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New X-Men #144

Posted: Tuesday, August 12, 2003
By: Shawn Hill



"Assault on Weapon Plus 3: The Flesh"

Writer: Grant Morrison
Artists: Chris Bachalo (p), Tim Townsend (i)

Publisher: Marvel

Plot:
Fantomex, Wolverine and a de-powered Cyclops enter the World Dome, that place in London where virulent anti-mutant factions speed time and breed biological anti-mutant weapons. They're looking for Weapon XV, who has already gotten out and then wandered back in, trying to make sense of his changed world. Time inside the dome, btw, has conveniently been frozen, but just like in a videogame our heroes can still move about.

Comments:
Cyclops is having a crisis on this mission, and apparently it's going to take till next issue to resolve it. After the snafu at the mansion with Jean and Emma, Scott can no longer keep it up; he's got a case of power interruptus, ie his optic blast is on the fritz. He seems rather emotionally muted (not just repressed, as usual) and unconcerned about it, and in fact evinces surprising loyalty to Wolverine, defending him against Fantomex's attempts at manipulation. Nice to see Scott has progressed so far from his long-held dislike of Logan.

Fantomex of course will be the big problem for many in this arc, an interloper who commands far too much style and respect from Morrison (and who starred in perhaps the weakest arc of his run, the memorable but brutally paced Weapon XII story). But I think he's a great, mad sort of catalyst, and hardly so infallible as to be perfect. So he keeps his nervous system outside of his body in E.V.A, the sentient space-ship that grew out of his tongue. Who doesn't? His distaff non-human other half is neat idea, too!

Weapon XV looks a bit like Prometheus, the foe Morrison designed to (briefly) take down the JLA. He's ridiculously powerful (just as Weapon XII was), but if anything even more detached than Scott from the present situation. He's trying to figure out what's real and what isn't. AIM's meddling ruined the illusion of the World last issue (and bravo to Morrison for dusting them off; the use of established concepts like SHIELD, Hydra or AIM adds to the verisimilitude of the Marvel Universe). He is curiously almost an innocent, a lost soul searching for answers, and thus another parallel for Scott, Logan and even perhaps Fantomex on this journey of lost boys.

Bachalo does a great job this issue (better than last, actually, as far as storytelling and flow), especially on the almost Silver-Age goofy "car-cops" (yes, they're more or less robo-whales) and on the possibly insane Weapon XV. We see him standing majestically alone and indifferently in battle with Wolverine.

Bachalo adds complicated backgrounds, scenic vistas and even actual facial expressions this month, and the arc promises to look very cohesive when it's done. Not that I know what will happen next, except maybe Scott getting it together. Morrison's characteristic move is to make everything look as bleak as possible for the defeated heroes, and then pull off a hat-trick of a last-ditch effort in the subsequent issue, turning the tables from out of left field. For all we know, Weapon XIV is all daisies and happiness and can turn off Weapon XV with a smile.



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