Advantages A thrilling, fascinating, emotional series of - yes - comic books
Disadvantages The entire story was written out of existence by Marvel afterwards through "retcons"
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Grant Morrison's NEW X-MEN!Featuring…
Charles Xavier (Professor X): Leader of the X-Men. Has psychic powers, and has regained the ability to walk again after being healed by Xorn.Scott Summers (Cyclops): Can fire 'optic blasts' from his eyes. After he engaged in a psychic affair with Emma Frost, his marriage to Jean Grey is on the rocks.
Jean Grey-Summers: Has all manner of psychic telekinetic powers. Is starting to become stronger and more powerful as a mutant, although many are worried her powers are beginning to control her.Hank McCoy (Beast): Has evolved into a blue, furry monster, but retains his civilised mind.
James Logan (Wolverine): Has a healing factor, so he can't be killed, and some shiny claws that burst out of his knuckles when he wants to fight.Emma Frost: Another psychic lady, who has designs on breaking up Jean-Grey and Cyclops so she can have Cyclops for herself.
Xorn: A benevolent Chinese mutant, with the power to heal injuries.
Xorn's Team: Consisting of the oddball mutants. Basilisk, Ernst, Beak and Angel (who are in a relationship) are the team members.The Stepford Cuckoos: Three identical sisters who have a close relationship to Emma. Their four sister - Sophie - was killed, and their fifth sister - Esme - has left the academy.
Fantomex: An artificially-designed mutant who shoots first, asks questions later.Magneto: The 'Master Of Magnetism', who apparently died when the town he lived in was eradicated by a giant robot.
Previously…-- Cassandra Nova, a mutant with strong psychic abilities, ordered a 'Sentinel' robot to carry out the genocide of 16 million mutants from the island of Genosha. She later 'outed' Xavier as a mutant to the rest of the World.
AND NOW, IN "NEW X-MEN"!Planet X, a five-issue event storyline, and one of the most important storylines in X-Men history.
146 dismantles the X-Men. Cyclops and Fantomex kick things off by crashing their shuttle into the pacific ocean, and things pick up from there, ramping up to extreme levels. The X-Men are slowly taken apart and killed off one by one, with some gloriously -drawn sequences from Phil Jimenez depicting the destruction as planes are blown up, people get shot into space, and all manner of hell breaks loose in the Academy itself. Morrison focuses on Charles Xavier here as his team are slowly separated and eliminated, leaving only a few left to help him. On top of all this destruction, he manages to end with a massive cliffhanger (hint: look at the cover of this hardback). The manner in which everything is laid out is superb, holding back all the details until the very last page. Morrison had planned this storyline out for years and years, and looking back everything falls into place - but seeing the massive twist at the end is shocking, even now.147 reveals Magneto's victory. With the X-Men completely defeated, Magneto and his new team revel in victory - although straight away, Morrison lays seeds of doubt for the reader. His version of Magneto parodies the popular ideology of who the character is, whilst at the same time showcasing just how dangerous he can be. Magneto has quite clearly gone insane, and as he destroys Manhatten in a stunning - seriously, it's stunning, you can see each building in incredible detail - splash sequence, it becomes clear that Morrison has something very big planned. This issue doesn't focus on any X-Men at all, as they have all been killed, seemingly. Instead Magneto takes control, and Morrison really proves his worth as a writer here. Magneto is eloquent and unstable at the same time. Morrison's take is that with a character as famous as Magneto, the public won't accept his insane plans to destroy the world. He makes long speeches, but nobody listens to him because they are so busy trying to stay alive in the carnage he has caused. It's an enthralling way to present a character. Magneto is so sure of himself, and half-delirious in his powerful madness, that he doesn't realise that nobody wants him to rule. His plan is pointless, but dangerous because he has such belief in it. It makes for a riveting issue.
148 explains Magneto's plan. He wants to change the magnetic poles of the Earth round, or something. This plan doesn't matter though - the point is that Magneto is insane. Morrison drags several items he planted way back through the series, such as the mutant drug 'kick' from his riot storyline, and pays off on them here. Magneto is a muddled drug-user, and even his allies question his sanity. Magneto has come so far, he doesn't really know what to do next. It continues to make for an impressive read, but Morrison also reveals what happened to Wolverine and Jean, who are trapped in space on a broken rocket that is hurtling towards the Sun… it sounds hokey, but the dialogue the characters have as they try to save themselves is breathtaking, as is the resolution of their attempts to break free. I won't say what happens, but Jimenez renders it in such detail that it seems real. The issue begins with the shuttle, and ends with the shuttle. It's powerful, even if you ain't a comic-reader like what I am.149 kicks off the rebellion against Magneto. Here we find out about Magneto's 'final solution' (and yes, I do mean to phrase it like that). The muddy streets of Manhattan are drawn so impressively by Jimenez that the comic takes on a filmic quality. Each page is drenched with atmosphere, as Magneto's psyche slowly falls apart, and his allies suffer for it. Some of his team abandon his plans and he tries to kill them. We follow Beak as he runs off, only to stumble into the resistance - which provides the first cheer of the issue. There are a few more, and we delve even further into Magneto's mind. Morrison's definitive stance is that Magneto is obsolete. Nobody goes round trying to destroy the World anymore, and for Magneto to think he is still relevant is absurd. He's no longer a villain, but a deluded psychopath who is fighting for no reason. Although this is fascinating, it means that this issue suffers a slight dip in quality from the rest of the paperback, and the final few pages don't provide quite the kick they need to, before the final issue begins.
150 is the big wow finish. This is the pinnacle of Morrison's run with the X-Men, and ends with one of the biggest shockers in the history of comics. No lie. There are some stunning moments here, as the X-Men attack Magneto and try to stop him before he goes any further. We especially get to see Cyclops, with all the tension built up inside the character channelled into a pure rage as he attacks Magneto. In the background of the fight, Jean Grey returns to Earth with Wolverine, having reverted into her powerful Phoenix persona. Characters die, and things end with Magneto fallen, looking at the rest of the X-Men. It makes for a powerful moment, as he then launches one last strike before he is taken out. This last strike is another pointed moment, as midway through a speech about how Magneto will never win, because good always triumph and yadda yadda, Magneto attacks again. Morrison has attempted to ground this series about mutants in reality, as much as he can, and these individual moments show just how much danger there is in the X-Men universe. Planet X ends with a heart-wrenching moment, which brings home everything that Morrison has been doing for the past thirty-odd issues and concludes almost everything."Planet X" is one of the best comic arcs ever written. It takes an outlandish premise - supervillain wants to ends the world - and grounds it in reality, showing Magneto to be deluded, and vain, and psychotic, which happens to be just why he is dangerous. Morrison's writing is superb, here, some of the best work he's ever done. It is simultaneously jaw-dropping, emotional, thrilling and filled with explosions (yay!), every page of it drawn with professional ease and grandeur by Phil Jimenez. I'm going to end my run of X-Men reviews here, because this is where Morrison's run ends, really. He has one more trade of work, but that's a story set in the future which doesn't impact on anything (and is rubbish, anyway). This is where Morrison showed himself as possibly the best comics writer of all time. A completely recommended read and an essential buy for anyone who has any interest at all in X-Men.
PLANET X collects together comics 146-150 from Morrison's run with the X-Men.
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Pages: 136, Paperback, Marvel Comics
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