of Grant Morrison's arc, vol 1 through vol 3, or the Cassandra Nova arc, and it's rather brilliant. Nova is a mummundrai - or the antithesis of Xavier. She is the other, that legend has, we met in the womb -- the anima. The hunger, the demon, the fear, the despair, the insecurities that knock at your minds door and want to be let in. In the background, we have various characters struggling with inner demons. And the new students at the school - aren't pretty, aren't powerful, and are incredibly vulnerable. Nova wants to exterminate all mutants, everyone who has a genetic anomaly, who is different. She does it through biological warfare, robot sentinels, and mind control - or tries to. Doesn't succeed. They finally defeat her by working together, overcoming their fears, and deconstructing her mind and essence into what amount to an alien organic device programmed to learn.
The art is uneven. I'm rather fond of Silverstri and Yu's art, but Quitely is almost too bland, and this other guy too busy. However, what I love most about these type of comics is the art continues to change and you see various interpretative styles.
It's odd that like hyper-realistic art in comics, when my own art and drawings are more abstract and cartoonish, less realistic. See the icon of the dragon for an example. I don't tend to draw detailed and realistic renditions. It's not that I can't - give me a picture and I can pretty much draw close enough to it. But when I do it naturally, it tends to be more abstract or surreal in design. Drawings and pictures like all things artistic is in the eye of the beholder.
The writing like most comic books is uneven as well. Brilliant in places, cheesy in others. Also typos here and there - which is sort of reassuring, I'm not the only who screws up in this regard.
Good to know.
Cyclops arc continues to be interesting and consistent. Actually all the characters are consistently written. Jean is gaining in power, and he's understandably concerned. (Actually he's been concerned since before he was taken over by Apocalypse - way back when they living in Alaska, he'd asked his friends to come up to discuss Jean's Phoenix manifestations. And he has reason to be concerned. She is becoming insanely powerful again, and the last time she lost control - he lost her.) But they are estranged in some ways, he doesn't trust her or himself any longer. He senses her judgement of him.
Jean in her own way resents him for severing their psychic bond to sacrifice himself to Apocalypse.
She'd begged him not to do it. And while she managed to severe Apocalypse from him, he was changed.
Apocalypse exposed all his self-doubts and insecurities about their marriage, everything. As Wolverine puts it at one point - being taken over by an evil thing isn't funny. Scott is gritting his teeth to hold it together, to stay sane. So yes, he comes across as uptight, but he's barely keeping it together. (Which is a nice change of pace -- often in comics and television shows, a hero is possessed by evil, then whoa, all better. Then possessed again. Then all better. And that's not how it works. When we battle our demons, particularly internal ones, we are changed.)
Joss Whedon took over the comic after Grant Morrison's run. And Whedon, interestingly enough, got into the comics again when Morrison took them over. He found Morrison's take inspiring and he read it voraciously, along with Claremounts (which I was incredibly addicted to in the 1980s and 1990s) (I know this because he stated it in an interview:
Wired: What’s it like for you to write other people’s characters? Your run writing Astonishing X-Men managed to do all kinds of new fun stuff, but still hearken back to Chris Claremont’s work in the 1980s and Grant Morrison’s completely weird stories.
Whedon: Well those are the runs that I read. Those were, I thought, the two true golden eras of the X-Men and I followed each of them voraciously. Originally I was supposed to take over New X-Men. It wasn’t, “Do you want to start a new X book.” It was “Do you want to take over Grant’s book?” And I loved it. It was my favorite book. I thought he was really honoring the spirit of the book, because he was pushing the boundaries of science fiction and the emotion and really going out there.
Wired: Sure, but it got nuts.
Whedon: It did get nuts. You know, Grant’s not not nuts. But it never lost me, you know. When Frank Quitely wasn’t drawing it I would be sad, because he was so much a part of it.
Wired: If Morrison doesn’t have a good artist his books are completely incomprehensible.
See the full interview Here
It is true Quitely got Morrison's vision, although I did like two other artists in there who were quite good, almost better, but didn't draw nearly enough issues. They had one in there that was way too busy and the story was incomprehensible when he drew it.
It's probably worth noting that there is a very good reason that I'm a fan of Joss Whedon, more or less. 1) He's studied the same cinema that I did in depth - Westerns and Terminator films. So we have a similar film history. Also the horror films of the 70s and 80s. 2) Same generation, he's about two or three years older than I am. 3) Shakespeare, X-men, Star Wars, and General Hospital are guilty pleasures. And the man likes to explore his characters inner demons, pain, and psychological arcs.
That said, it's a love hate relationship. He frustrates me.
Morrison is a controversial writer. Many X-men fans believe he ruined the series for them - taking Cyclops into a darker arc, breaking up Scott and Jean's marriage, killing off Jean...etc.
A really good blog post about Morrison's run can be found HERE
* Morrison turned mutants into a subculture, a logical extension of what happens when new elements are introduced into society. They were still oppressed, but they actually had some kind of culture to go along with their oppression. He gave them their own Chinatown, their own Little Italy, and made it a point to show that mutants, while not entirely accepted just yet, were more than just mutant paramilitary teams. There were ugly mutants, ones with useless powers, ones with hideous powers, and ones who just didn’t really care about the X-Men.
* My favorite change, though, is Cyclops. He went through something horrible and traumatic, and after, he didn’t feel the same. He felt like he didn’t measure up to the storybook romance that he found himself in, and was worried about not being perfect enough for his (in his eyes) perfect wife. And it hurts their relationship, they grow apart, and he eventually finds someone else.
It’s a bad thing, but at the same time, believable. His friends warn him off, tell him he’s being stupid, and he still does it. And when the missus finds out, what’s he do? He leaves to get drunk. He reacts poorly to a situation he simply doesn’t know how to handle, and ends up adventuring with Wolverine.
And you know what? It works. It pulls Cyclops away from being the stick in the mud, generic leader type he’d been for years. He even sticks to the Marvel blueprint: he struggles with a personal problem, makes a poor decision, and somehow ends up sticking the landing.
I'm not sure I agree that Marvel ran from it and dialed it back to the 80s. Just different takes.
Cyclops story remains interesting and controversial.
I love controversial characters and stories. The more controversial the better. If character doesn't rile people up, get them talking, then he or she's too bland. That's what I adored about Buffy's latter seasons - it was controversial. And Breaking Bad - controversial, in your face.
Also I like a distinctive narrative voice. Grant Morrison definitely has that. It stands out from the crowd.
Overall today was a relaxing, lovely day. I watched Longmire, took a long walk, visited my reflexologist, and read comic books.