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204: Morrison's New X-Men Kickoff (E is for Extinction)

What’s Covered?

New X-Men # 114 - 116

Roster Watch

Now let's look at a few ways Morrion and Quietly introduced the team roster. They are almost doing exactly what I try to do...


New X-Men # 214

Writer - Grant Morrison

Pencils - Frank Quietly

We start out by seeing Cyclops and Wolverine save a new character, Ugly John, from an attacking Sentinel. They are bringing him back from Australia to help keep him safe.

Back at the mansion, Jean and Beast are helping Xavier set up his next iteration of Cerebro, cleverly named "Cerebra." Cerebra functions much more similarly to the 2001 Fox X-Men movie (more on that later).

east and Wolverine comment on how often they hear Jean and Scott fighting. He's changed since coming back from the time when Apocalypse possessed him and Jean is struggling with it.

After Sage's "genetic jumpstart" from the first X-Treme X-Men arc, Beast's "secondary mutation" was triggered, making him even more feline than before (More on secondary mutations in the "My Connections section.")

A brand new villain is introduced in the form of Cassandra Nova. At first we see her with Bollivar Trask's nephew, Donald Trask (a dentist), trying to convince him that humans are dying out and will be replaced by mutants unless they act.

Cassandra Nova, continuing to show that she is the next big villain, attempts to take over Charles Xavier's mind, but he only keeps her at bay by threatening to kill himself (via a gun he keeps in his wheelchair).

Nova introduces a New Master Mold, who is working autonomously but can be controlled by members of the Trask family. Nova is trying to convince Trask to commit genocide against the mutant race.

New X-Men # 215

Writer - Grant Morrison

Pencils - Frank Quietly

It turns out that Nova was only keeping the dentist Donald Trask around until she could gruesomely take over his DNA to control the Master Mold.

Wolverine, Cyclops and Ugly John head to South America and end up in a losing fight with Master Mold and his Sentinels.

Nova captures Wolverine and Ugly John, torturing the latter to an inch on his life.

In a SHOCKING move, Cyclops decides to put Ugly John out of his misery by firing his optic blasts into his face. Brutal! (I'll talk more about Scott's character changes in the Characters section below).

Cyke and Wolverine are too late as the Sentinels are on their way to the largest gathering of mutants on the planet, Genosha (16 million mutants).

Emma Frost is teaching in Genosha when a gothed out NegaSonicTeenageWarhead predicts a calymity coming.

The Sentinels are out to destroy Genosha as seen in this terrifying Times Square-esqu attack. Magneto is unable to protect the citizens since he was left in a Wheelchair following Wolverine stabbing him through the spine during Eve of Destruction.

Scary shit...

Xavier can feel 16 million mutant lives exterminated in 1 hour.

New x-Men # 216

Writer - Grant Morrison

Pencils - Frank Quietly

It turns out that the only survivor was Emma Frost, who seemed to survive due to her skin going hard as a diamond (more on that later).

 Emma comes out of the cave in holding the body of Negasonic Teenage Warhead. This is the original Goth psychic, not the bald character from Deadpool.

Charles is beside himself hearing that so many mutants were killed and that there is officially a genetic war...or genetic genocide. We also learn that Magneto was killed, however I'll eat my costume if we truly haven't seen the last of him.

Following up from last issue, we learn that Wolverine slashed Cassandra Nova's vocal chords and they are holding her in stasis so they can learn why this happened.

Emma (and the audience) learn that her body turned to diamond as part of her secondary mutation (more on that below).

Emma is just fabulous.

I'll get into this more later, but we learn that there is a new dynamic where humans are dying out, on their way to being replaced by mutants.

Cassandra Nova blasts out of confinement and starts dominating the X-Men.

She tears Wolverine apart with a thought.

Her goal all along was to reach Cerebra, and here she does...

Until Emma, who had previously made us think she was leaving the mansion, comes back intime to snap her neck.

As Nova starts to stitch herself back together, Xavier uses Chekhov's gun to shoot her, leaving her seamingly dead.

My Connections and Creators

Major Tonal Shift

When I was reading comics in the early ninety's era, Fabian Nicieza said in an interview that he was proud of keeping X-Force on the same path that Rob Leifeld intended. I remember not understanding that because I saw a lot of unique things that Nicieza did. Then I kept reading past Nicieza and saw things like Cable leaving the comic, going on a road trip, and even the beginning of X-Statix. I now know what he meant. I'm bringing that up here because I've heard for a long time that New X-Men completely changed up the X-Men in the best way possible. I read X-Treme X-Men first and I've been thinking "Ok, this is a change. They are international, there is a new character and a new villain." Then I read New X-Men. And now I get it. THIS is what it means to re-invent the X-Men. This is how you take the best of the X-Men and modernize the concept, taking it in brand new directions. exceptional!

The first major tonal shift is this new dynamic that there has been a massive increase in the mutant population, causing the end of the human population.

This is a huge development because humans have always been afraid of mutants, but now humans were literally going extinct and have a reason to be scared. Also, the massive increase in the mutant population clears the tracks for Morrison to introduce a lot of new characters, which he does in the form of a bustling student population.

