Friday, December 08, 2006

Planet X: Conclusion (Marvel comics)
New X-Men #150 When: February 2004
Why: Grant Morrison How: Phil Jimenez

The story so far...
As a safe haven for gifted youngsters and adults alike, the X-Men welcome those in need with open arms, but sometimes this generosity comes with hazardous risk.

Having infiltrated the X-Men under the assumed identity of Xorn, Magneto reveals himself not as a beloved teacher, but rather as a drug-addicted man desperate to make his nightmarish vision a reality.

Under the influence of the power enhancing drug Kick, Magneto takes his old friend Charles Xavier prisoner along with several other misguided young X-Students, and proceeds to tear New York City asunder.
Has drug abuse pushed Magneto over the edge, or does the helmet that birthed his deception hide more secrets regarding the true identity of "Xorn"?

Previous Form:
Wolverine (#4): Wolverine joined the X-Men in the defeats of Nimrod and Magneto.
Professor X (#61): Professor X was instrumental in the defeat of Magneto.
Cyclops (#112): As team leader suffered defeat to Namor.
The X-Men: As a team the X-Men defeated a Hydra controlled Wolverine, Nimrod and Magneto.

Tale of the tape...
Strength: Beast 5 (Super Strength)
Intelligence: Beast 6 (Genius)
Speed: Beast 4 (Olympic Sprinter)
Stamina: Wolverine 6 (Generator)
Agility: Toad 5 (Cat-like)
Fighting Ability: Wolverine 6 (Warrior)
Energy Powers: Xorn 7 (Solar Power)

A fairly interesting crew of X-Men here, and an ill-defined threat in the form of Xorn. More on the controversy of the Xorn character in The Hammer section of the article, so for the time being, bare with the analysis as it is described here.

Xorn certainly possesses abilities here comparable of Magneto's own, which places him in a noteworthy class as a threat to the X-Men.
Playing the role of passificist, assessing the destructive or offensive capabilities of Xorn would be difficult prior to this occasion. For the most part his powers were used to manipulate characters in subversive ways, even using nanosentinel technology already in the X-Men's bloodstream to cast the illusion of healing on Charles Xavier's spine.

The necessity of the Kick drug and the characterization seen as Magneto suggest Xorn is perhaps not as limitless in his energy as the true Magneto has been seen to be. Other contemporary appearances, such as X-Men #25, have highlighted Magneto's abilities to draw upon the magnetic forces of the planet, possessing a rich well of mutant power.

Against forces like Professor X, Cyclops, Wolverine, Emma Frost, Phoenix and Fantomex, even Magneto has to stand up and notice.
With Xorn showing an unhinged personality, he starts to look like a bit of a chump. Particularly when considering this is Jean Grey heading straight back to cosmic town with the Phoenix force flowing through her veins.

There's certainly debate for this one to go several ways, and with the Kick drug allowing Xorn monumental capabilities (such as twisting bridges), the right shot could be the difference. That said, the level headed forces of the X-Men seem far too strong for such a renegade presence.

Unfortunatley Toad is not an equaliser.

Average: The X-Men 22 (+3)
Overall: The X-Men 176 (+119)
The Pick: The X-Men

What went down...
So, MagnaXorn is in his evil skyscraper lair in New York, which he has renamed New Genosha because he's a little bit crazy on drugs.
Humanity is not without hope, however, as a long X-Man has arrived. An animalistic X-Man. An X-Man of keen instinct. Sometimes described as a loner.
An X-Man named... Beak.

Wielding a metal bat... Not a great idea.
Much like Wolverine's metallic claw attack, the metal baseball bat is quickly turned to MagnaXorn's advantage as he tears it from Beak's dweeby little talon-claws.

Looming at the window, however, is salvation.
Atop the hovering EVA, Fantomex prepares to spring into action, breaking through the skyscraping icey glass of MagnaXorn's sinister tower -- and fires off round sof bullets that may or may not have some sort of obscure properties to them, allowing them to hit the target. Being shot at upsets him, and he demands Fantomex be destroyed. [Looking at you, Sean McKeever... Shyeah... - Mistaken Mike]

Esme, otherwise aiding MagnaXorn, objects to the prospect of being shot, so it's up to Toad to leap into the fray and put himself on the line. Which isn't such a good idea, because Fantomex makes no bones about shooting his knees off...

Of course, like all good things, Fantomex' rampage comes to an end.
MagnaXorn deflects his bullets, and wraps Weapon Thirteen up in bits of metal and trimmings from around his highrise citadellium. What he doesn't notice is that Fantomex' bullets pierce the glass tube that contains the helpless and tubed-up Professor X, beginning the draining of the freak brain neutralizing fluids inside.

While Fantomex gets wrapped up like a douche, another roamer in the night is picked out by Esme just before he uses his mega optic blast to explode through the floor. MagnaXorn is flung into the air by the crimson might of Cyclops.

Xorn falls back to Earth and Cyclops gives him a bitch slapping with all manner of emotionally charged punches.

Then, as if an ass whooping at the fists of Cyclops isn't bad enough, he decides to just pour optic salt into the wound by firing off a round at point blank range -- straight into the face of MagnaXorn!

The Magneto helmet is shattered, and Xorn is left a smoldering, burnt-up, facially disfigured and partially bald mess.

Furious and only briefly blinded, he uses the Xorn helmet as an unseen weapon, bringing it up behind Cyclops before driving it into the back of his skull, thus knocking the X-Men team leader out cold.

