Thursday, November 08, 2007

X-Men: Messiah Complex: Chapter Two (Uncanny X-Men 492)

Chapter two spends a disconcerting amount of time recapping the storyline from part one. I suppose the point of the news report stuff is to show the extent of the devastation in Alaska, but we already saw that last week, so there’s no particular need for it. I would argue that this issue and the prelude could have been combined into one 30 page issue to speed the story along. But, I suppose it’s a 13-part crossover, so it’s going to take a while to maneuver everything into place.

What’s most interesting about this issue for me isn’t the story itself, as I mentioned, basically nothing happened, it’s looking at the way that Morrison’s run and other previous X-Men stuff has been synthesized to build the current status quo. X-Men itself is an evolving concept, a title that has been through many permutations, each new one taking elements of what’s come before and combining them into something new. I actually really like where the series is now. Despite the awfulness of House of M, the shortage of mutants has given the characters a new focus and gives an urgency to this storyline.

But, this status quo is ultimately counter productive to the thematic agenda of the series as a whole. Morrison redefined the characters and concepts in a way that was more dynamic and real than they’d ever been before. His run was all about examining the way that evolved humans would be perceived in the real world. They would certainly be hated by some, but would likely be at the center of culture, and that’s what he did to them. His X-Men were cool, an aspirational model for humanity. It was a more relatable model than the dying race we’ve got here.

But, I’m hoping this storyline will eventually bring us to the rebirth of mutant culture, it’s one of the rare cases where a giant reset button would be appreciated. Does Layla Miller have a superhero name yet? If so, I hope it’s Deus ex machina, but in this case, maybe her and Forge can make something to bring the powers back.

As for the story itself, our primary focus is the conflict between Scott and Xavier. Scott has grown up and taken control of the team, something that makes Xavier feel superfluous. I think this is an effective storyline because it takes advantage of Scott’s relationship with Emma Frost. She is his go to telepath now, and is willing to do things that Xavier isn’t. I love that Scott and Emma are still together, though neither are written as well as they were by Claremont or Morrison.

So, this issue isn’t exactly great, but it’s got enough interesting stuff to keep me reading. I’m eager to get to Sinister himself, and figure out what’s going on with him and his crew.

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