Another major tonal shift comes when Xavier tells the world he is a mutant. Professor Xavier and the X-Men have always, always lived in the shadows. Now they are out in front of the media and even have picketers and protestors outside the campus. Crazy new dynamic!

I'm not done. There's also the new idea of secondary mutations. We see this in Beast going even more feral and Emma gaining the ability to turn into a diamond form. This is a very creative way to change the dynamic for characters we've known for decades. I still need to see what else Morrison has in mind for this particular dynamic, but so far he's earned my trust that this is going somewhere good.

Oh, and there's that whole Genoshan genocide. We're playing for keeps now, boys (and 5 girl readers)!

No More Comics Code? 

Another major shift is that Marvel seemed to move away from the Comics Code for Mr. Morrison. Remember when blood wasn't allowed to be red? Now look at what we have:

In addition, swearing has now become ok. They don't actually write the words out, but I don't believe I had ever seen a swear word used prior to this run. This isn't just a New X-Men thing because Uncanny X-Men starts using swears, showing more blood, and gets a lot more sexually suggestive.

Showing not telling

Another big shift in storytelling comes from the modern approach of letting the imagery do more story telling than words. We know Claremont is known for dialogue that can take up more space than images, but an approach of "showing, not telling" is used, which I appreciate.

The Art

I'm not going to lie, I had seen samples of this art for quite some time and I suspected that I wouldn't like New X-Men since the art is so atypical. Even though the art isn't for me, it doesn't take away from the storytelling at all in my opinion.

2001 X-Men Movie Comps

2001 is when the Blockbuster X-Men movie hit theatres and it's clear that Morrison is trying to have the comic match closer to the live action representations.

The first key example is the uniforms.

Prof X had the team switch to black leather to help them fit in. X wants to help make the world feel more comfortable with the explosion of mutants. It was controversial for the movie not to use the costumes and I wish the comic didn't cave, but I can live with it.

The core characters are mostly back to the basics, however I'm happy Emma has become a fixture even though she wasn't in the movie.

The last example has to do with Cerebro, now called "Cerebra." Look at the imagery of Xavier looking at people:

We've never seen Cerebro visualized before as people in a room being able to see what he sees, which is flashes of lights on a map. This is clearly an inspiration from the movie.

The other imagery taken from the movies is Cerebro residing within a large, separate chamber:



This version of Scott Sumers is more distant, less idealistic. He's a changed man since coming back from the Apocalypse possession, as detailed here by Jean:

His core values have changed:

The biggest character dynamic shift comes when Scott slaughters Ugly John to put him out of his misery. The old Cyclops would never mercy kill an innocent. And the comics code would never let it be shown either.

I'll be tracking Cyclops' struggle with his baggage throughout this run. And I have to be honest, there is a chance this may help me like him.


Jean is definitely more self assured, which is great. Jean is possibly the most powerful mutant on the team, she's beautiful, she's closest with Xavier, she's married to the team leader, yet she's been hiding in the background as a secondary character since the Dark Phoenix saga. I'm happy to see her spreading her wings, quite literally in some panels.

As Scott becomes more withdrawn (than usual), a central theme is that the Summer-Grey marriage is in some serious trouble.

Even thought Wolverine keeps saying things like "we're not right for each other," these two have kissed twice in the last few months (of publishing).


To put it quite simply, Emmis is even more fantastic. Here's a few fun samples:

Her fabulousness reminds me of how Fabian Nicieza struggled to make Deadpool sound cool in Deadpool Volume 1. I recall thinking "I guess he's just not as cool in the comics compared to the movies." But then I read Deadpool Volume 2 and I realized that you just needed Mark Waid to unlock the hilariousness and edginess of the character. That's how I feel here. Lobdell had tried to capture her sassiness in Generation X, but it was kind of lame. Here, she's just fabulous.

It's also worth mentioning that she has gone through ANOTHER massacre of her students as she was in Genosha teaching when the country was wiped out. Considering her guilt over the loss of the Hellions was a major theme in Generation X, I'm surprised this hasn't received any attention yet in this run. I noticed it though and I'll be waiting to track it here in the characters section if/when it pops up in the future.

The final character change for her is the secondary mutation:

Professor X

Professor Xavier actually looks old. That's my biggest observation. I always thought it was weird in the Claremont era when he would be playing basketball and working out. In this run he is drawn like a wrinkled old man and that feels more right.

He's also still a dick, but maybe more understood. I'll be tracking this. OMG, can Morrison be the chosen one to make me start liking Cyclops AND Xavier. Let's not get ahead of ourselves.


Beast is struggling with his new mutation. He's really worried about becoming even more feral and less academic. Other than that, I didn't get a whole lot more from him yet.


Wolverine certainly looks different, but I haven't seen much about his character that seems too different than how he was utilized in the past. If anything seems different, it's that this is the first comic that doesn't bend over backwards to put him front and center, even though this is a team with only 5 team members. I'll be tracking Wolverine as I keep reading.

My Rating- 10 out of fucking 10


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