Writer: Greg Pak
Artist: Tyler Kirkham
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Aside from Joss Whedon, only one writer currently employed at Marvel has made any attempt to follow up on Grant Morrison's New X-Men, and that's Greg Pak. His previous Phoenix miniseries, Endsong, was an excellent fusion of Morrison and early Claremont interpretations of Jean Grey and her cosmic alter ego; now Pak is set to continue the story of the Phoenix, with the enigmatic Stepford Cuckoos in the spotlight.
The Cuckoos are an odd bunch. Like most of the student body at the time, they're more a high concept than actual characters. And yet, while their contemporaries have vanished into the ether (Beak, Angel, Martha), the Cuckoos have become rather prolific supporting characters, appearing in stories by Chris Claremont, Peter Milligan, Joss Whedon, Craig Kyle and Christopher Yost and Mark Millar, among others. However, despite their apparent popularity, no one seemed willing to deal with the big mysteries: who are they? Where did they come from? What do they really want?
Those questions stand to be answered now, as this issue kickstarts the Cuckoos' origin story within the larger narrative of the Phoenix's return. Pak makes an interesting creative choice here by sourcing Warsong in the Morrison run - John Sublime, the World, Esme and Sophie, and the concept of a Jean-less Phoenix were all concepts featured in New X-Men that were discarded after the Reload of 2004. This creates an interesting problem for the readers; fans of Morrison's work (like myself) will probably be pleased with how Pak handles those discarded elements, but many find their memory in need of refreshing, since Pak's going on the assumption that everyone remembers the Weapon Plus program and Ultimaton and the Cuckoos referring to themselves as Weapon XIV at the end of "Here Comes Tomorrow." For those of you who weren't interested in this stuff the first time around, these aren't the droids you're looking for. Move along.
Personally, I like what Pak's doing here; the Phoenix has always been more interesting as a plot device than as an actual character, and here it's being used to unearth the truth about the Stepford Cuckoos. In fairness, Morrison dropped plenty of hints in his time, but the explicit revelations are long overdue. Warsong may not have the deeply personal tone of Endsong, but it's making good use of peripheral X-characters and interesting past stories.
What did you think of this book?
Have your say at the Line of Fire Forum!