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New X-Men #153

Posted: Friday, February 20, 2004
By: Shawn Hill



“We All Have to Die Sometime: Here Comes Tomorrow 3 of 4”

Writer: Grant Morrison
Artist: Mark Silvestri

Publisher: Marvel

Plot:
A confused Phoenix follows her instincts as a scourge, but can’t get rid of some nagging doubts. The desperate last stand by the ragtag band of remaining mutants is under way, but the casualties begin to pile up in the face of ever-worsening odds.

Comments:
This issue is a much better read than the previous two, and I think I know why. Morrison has had time to build up our relationships to these characters, despite their newness. This is more than just his homage to the tradition of X-men dark futures; it’s his version of an ultimate end game. He knows he can’t play it out with the main crew (despite offing Magneto), as he has to leave enough shiny toys in the box for the next player. So instead he takes everything he’s imagined about the mutant-human conflict, all his fears, nightmares and fantasies about the impact of the X-gene on the mutantverse, everything he’s hinted at in his reconfiguration of the X-world, and--

--jumps forward 150 years with mostly all-knew characters whom he can destroy at will. This is the real Apokolips, unfolding right before our eyes. And damn if we don’t care after all. When Rover, the robot who loved a boy, dies a noble, tragic and grandiose death, it has a powerful impact that’s entirely fitting to both character and story. That’s pretty impressive when all Morrison had to work with was two previous issues and a 3-word vocabulary.

In this world, armies of mutants have more or less organized along power lines (shades of Austen and his weird belief that like mutants would want to hang together?), with batteries of telepaths and bruisers and flyers doing their best to fight off the multi-powered beasties and Crawlers that Sublime keeps brewing up. His fantasy of genetic purity depends on wiping out messy random natural mutation, which is a nice echo of a theme from way back in the Thomas/Adams days. They sent a batch of Sentinels heading off into the sun on a hopeless quest to stamp out the source of all mutation, which looks like charming naiveté to this vile crew.

In Morrison’s dystopia, the one remaining Sentinel has converted to aiding the mutants, as if too horrified to go on otherwise. Morrison clearly celebrates the diversity Sublime is (has always been) threatened by, and thus showers us with a kaleidoscope of magical mutant moments. A green-haired be-winged angel. Tito (one of Beak’s more kick-ass descendants) employing an emblematic fastball special with a still fearsome Wolverine. Jean showing up in a variation of her Goblin Queen getup. Old bats Cassandra and Martha reminiscing about old friends and surrealist painting. That last reference, to an image called “Europe After the Rain” is the key to this entire story. Like many of his compatriots before him in the field of science fiction, Morrison is enacting his own nightmare of a fallen empire, caught in the death-throes of decline.



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