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New X-Men #149

Posted: Monday, December 1, 2003
By: Shawn Hill



"Planet X part 4 of 5: Phoenix in Darkness"

Writer: Grant Morrison
Artists: Phil Jiminez (p), Andy Lanning (i)

Plot:
In an irony totally lost on himself, Magneto has become the image of the Nazi murderers he so hates. His siege of New York has now progressed to mass executions of humans, and that's an act even the most nave of his students can't ignore. As his slip-shod brotherhood falls apart, other glints of hope show through Magneto's crumbling armor.

Comments:
Okay, Grant; now I get it. After an issue of role reversal (just post shedding of the Xorn identity) so pervasive as to seem unreal, and then a slightly deeper look into Magneto's madness and the certainly doomed fates of the rest of the X-men, we're finally falling down to Earth again. Here is where we realize (as we suspected all along) that Magneto, by the simple act of fooling and manipulating his students in the "Special Class," shattered whatever loyalty Xorn may have generated. They've been reeling from his surprise reveal just as we have been, and now as some of them get their bearing they realize they're not on board after all.

Beak makes as noble a stand as he can, actually, and is himself nearly executed for it. Basilisk says the wrong thing at the wrong time. Esme's little power-mad dreams are shattered once again (not that she notices), while Angel finally makes a connection that should have been obvious from the start. Even little Ernst has finally dealt with Xorn's demise, it seems, another irony as it's Eric himself who's most haunted by his assumed identity. I knew, just like Ernst, that Xorn was too complete, too assured a personality to really be only a mask. That Magneto, nearly killed in Genosha and on the run mentally ever since, should be losing it in this way feels entirely fitting, even well-deserved.

Cyclops and Fantomex, having survived their fall into the Pacific Ocean (we can only hope the same for Beast and Emma), show up just in time. But are Beak and the now Three-In-One and Sooraya enough to take Magneto down? Hardly. Having Scott as their leader certainly gives them a slight edge, but, methinks they won't even need it. Reports of Phoenix's death in the Sun may have been greatly exaggerated.

Jiminez outdoes himself this issue. His scenes of hapless humans falling from the sky are chilling, and his understanding of both Xorn and Charles is compelling. Chuckry's toned down his colors for this gloomy issue, another fitting touch. This is gonna make one lovely TPB when the arc is collected. While it's a shame ostensible Morrison-partner Quitely won't be around to wrap up the run like he began it, I can't think of better choices than Jiminez or Silvestri to take us out.



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