Author Topic: HOW GRANT MORRISON RUINED THE X-MEN by David Brothers  (Read 5208 times)

Offline Reginald Hudlin

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HOW GRANT MORRISON RUINED THE X-MEN by David Brothers
« on: November 09, 2009, 01:46:14 pm »
Grant Morrison Ruined the X-Men
November 6th, 2009 by david brothers
 
Grant Morrison ruined the X-Men when he wrote New X-Men.

No, really, itís true. Look at Marvelís moves after he left the book. The very first thing they did was launch X-Men: Reload, a branding and soft-relaunch initiative that saw Chris Claremont put on Uncanny X-Men, Chuck Austen placed on the last two issues of New X-Men (where he cleaned up plots that were already perfectly clean), and Joss Whedon hired to write what turned out to be one long love letter to the glory days of Claremont/Byrne Uncanny X-Men.

Later, they reduced the total number of mutants to the low three figures, a huge change from Morrisonís population of millions.

Morrison pulled the X-Men into the modern day, not even the future, and Marvelís move after he left was to immediately dial things back to 1982. Itís a baffling decision, and one thatís hamstrung the X-Men ever since. Whedonís run went from mildly entertaining to stone cold stupid with a quickness (Space bullet, Professor Xavier in a truck, too-cute dialogue, pretty much everything after issue 12, though granted John Cassaday was awesome throughout), no one remembers Claremontís run despite the Alan Davis art, Peter Milliganís run was a non-starter, Brubaker was a tremendous mistake, and Matt Fractionís run is a little too cute and sandbagged by Greg Land. The best X-Men run since Morrison left was the first year or so of the Mike Carey/Chris Bachalo/Humberto Ramos X-Men, which managed to match the writing with the art and tell a solid story. It was good, however, not great.

New X-Men was great.

ďNo question, bein a black man is demandiníĒ
The X-Men have often been seen as a metaphor for oppressed peoples, with black and gay people being the most common ones cited. Morrison looked at this metaphor, looked at real life, and updated the X-Men to reflect that. Being a mutant became cool in the same way that being black is cool. You can buy clothes and music made by mutants and be down. You can even hang out in Mutant Town after dark to show how open-minded and cool you are.

At the same time, that only goes so farĖ no one wants to be black, or a mutant, when the things go down or the cops show up. So when Xorn visits Mutant Town and ends up witnessing the death of a young mutant? The humans react the way they always have: with fear and bigotry.

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 didnít really care about the X-Men.

These Are The Days of Our Lives
The soap opera was a huge part of the draw of Claremontís, and everyone elseís, X-Men, Morrison included. However, where the previous soap operas tended toward being the status quo (Rogue and Gambitís will they/wonít they, Scott and Jeanís alternating marital strife and bliss, Storm being aloof and faux-queenish, Iceman being an idiot), Morrison took them and forced actual change.

Jean Grey embraced her amazing powers, rather than being afraid of them and found true peace and confidence. Wolverine goes from a beast of a man to a man who has figured out how to keep the beast under control through discipline and poise. Emma Frost found love. Magneto found out what it really takes to change the world. And so on.

My favorite change, though, is Cyclops. He went through something horrible and traumatic, and after, he didnít feel the same. He felt like he didnít 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.

Itís a bad thing, but at the same time, believable. His friends warn him off, tell him heís being stupid, and he still does it. And when the missus finds out, whatís he do? He leaves to get drunk. He reacts poorly to a situation he simply doesnít 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 heíd 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.

Grown Man Business
Grant Morrison made the X-Men grown-up. He eschewed stereotypical supervillain stories until the tail end of his run, and even those stories were layered with a depth of character and nuance that kept them above generic megalomania. When Magneto nearly destroys New York as the culmination of his big plan, heís forced to confront the fact that the personality he created to further his plan, the healer Xorn, is better liked and more effective than he could ever be. No one wants Magneto any more. Magneto is old and busted, Xorn is the new hotness.

Thatís what Morrisonís New X-Men run was about: the new. Mutants as subculture, the changes Beast has gone through, Wolverine fighting against his true nature, Jean loving herself and her powers, and Magneto joining the X-Men and doing more good than he ever did before. All of that is pushing the X-Men toward the new.

The X-Men, moreso than any other franchise, needs to be on the cutting edge of culture. The oppression metaphor practically requires it. Morrison put them right out there, threw a bunch of new ideas and philosophies into the mix, and created something amazing.

And ever since, Marvel has run screaming from it. Major developments were dialed back, retcons applied, and hands waved. The X-Men line, post-NXM, has been, to be kind, a complete mess. Itís finally found focus recently, but New X-Men? That was years ago.

