Writer: Grant Morrison
Artists: Phil Jimenez (p), Andy Lanning (i)
Publisher: Marvel Comics
The book opens in the mind of the White Queen as we see Jean has arrived to discover Scott & Emma involved in a rather compromising situation. As Scott finds himself boot back into the outside world, we see Emma finds herself facing the wrath of Jean who clearly blames her for Scott's indiscretions. To this end we see Emma telepathic abilities are no match for Jean, and she finds herself dragged along as Jean takes a walk through her memories. The first stop is at Emma's childhood home, where we see a young Emma turns down her father's attempt to make her the sole heir of his considerable fortune, in spite of her having three other siblings. We then see Emma struck out on her own, and using her telepathic abilities she was able to fashion a pretty easy life for herself within the Hellfire Club. We then see Jean starts to go for the more hurtful memories, as Emma is confronted by the mutilated bodies of the Hellions, before Jean looks in on the night in China where Emma looked to have spent the night in Scott's room. However, when we see that Scott spurned Emma's advances, Jean becomes upset because Scott was thinking of cheating on her. As the book ends we see Scott has run off again, while Emma looks to have come to a rather shocking end.
I have to say that Grant Morrison deserves full marks for managing to turn the tables during the confrontation between Emma & Jean, as going in one would expect Emma was deserving of everything she had coming to her. However as this issue moved along it is Jean who slowly starts to become the villain in this encounter, as we learn that nothing happen between Scott & Emma (at least, not in the physical sense), and Jean is upset because the two thought of having an affair. Now I doubt you would find many husbands & wives, no matter how happily married they might be, haven't fantasized about being with someone other than their spouse while they were married. There's also the question of why isn't Jean more angry with Scott, as he's the one who has breached the trust the two shared. I mean yes one can be annoyed at Emma for pressing the issue & trying to tempt Scott away from her, but the simple fact of the matter is that Scott is the one who invited Emma in, and he's the one who was supposed to end it before it crossed the line. In any event in the end I walked away from this issue respecting Emma more than I had, and harboring a dislike of Jean's bully mentality. Scott didn't help his case by running away once again.
The issue also takes us on a tour of Emma's past, and while my collection includes most of her various appearances (though I did stop collection Generation X after Chris Bachalo's departure), I must confess most of this information is relatively new to me. I didn't know that Emma was a self made woman, and that she had turned down her family fortune in favor of building her own. I didn't know that she had two sisters, and that one would have reason to harbor a strong dislike of her, or that her only brother is locked away in an insane asylum. There's also some nice work on the scene where Emma is confronted by the images of her Hellions, and this is the moment where I truly began to despise what Jean was doing. I also have to say that it's about time that Emma's feeling about the Hellions were explored, as it was never really touched upon in the pages of Generation X (at least not in the issues I read), and much like the massacre of the Morlocks, the death of the Hellions was an idea that was quickly swept under the rug after it had played out, and as a New Mutants fan I always felt the group deserved better. This issue also offers up a very impressive scene between Emma & Logan, whose own infatuation with Jean made for an interesting linkage between these two.
Phil Jimenez looks to be this book's new guest-artist, and if nothing else I can draw comfort from the idea that Phil Jimenez has shown he's capable of delivering close to twelve issues in a calendar year, which mean Frank Quitely can continue along with his four-five issues a year pace, and revolving door of artists need not be a regular part of this book. It also doesn't hurt that Phil Jimenez is one of the few artists working today who is able to surpass the level of detail that Frank Quitely puts on the page, and he's also worked with Grant Morrison in the past, so we know he's capable of delivering the more surreal aspects of the story. This issue offers up some fairly impressive visuals to reinforce the idea that he's a good fit for these pages, as one has to love the design sense of Emma's office, and the truly frightening shot of Jean as she manifests the Phoenix force. There's also the nightmarish shot of that Emma is forced to face as Jean brings up the Hellions, and the last page of this issue is also a great reveal shot, that gets this arc off to an explosive start. There's also some fun little details, like the idea that the X-Mansion still bears signs of its recent riot, and the shot of the slain Hellions does a wonderful job of detailing the characters who were part of that group.
One has to love a book that is able to twist things around like this issue managed to pull off, as Emma ends up as the more sympathetic character in this issue, while Jean & Scott come across rather poorly. Now the book doesn't hide the fact that Emma was trying to seduce Scott, but it also takes Jean's retaliation to a point where Emma's questionable behavior looks rather tame by comparison. This issue also smartly plays up Wolverine's feelings for Jean, there is a whole calling the kettle black comparison to the idea that Jean is upset because Scott thought about cheating on her. In any event this is an emotionally intense issue, that manages to offer up some strong insight into Emma's past, and the last page also delivers a truly impressive shocker, that is sure the create a firestorm of activity around the X-Mansion. The simple truth of the matter is that Scott & Jean's relationship needed to be shaken up, and this issue certainly accomplishes this.
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