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Grant Morrison Forever

The X-Men Run We’d Love to See Continued

By Chad Derdowski     April 14, 2010
Source: Mania


Comicscape: Grant Morrison Forever
© Mania

Last week, Marvel announced New Mutants Forever, which joins X-Men Forever and Louise Simonson’s X-Factor Forever to form a trifecta of retconned mutant continuity. Picking up after the events of New Mutants #54, Forever offers longtime X-scribe Chris Claremont a chance to explore what might have been had he remained on the book. It’s a way to extend the olive branch to crusty old fogies who haven’t read the books since the eighties (a time we like to refer to as “when they were good”) as well as yet another milking of the cash cow that is the X-Men. It seems that there are a million titles in the X-Universe and pretty soon we’ll have a million more that are outside regular continuity.

And it’s got us thinking… why stop now? Of course it’s cool to see where Claremont would’ve taken the series and it works with Simonson as well. But there were other X-writers who had decent runs and might deserve another crack at it. Today’s Comicscape explores another Forever we wouldn’t mind seeing.

New X-Men Forever

Back in the day, Marvel made a name for themselves by tackling topical issues and putting a little realism into their comics. Nowhere was it more prevalent than in the X-Men, where mutants became an analogy for any and every minority struggling to survive in a world that hated and feared them. Subject to religious persecution and distrust from the government, mutants were the freaks we could all identify with and Magneto and Professor X acted as the Malcom X and Martin Luther King jr of the superhero world. It was great stuff, but after having it crammed down our throats for 30 or 40 years, it got a little old. Like we were having the same conversation seven times a day, seven days a week.

Then along came Grant Morrison. Turns out the battle between mutants and humans was long since over and we’d lost. The next stage of evolution was upon us and it was time to make way for homo superior. Professor X’s vision of human/mutant co-existance appeared to be the victor (though radical mutant dissenters existed within the halls of his own school) and ol’ Chuck even came out of the mutant closet, announcing to the world that he was a mutant. The X-Men dropped the costumes in favor of sexy new uniforms and the X became less of a target and more of a brand name. We found out that Wolverine wasn’t Weapon X, he was Weapon TEN and that Captain America was Weapon I and we were introduced to a mutant-specific drug that enhanced your power levels. We were treated to little bits about the collective unconscious, the nature of space and time and saw superpowers being utilized in brand new ways. Scott Summers was having an out-of-body affair with Emma Frost and we saw less pretty-boy mutants like Scott or Warren Worthington and more characters like Beak, who actually couldn’t walk down the street without scorn.

Seriously, having to wear sunglasses all the time isn’t all that bad. Being insanely handsome and having giant wings that you can easily strap to your back when you want to hide them isn’t a terrible detriment and having to live your life as a ridiculously beautiful black woman with white hair and blue eyes… yeah, that doesn’t sound like someone who would be hated and feared. Stared at, maybe. And in some parts of the country, yes we concede that she would be hated – but not because of her white hair. But in New York City? Really?

And no, Morrison wasn’t the first writer to do this; Nightcrawler, Beast and a few others couldn’t exactly walk down the street without sporting the classic trenchcoat and slouch hat look. But with Morrison’s run, we saw more of it and we saw more outlandish and freakish characters who couldn’t just put on a coat and hat to disguise their deformity… and beyond that, they didn’t want to. Much of the credit here belongs to the artists who worked on the title as well as the changing times. In this respect, Morrison just took familiar X-Men tropes and turned ‘em up to eleven. In fact, that’s pretty much what he did with everything about the X-books: he just turned it all up to eleven and advanced it along it’s natural path. The path a book like that would have taken were it not mired in the mainstream Marvel U.

Grant Morrison gave us a bunch of grotesque characters, brilliant new concepts and actually evolved the X-Men for the first time in years. He made them cool again. He made them matter and it made it okay to read the X-Men in public and not be embarrased. And the minute he was off the book, Marvel did everything in their power to erase everything he created, relaunching the X-Titles with new looks and new directions, putting the costumes back on and not too long after, de-powering most of the mutant population to once again make them a tiny minority, hated and feared by the rest of the world. In short, they took a brilliant new concept and shot it in the head, setting mutant creativity back 30 years.

The Whys and Wherefores

Maybe it was because Morrison took things too far and shook the status quo up too much. As we all know, you can only rattle the apple cart so much before everything has to be set right again. Morrison made the X-Men interesting for the first time in years, but that once-exciting, now-boring foundation that the franchise had been built upon has sold an awful lot of t-shirts, action figures and pajamas. Sooner or later, it had to go back to boring status quo.

Maybe Morrion was just too damn good? The hive mind of the Stepford Cuckoos, the (quite literal) mind-f*ck that was Scott and Emma’s affair and the concept of a man with a star for a mind… well, these ideas are all distinctly Grant Morrison and not the type of threads that many writers can continue, much less follow up or try to top.

