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New X-Men #154

Posted: Friday, March 19, 2004
By: Shawn Hill



“Here Comes Tomorrow conclusion: Rescue … and Emergency”

Writer: Grant Morrison
Artists: Marc Silvestri (p), Joe Weems (i)

Publisher: Marvel

Plot:
The finale of Morrison’s take on the alternate dystopian future (a trope that every X-men scribe must eventually face). Also, Jean Grey is an eternal cosmic being. But an awfully nice one.

Comment:
Your enjoyment of this concluding chapter depends on whether or not you’ve made an emotional connection with Morrison’s virtual future X-men. Silvestri comes up with a gorgeous “meet the team” cover, made poignant because it’s not their debut but their demise we read inside. Me, I knew I was hooked last issue when they deep-sixed the best character of the arc, Ex-Sentinel Rover and I howled (virtually) in protest.

So this endgame scenario worked for me, and it also allowed Morrison freer reign to work out some of his basic concerns from his entire run. Disembodied brain Martha gets more mileage out of her sparse commentary, while we see evidence of the heroic potential even in Xavier’s dark mummudrai, his distaff twin Cassandra. E.V.A., always intelligent, has evolved from helpful machine to quasi-mutant-humanoid, and Beak’s grandson Tito outshines his father in bravery, even earning Wolverine’s praise.

Tom Skylark remains a cipher who is “good with machines,” the Cuckoos are glossed over, and we see no more of the other future X-men who were all presumably murdered last issue. Instead, Logan, Martha and Cassandra manage to unite in talking Jean down from another of her mad Phoenix fugues. Three survivors are equal to one Scott, I guess. This is yet another allusion to past stories (remember when Storm, Colossus, Wolverine and Scott all tried to depower Dark Phoenix enough to slap a power inhibitor on her?), but as usual Morrison gives a totally different spin to the standard plot elements.
At which point, restored to herself, even after all has been lost, Jean fixes everything exactly like a god would. Oh, there’s something about Sublime being an out of control sentient bacteria, a very rushed sequence of how this dystopia came to be (mostly because everyone got depressed after Magneto and Jean were dead), but the real interest is in the cosmic community of multi-species peers that Jean, a “white Phoenix of the Crown,” finds herself among.

She doesn’t seem to really understand it, but she knows enough cut out the dystopia like a causal cancer and regrow a better future for her friends and lovers.

Silvestri excels here; upping the mystery and the sense of whimsy in this surreal Phoenix summit (they all wear the glorious unisex original “I am fire, and life incarnate!” Cockrum design), alluding to pivotal moments from Jean’s past like the M’krann Crystal (the first time she jump-started the universe). The promise of what might have been, had Morrison and Silvestri been fated to spend more time as a team, is thoroughly apparent in this visually stunning issue. Finally there’s some synergy between their divergent styles (and, for long-time readers, many allusions to the last time Silvestri led a tour through Jean’s psyche, as Madelyn Prior died at the end of the Goblin Queen saga). His rather pronounced tendency towards symmetry doesn’t impede Morrison’s view askew concepts, and his work on emotional expression at pivotal moments is greatly improved over previous issues.

Goodbye, Grant. Thanks for the ride.



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