Becoming more and more unhinged, and dribbling confused ramblings that actually lend credence to the eventual decision that this was merely an impostor Magneto, MagnaXorn unleashes desperation.
As Esme threatens to psychically attack his exposed brains with "Alzheimer's in fast forward", MagnaXorn lashes out, ripping the earrings from the young girl's ears. Mangled and disfigured ears -- the kinda pain that renders a teenage girl unconscious.

Xorn again dons the... Xorn helmet... protecting himself once more from psychic attack, just as Emma Frost appears on the scene in diamond form.
She consoles Esme [as she dies], and reunites with the distant Cyclops who is preparing to begin a romance with her.

Using his amped up Kick powers, MagnaXorn begins seriously messing with time and space and gravity, which seriously messes with the enjoyment of humanity in the world. Thus, the X-Men run stalling maneuvers to give time for Phoenix to take care of business.

Then Beast comes flying out of nowhere, and generally starts punking the crap out of Magneto. He pounds down on him, delivering an neutralizing solution for the Kick, whilst expressing his disappointment, "I can't believe you'd do this, Xorn! You of all people, Xorn!"

Xorn whips the needles out and stabs Beast with them, which gives him an opportunity to call Wolverine into the fight.
Wolvie brandishes his claws all up in Xorn's grill, but that matters for naught as a Phoenixified Jean Grey enters the battle proper as more than a transport vehicle for people who've been lost at sea, or thrown into the sun.

Taunting manages to get the unhinged false-Magneto to remove his helmet in an attempt to prove his identity as the master of magnetisim, but this exposes him to mental attack from the recovered Professor Xavier.

Phoenix lingers over Magneto's seizing body, and he reaches a frail and weak hand to hers, and something happens to make Jean scream.
Having broken the concentration of his attackers, MagnaXorn reveals his treachery.

MagnaXorn dons his helmet once more... Only to be decapitated.

Xorn dies, Jean dies.
They'll both be back.

The hammer...
As you may have noticed, the winner of this match with the assist from various X-Men - Wolverine. Which almost made up for having his adamantium stripped in a previous entry.

I say almost, because as was mentioned in the Tape, we have a bit of a situation concerning the identity of Xorn. Most comic fans from the last couple of years will be well in-the-know, but for those who came in late, it lays out pretty simply like this:

Magneto gets killed in Genosha for the umpteenth time when Sentinels flatten the place. In Grant Morrison's New X-Men Magneto becomes firmly established as a Che Guevera style t-shirt icon, and an inspiration to disillusioned semi-retarded teen mutants worldwide.

In an incredible twist of fate the new mutant named Xorn turns out to be an elaborate ruse by Magneto to infiltrate Xavier's school, and generally cause problems and lead children astray whilst taking drugs.

The drgs increase his powers and we arrive at the issue reviewed here, where Wolverine unceremoniously cuts his freaking head off. Four more issues to go and then Morrison leaves the book, and returns to DC where he has clearly been better nurtured and embraced by his own standards.

Marvel clearly had some issues with Morrison's ground breaking X-Men, which reinvigorated the franchise. Obviously as a franchise, the viability of killing off Magneto seemed unlikely, and likewise they enjoyed Xorn as a character... So the solution was to immediatel reorder the house of X by revealing Magneto was actualy hiding out on Genosha recovering (a redeemable Holocaust survivor once more) -- and drugged up, headless Magneto was an impostor.

I'm going to come clean, there were some serious lapses of concentration here, and that's largely due to the fact that what started out like a good idea for an entry, kinda drove me a little batty.

It gets messy beyond this issue, and after some vague attempts from Chris Claremont and Chuck Austen, and some unfortunately vivid delivery from Brian "I should stick to street solo characters" Bendis -- Xorn becomes his own character.
Well, his own character and a brother...

Beyond the farce and well on the safe side of a paying job, Morrison has said his intentions were for the character were exactly what he delivered: Magneto's last hurrah, fucking up New York City.
But we here at Secret Earths are bound by canon as tightly as possible.
So as cathartic as it may have been, sorry Wolvie. Wrong head.

A lot of people seem to talk about their 'period away from comics,' and usually it comes across as super-poseable bullshit, and an excuse to talk about how Blankets or something else flavoursome 'brought you back to comics.'

I'm not going to say I ever left comics. I've read them my entire life, but for a while there I wasn't buying much more than Mutant X... So while I was never gone to be brought back, New X-Men certainly renewed my interest in the X-franchise en masse, and was the gateway into which I began making much larger and expansive purchases.

Purchases like the graphic novels Blankets and Maus... [Kidding!]

New X-Men was a hot ticket item and tough to get from the comic store rack, but the issues I do have were a real delight. I can honestly say it's the first time X-Men has ever been a regular priority.

I've been wanting to feature an issue somewhere along here, but the curious thing is that as much action and violence as there was, there really weren't a lot of simple, break it down fights. I went with this one, and I stand by my choice, but the true brilliance to this run was the overall presentation.
Even the leather jacket uniforms, which were a happy compromise between the filmick black leather, and the classic primary yellow, were a brilliant step forward for the X-team.

Despite a distinct Marvel bias over the past few months, I've actually been sitting on the DC side of the fence for the last few years. Having grown up a Marvel youngster, I really feel post-Jemas the company went though a period of very disappointing creative direction.
While I feel they are now recovering, there's still a ways to go before I can ever expect to read and X-Men comic with the same vim as New X-Men.

The Fight: 4.5 The Issue: 5.5
Additional Stats: Victory also to Beast and Cyclops, with assists to the rest of the team.
Xorn fatal injury inflicted on Esme.

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