But we’re not here to wonder why. We’re here to put forth the notion that if anybody deserves a Forever title, it’s Grant Morrison. Sure, we’ve always been dying to know what Claremont would’ve done with the X-Men if he hadn’t been treated like dirt by editorial and driven to quit. Louise Simonson left a lot of dangling plot threads on X-Factor and the notion of returning to those ideas to see what might’ve been is thrilling. But Grant Morrison basically reinvented the X-Franchise from the ground up and took the concept into a new millenium. He gave us an X-Men that we could rally behind and evolved what the characters could be into what they should be. It wasn’t just a good X-book or a good superhero book; it was a damn good comic book, period. Grant Morrison took the X-Men to new heights during his run on the title and we’d love to know just how far he might’ve taken them if he’d stayed on the title for a few years more. If any creator’s work is deserving of a Forever title, it’s Grant Morrison’s X-Men.

COMMENTS AND RESPONSES

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cdale78 4/14/2010 6:24:28 AM

Morrison's New X-Men and Bendis' Ultimate Spider-Man were the titles that brought me back into reading comics after I dropped them in the 90s.  As well as X-Statix.  How about X-Statix Forever? 

thrillho131 4/14/2010 7:12:18 AM

The Morrison run was pretty nasty.  It was clearly way ahead of its time, as far as adult themes in Xmen are concerned.  Cassandra Nova was a pretty intense villain.  Now that I think of it, the new series could really use some kind of serious villain to help unify the story, other than Bishop.  Considering how Xmen has been lately, Morrison seems like a pretty valid precurser to this Fraction run.

Wiseguy 4/14/2010 7:21:16 AM

It isn't often enough that agree wholeheartedly with Chad but I agree 100%

But I must add that although I don't mind a mini or maxi on these out of continuity lines I am getting tired with their abundance. I love Marvel but the milking of the cow needs to slow down a bit. I think all these different lines of continuity can generate some backlash from the fans, just my opinion. We have the Ultimate line, the main line, the Adventures line, the Forever line

gauleyboy420 4/14/2010 9:54:37 AM

YES YES AND YES!!!

Excellent points Chad, and I agree, get Morrison BACK on New X-Men. His run (and Whedons Astonishing) have been the only two coherent GOOD runs in X-Books in over 10 years. Claremont was great back in the day, BUT remember X-Treme X-men??? Claremonts writing on X-men just aint what it used to be. Sometimes it's better to move on.

I like what Morrison is doing in the DCU (with the exception of Final Crisis) but would love to see him come back to the not so merry mutants.

Marvel retconned some of his best stuff from New X-Men... the Xorn/ Magneto thing...

creekwoodkid 4/14/2010 1:19:25 PM

Morrison's run was awesome, but I'm not into the forever thing. X-Men Forever lost me after about the 7th issue or so. In know this may be blasphemy, but I thought it was terrible from the first issue. It was not interesting, and it just didn't seem like the Claremont of old. Bring on fresh talent and fresh concepts!

gauleyboy420 4/14/2010 2:55:00 PM

Not Blasphemy, Claremont isn't what he used to be... Or we (the readers) aren't

Kinda like Frank Miller's writing... just not what it once was to me

Still like their work (old and new) just don't like the new as much as the old. Maybe it's not groundbreaking any longer, because they already broke that ground.

Don't think they should try to hard either, because it still won't capture the feel they once had. Miller did that on batman and Robin (which I actually enjoyed in a "Hey a guy who dresses up like a bat over his parents death, HAS to have some mental health issues" kinda way) and The return of the Dark Knight, which just wasn't very good...

deadcowboy138 4/14/2010 7:56:10 PM

Jesus Christ, thank you Chad.

Kurt here, from the No-Fly Zone.  Grant Morrison's run on New X-Men was brilliant.  Joss Whedon undid it with Astonishing X-Men (though Marvel editorial is certainly to blame as well).  Morrison wrote something brilliant, and then Marvel and Whedon trotted out the whole "We're bringing back old school X-Men!  These are the mutants you grew up with!"  That's the same goddamn nostalgia train that has kept superhero comics in a rut for years and makes movies like Transformers 2 succesful.  I wish--I really wish--f-cking geeks would at least allow guys like Morrison to take these beloved icons and rework them and make them interesting again.  Case in point: IDW's new G.I. Joe books are way better than they have any right to be.  When Chuck Dixon, Larry Hama, and Christos Gage took on the line a years ago, they stripped out the cartoon BS and maintained a good balance between the harsh realities of combat and the fantasy military aesthetic that made everyone like Joe when they were kids.  Morrison did the same sort of revamping with the X-Men (but better, to be honest).  When I was writing Comicscape (back in my day, damn kids), I praised Morrison's run, and the legion of X-fanboys would jump on me for how he "raped their childhood" or whatever because it didn't look exactly like Claremont's run or the goddamn cartoon from Fox in the '90s (which was actually pretty good, as far as kids' shows go).

Seriously, people that want a nostalgia trip are holding back comics and especially superheroes.  They are the reason that Marvel has to reset Daredevil to Frank Miller every few years (look, the Kingpin's back!)--or X-Men to Chris Claremont, or Spider-Man to Stan Lee and Steve Ditko.  It's the same old shit, over and over again, to keep a bunch of people happy that can't let go of the comics they read as kids.  Our toys don't have to go back in the closet, but they should be allowed to grow up with us--not make us miss childhood until we're dead.

cdale78 4/15/2010 11:45:00 AM

Grow old and die right along with you, instead of being embraced by a brand new generation. 

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