Tag Archives: Grant Morrison

How To Fix: The X-Men

This column is intended to be the first of many “How To Fix” topics. That said, it is my solemn vow that I will only cover topics that I feel I know enough about to fully grasp (meaning it will mostly be about comics) and can make cohesive arguments on. The first topic in this series will be The X-Men. Though the X-Men are one of the top selling concepts in all of comic book fiction, they have (and have had) many flaws that hinder the concept in reaching its full potential. It is because of this that I have taken the liberty of summarizing the 5 biggest problems in X-Men lore.

5. Time Travel- While I can’t criticize the tendency of X-Men writers to experiment with stories of a mutant future, I do take issue when characters arrive from the future. The concept of a paramilitary group of political activists defending the public from terrorism is strong enough to carry any series forever. Changes of location, specific threat and political relevance are you really need to keep the plot moving. While characters like Cable and Bishop have had interesting storylines over the years (i.e. Soldier X and District X respectively), they seem to do better when pulled out of direct contact with the prime X teams. While I am rarely supportive of removing characters from the ever expanding stories of either major Comic Book universe, I think these characters should be relocated to their own little corners of the Marvel U.

4. Space- Ahhh, the Shi’Ar, never has a race of bird people from outer space tortured a group of genetic freaks more. More so, without the Shi’Ar we would have never known that Cyclops’ father was an intergalactic space pirate. That is reason enough for the Shi’Ar to never have existed. Quite frankly (Frank Quitely), Grant Morrison did the right thing in his New X-Men by taking the time to write a story in which the Shi’Ar could be removed from X-Men stories without removing them from continuity. Out there in space, the Shi’Ar could have fowled it up (get it, fowl, they’re bird people) to their heart’s content with Drax and Nova. That was until Ed Brubaker brought them back, a move I will never understand. As with the time travelers, these aliens can be interesting but ultimately serve little purpose in perfecting the X-Men concept.

3. Storm- I love comic books, and with rare exception, I believe that most characters serve a genuine philosophical role in their stories. Storm is one of those rare exceptions. If Magneto pushes the boundaries on how powerful a mutant can be, Storm smashes and pisses on them. Storm can control all weather. ALL WEATHER. I don’t care if she’s afraid of being trapped in a box, she rarely is and because of that she should be essentially unstoppable. If Storm is on the X-Men, it basically means that no one short of a celestial would ever go near Xavier’s School, eliminating the types of stories that should be found in an X book. It seems that many writers have shared this opinion and have tried to either move Storm a bit outside of the normal stories or even de-power her. I support the prior, but even that has not been too successful.

2. M-Day- The words “No More Mutants” still ring through my ears. In House of  M, Brian Bendis decided that there were too many mutants running around the Marvel U., and that removing them would make X-Men comics more interesting. He was completely wrong. The entire concept of X-Men relies on the fact that the births of mutants are on the rise throughout the world. By limiting the amount of living mutants to just under 200, you create a population that would not even be recognized in a world where radio-active spider men and super soldiers run around the streets everyday. It completely undermines all of the political aspects of the book since that few would even bother to persecute them. Even with a few thousand mutants in the world, very few humans would have direct contact with any powered being. Not only that, but some of the de-powered mutants like The Blob and Jubilee were popular and useful characters to the basic storyline. While I often disagree with other readers, I acknowledge that you are constantly playing with sacred material if you are writing a long running comic. Making such a sweeping decision can backfire easily. While the more politicized X-Men was made clear to work in New X-Men, something like this was a sweeping change that simply had no footing in the series history.

1. The X-Men are not Superheroes- Okay, some of you are pissed off now, so let me get this out of the way. The X-Men should not wear spandex or have frequent team ups. The X-Men are a politically motivated, paramilitary group who intimidate their opposition. X-Men stories should always be played off the fact that though we, the readers, know that the X-Men are good and would go to great lengths to save both mutants and humans, the public in the Marvel U. sees them as a group of radicals who have the resources to wage war on society. The fear part of “feared and hated” is justified. Let me remind you who some of the X-Men are. They are led by a psychic who has created a computer to monitor all of his race’s activity. Under him is his greatest disciple who cannot control his ability to blow holes in mountains, an immortal soldier with 12” blades that pop out of his hands, another powerful psychic who occasionally goes insane, a guy who looks like the devil and can disappear at will, a giant ex-terrorist who has metal skin and a girl who can take all of your energy. That’s just 7 of them. I admit that I did like Whedon’s take on this topic, that The X-Men fake being superheroes to gain public support, but I don’t think it’s the best way to go. I am patiently awaiting the day that I look at a cover and see the X-Men once again dressed in black leather jackets on their way to smash some terrorist plot and to never be recognized for it.



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Letters to the Internet

Dear Chaos Collage,

I’m so sorry I have neglected you for this long, but I simply could not find the time to write between my job, the fiction piece I am currently working on and the four hours of Street Fighter IV I play per day. Since we have so much to talk about I will do my best to keep this entry well organized and to the point, much like the wonderful entertainment section in my local newspaper.