They would have been better off embracing it wholeheartedly, rather than depowering all the mutants, reinforcing 15 year old status quos, and generally putting out bad comics. Morrison laid the ground work for a whole new generation of X-Men comics. We couldíve seen the tales of a new class of New Mutants who had no interest in being soldiers, explored mutant subculture in-depth, examined how humans react to having a brand new and vibrant subculture evolve right under their noses, or even just shown an X-Men team that didnít solve all its problems by hitting things really hard.

The seeds for all of this are right there in New X-Men. But, weíll never see it. Marvel got to the end of NXM, recoiled, and ran in the opposite direction. Now weíre just left, once again, with re-runs of our grief. The potential for the X-Men to be more than they were, and are, is gone. Itís sad, but itís true. After New X-Men, the franchise took a hard turn into a brick wall.

Marvel hasnít totally run from it, though. You can still buy the series in three handsome softcover volumes. I absolutely recommend it. Itís definitely my favorite X-Men story.

Offline Vic Vega

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Re: HOW GRANT MORRISON RUINED THE X-MEN by David Brothers
« Reply #1 on: November 09, 2009, 02:44:02 pm »
An interesting analysis and one I agree with. Morrisonís run was clever groundbreaking stuff.

But I submit that the X-fans were far more enamored with inhaling the new car smell of Grant Morrison and his various artists then they were in exploring any of his ideas.

Look at the tally:

District X: Cast Bishop a fish out-of-water cop in mutant-town. The interesting thing was that in town full of Mutants, Bishop is normal but he has no idea how to be normal(for instance he never got why his married partner on the force found him a threatóheís used to everybody around him looking like a bodybuilder).

That book got cancelled. Way sooner than Bishop titles usually get cancelled (6 issues a new low).

New Mutants: Cast the original New Mutants as teachers to a new crew of kids who, arranged by the school in harry potter-esq teams/houses, mainly try to flirt and make friends with each other.

That book got NEARLY got cancelled Then they book reinvented by depowering/killing off all but the most BADASS characters who formed a BADASS team(to do BADASS, stuff no doubt).

THEN that book got cancelled. The added BADASSERY saved it for an extra 12 issues.

X-Treme X-Men: Chris Clairmontís personal playground-this book cast Stormís team of former X-men as anti-segregationist law enforcement officers. Unnerved by the recent actions of their former teammates they resolved to watchÖwell, everybody friends and enemies alike.

THAT got cancelled as well. And folded into the main X-books-all hints of prior internal strife were ignored(aside from the usual ones-Storm hates Emma etc).

All the books built on Morrisonís premises sold like crap and either died outright or morphed into more standard material. Itís hard to blame Marvel for not letting the X-franchise lose book after book in its cash cow franchise to cancellation while the concept was becoming thematically relevant again.

As much as the message board net-izens may complain about Fractionís work they are actually buying all the books now.  None of them signed on for fresh and new. They want the same old, same old but better executed.

Marvel did the only logical thing.

Better to drive into a brick wall then off a cliff.
« Last Edit: November 09, 2009, 02:45:48 pm by Vic Vega »

Offline Redjack

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Re: HOW GRANT MORRISON RUINED THE X-MEN by David Brothers
« Reply #2 on: November 11, 2009, 07:11:27 pm »
Morrisson did ruin the X-men by entirely missing the point of the book.

By expanding the mutant population into the millions he destroyed the uniqueness of the mutants as a species and, more than that, DESTROYED the equilibrium of the rest of the MU. It makes no sense, whatsoever, that the world would be able to continue to persecute mutants, even on a small scale. Genosha would very quickly have become not only the most powerful nation on earth but the ruling nation. Ten Omega level mutants, with an army of "normal" mutants behind them, could easily take over the planet or, failing that, destroy it in a bid to take over. It's RIDICULOUS that so many mutants would put up with anything like the sort of treatment they get in the MU. So ridiculous that SOMEBODY should have figured that out the second Morrisson pitched it.

The stories themselves were mostly fun, Morrisson's usually are, but it was also an example of an extremely selfish creator doing as he wished with no thought whatsoever to the ramifications of his works.

No writer, not even Alan Moore, is a perfect fit for everything he or she touches and Morrison, while writing an extremely entertaining series of tales with NEW X-MEN, was not writing the X-Men as they had ever existed or, frankly, should exist.

I consider the entire period an aberration that is mostly best forgotten.


Soon you will come to know. When the bullet hits the bone.

