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New X-Men #148

Posted: Friday, October 17, 2003
By: Shawn Hill



"Planet X 3: Survivor Type"

Writer: Grant Morrison
Artists: Jiminez and Lanning

Publisher: Marvel

Plot:
A more detailed look at Magneto, his plans, and the dissent stirring in his troops. Meanwhile, Logan and Jean plunge towards certain death as their powerless asteroid heads straight for the sun.

Comments:
This is a deeper and more insightful look at last issues' one-sided view of Magneto destroying New York. Oh, the destruction is ongoing (and mass exterminations are next on his whacked agenda for "New Genosha"), but the hints of conflict among his untried allies are becoming loud and clear. Esme is hardly the second-in-command she imagines herself to be, and poor Ernst is still longing for the illusory Xorn. Strangely, it's the Toad (of all people) who is just about the only member of Team Evil actually making sense. Not that anyone else is paying attention. They're all too lost in their own limitations.

Barnell has a completely understandable big gulp moment when Magneto determines to make a man of him. Angel remains uncharacteristically mute (as does Martha, who usually has at least one telling comment percolating in that active mind), and, oh yes, Professor Xavier is awake. Restrained and probably sedated but awake. You can see in his eyes how he scoffs at Erik's silly pronouncements, powerless or not.

The movie's lasting influence (at least on Phil Jiminez) is evident, as his Wolverine is the sexiest, most virile version of the berserker hunk ever. Hugh Jackman's lusty, sensitive interpretation of Logan has done the character nothing but good. This hirsute hunk oozes sexual chemistry with Jean Grey, even as they both struggle to survive with limited oxygen and growing heat.

In an interesting comment on the overlong Scott vs. Weapon X arc, Jean notes the gaping hulk of Weapon XV's corpse, and Wolvie explains when and why he eliminated him. Not exactly how, except to say that the far superior iteration of the Weapon X program let his guard down enough for Wolvie to "gut" him.

In turn, Jean tries to explain the Phoenix force, but it's all teasing hints and cosmic mishmash, as always. Still, that final image (an echo of page one, where we see the asteroid like a dark blot dwarfed by the burning white sun) is awe-inspiring, as Wolverine and Jean face death with the intimate bond of their friendship intact. The emotional impact of this issue builds page-by-page, inexorably. Morrison recalls the best of Claremont's work on these characters (down to echoes of a shocking scene from years ago between Logan and Rachel), without ever over-verbalizing or narrating what we can clearly see.

Too bad there's no Beast as the cover implies, but I'm assuming Scott, Emma and Hank have roles left to play in this darkening, intensifying and openly savage arc. Morrison's achievement, more than perhaps anyone else who has taken on Marvel's mutants, is to show our heroes as victims. Not whiners, mind you, but sufferers on an epic scale. Not just from each other, and not just from prejudiced humans, but of their own powers, of the implications inherent in their own particular gifts and burdens. This issue, more than even the horrors in "Ambient Magnetic Fields" or in Cassandra Nova's ruthless first arc, builds to the level of compelling tragedy.



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