I. Television

With Batman: The Brave and The Bold on mid season hiatus and new episodes of Battlestar Galactica a thing of the past, I have not been paying much attention to episodic fiction recently. What I have been watching (aside from wrestling) is the wonderful “reality” based programming on Spike TV. This includes such shows as Vice Cops Uncut (which is of course very cut), DEA and the new king of Discovery Channel style investigation, Deadliest Warrior. What historical investigation could be more satisfying than one focused on how adept different warriors from different eras would be at killing each other. Have you ever wondered how a Viking would fair against a Samurai? Me too! Finally, we have a resource to find out! What a relief.

II. Movies

…So, Drag Me to Hell comes out in May. Okay, so we aren’t in 2008 anymore and things have slowed down. I guess that writer’s strike finally hit cinemas. The aggravatingly disappointing Watchmen came as quite a downer, probably the first film I was truly disappointed with since before the release of Iron Man. Aside from a couple of decent comedies, it looks like things won’t be picking back up until the edge of June with Sam Raimi’s return to horror Drag Me To Hell. From there we have numerous films to look forward to such as Michael Mann’s Public Enemies, JJ Abrams’ Star Trek and Quentin Tarantino’s long awaited Inglorious Basterds (I know how to spell, that’s just the name of the movie). With these films on the horizon and promises of Iron Man II, Green Lantern and Stallone’s The Expendables for 2010, I’m sure we can make it through The Revenge of the Fallen and The Rise of Cobra. In order to keep hope alive, I will provide a trailer to watch and enjoy.

III. Those Comic Books that rot your brain and/or turn you into a Commie.

Bruce Wayne is gone and it is all Grant Morrison’s fault. He’s not dead though, just gone for the time being. I will not spoil  his replacement for the following reasons A) I think this story will be better if its integrity is kept intact and B) I have no idea who his replacement will be. What I do know, without ruining it for the TPB crowd, is it seems like it won’t be Tim. On the other side of the DCU, the lead-up to Blackest Night is picking up and boy does it look like its going to be good. Geoff Johns’ events lack the rarely deserved self importance of Mark Millar’s or the progressively less satisfying introspection of Bendis’ big story work. Both Morrison and Johns posses the rare ability to not only create inventive plots for beloved characters, but to distill what made us love them in the first place. It is this difference that has defined the best of DC in recent months. That said, Marvel has perhaps the 3rd best writer for this, Ed Brubaker. Both Daredevil and Captain America have rarely missed a beat since his run began and the stories are far from small.  On the Mighty Marvel side, Norman Osborn has taken control of the United States and things are not pretty. I mean this in both a philosophical and editorial sense. Yes, great books that deal directly with the issue are coming out (Thunderbolts being the strongest at the moment, though I have a soft spot for the in-continuity Punisher) but there are way too many stunt books or books that are becoming stunt books (Bad Avengers, sorry I meant Dark Avengers, Mighty Avengers, New Avengers, Avengers: The Initiative, Dead Avengers, X-Avengers, Bad X-Avengers, X-Forcevengers, The Secret Avenger-Defenders, The Force Works Avengers, Two-Gun Kid and His Westvengers, Iron Man and The Reb-Bot Avengers, Rick Jones’ Rockin Avengers and of course Kevin Smith’s Late Avengers Annual). Okay, I made most of those up, but you get my point. Yes, events are made to be exploited but when you can’t even keep continuity between books referring to the same events, you really need to slow down. Take that sales department! On a happier note, all three of the IDW GI Joe books are a lot of fun and should counter act the damage the upcoming film may do to my brain. Dynamite’s current licensed properties and Ennis’ The Boys are still kicking monthly.

IV. Rasslin’

WWE’s Wrestlemania was worse than the next night’s Raw, TNA is a joke and ROH appears to be rotting from the inside. I unfortunately have very little to say aside from that. I am seriously disappointed in both the E and TNA’s inability to create great product with fantastic rosters. In happier news, it looks like there will be a new Hart Foundation on ECW.

V. Music

Typically I isolate an aspect of music or the music industry through an artistic lens, but for this entry I figured being more practical would be better. What I would like to note is the amazing amount and quality of live music hitting the New York/ New Jersey Area in the next few months. Aside from the big guns like Bruce Springsteen and Elvis Costello hitting the road, the area (which is the home of both writers on this blog) will also be hosting such acts as Jenny Lewis (Music Hall of Williamsburg, June 9th), The Get Up Kids (Blender Theater, May 1st) on their reunion tour and hometown boys done good, The Hold Steady (Bowery Ballroom, June 8th & 9th-Music Hall of Williamsburg, June 10th and 11th). Even Green Day will be playing a theater show this spring (no, I don’t know when and I can’t get you tickets). In addition to these exciting travelin’ troubadours, local act The Neutron Drivers will be hitting the Big Apple’s famed Knitting Factory on April 30th. I hear there’s even a free sandwich and cheap beer for the die-hard early crowd.

Well, that’s it for now. Hopefully I will come up with some amazing insight for my next piece.



Vinny’s Unrelated Video Post of the Week!

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