Offline JLI Jesse

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Re: HOW GRANT MORRISON RUINED THE X-MEN by David Brothers
« Reply #3 on: November 12, 2009, 06:56:29 am »
The stories themselves were mostly fun, Morrisson's usually are, but it was also an example of an extremely selfish creator doing as he wished with no thought whatsoever to the ramifications of his works.

No writer, not even Alan Moore, is a perfect fit for everything he or she touches and Morrison, while writing an extremely entertaining series of tales with NEW X-MEN, was not writing the X-Men as they had ever existed or, frankly, should exist.

I consider the entire period an aberration that is mostly best forgotten.

You took the words right out of my mouth.

Offline Greg

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Re: HOW GRANT MORRISON RUINED THE X-MEN by David Brothers
« Reply #4 on: January 13, 2010, 10:30:06 am »
District X wasn't canceled in 6 issues. It had a little more than 12, I believe 14 issues or so, and that's not counting the Mutopia X volume.

Offline Hypestyle

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Re: HOW GRANT MORRISON RUINED THE X-MEN by David Brothers
« Reply #5 on: January 14, 2010, 07:33:39 pm »
if and when morrisson's dc exclusive ends, I hope he comes back to do something for Marvel, even if it's an "All Star" Format book, to avoid any continuity carping...
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Offline stanleyballard

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Re: HOW GRANT MORRISON RUINED THE X-MEN by David Brothers
« Reply #6 on: January 25, 2010, 09:58:19 pm »
The stories themselves were mostly fun, Morrisson's usually are, but it was also an example of an extremely selfish creator doing as he wished with no thought whatsoever to the ramifications of his works.

No writer, not even Alan Moore, is a perfect fit for everything he or she touches and Morrison, while writing an extremely entertaining series of tales with NEW X-MEN, was not writing the X-Men as they had ever existed or, frankly, should exist.

I consider the entire period an aberration that is mostly best forgotten.

You took the words right out of my mouth.

Remember this period and have to agree that some of his ideas were ok but the franchise was so bad before him that even if he had one good idea then he could be lauded as being the next best thing on the X franchise.  The series had lost relevance for most of the 90s anyway...dropped it again after the horrible Messiah Complex conclusion and think that the only thing worth reading is X-Factor which really doesn't seem like an X book most of the time ...it's the most original thing to come out of the X world in decades.

Offline JLI Jesse

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Re: HOW GRANT MORRISON RUINED THE X-MEN by David Brothers
« Reply #7 on: January 26, 2010, 06:30:20 am »
I stopped reading X-Men about 6 months ago...and I am pretty sure I haven't enjoyed it since about 1995.  God, I hate myself sometimes.

I agree, X-Factor is the only book worth picking up.

Offline Hypestyle

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Re: HOW GRANT MORRISON RUINED THE X-MEN by David Brothers
« Reply #8 on: January 26, 2010, 05:23:22 pm »
I stopped reading X-Men about 6 months ago...and I am pretty sure I haven't enjoyed it since about 1995.  God, I hate myself sometimes.

I agree, X-Factor is the only book worth picking up.

Jesse- is that the Louise Simonson "reboot"/alternate-canon series I read about a while ago? it's already out?
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Offline JLI Jesse

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Re: HOW GRANT MORRISON RUINED THE X-MEN by David Brothers
« Reply #9 on: January 26, 2010, 05:42:54 pm »
I stopped reading X-Men about 6 months ago...and I am pretty sure I haven't enjoyed it since about 1995.  God, I hate myself sometimes.

I agree, X-Factor is the only book worth picking up.

Jesse- is that the Louise Simonson "reboot"/alternate-canon series I read about a while ago? it's already out?

Hmmm, whats this about Louise Simonson book?  I haven't heard of it.  I was talking about the Peter David book.  But tell me more about this other book  :)

Offline Lion

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Re: HOW GRANT MORRISON RUINED THE X-MEN by David Brothers
« Reply #10 on: January 26, 2010, 07:44:38 pm »
He's talking about X-Factor Forever (limited series)

Offline JLI Jesse

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Re: HOW GRANT MORRISON RUINED THE X-MEN by David Brothers
« Reply #11 on: January 26, 2010, 08:15:16 pm »
He's talking about X-Factor Forever (limited series)

Haven't heard about it...what the story?

Offline Hypestyle

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Re: HOW GRANT MORRISON RUINED THE X-MEN by David Brothers
« Reply #12 on: January 27, 2010, 03:53:39 pm »
He's talking about X-Factor Forever (limited series)

Haven't heard about it...what the story?

it's supposed to pick up from the summer-1991 storyline involving Apocalypse & the kidnapping of baby nate.. with the original X-Factor members at the time..
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Offline JLI Jesse

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