Thursday, July 22, 2010

New X-Men 114 - Close Reading and Thoughts

The following begins a close-reading of Grant Morrison's New X-Men. Issue 114 was written by Morrison and illustrated by Frank Quitely, with inks by Tim Townsend. It was published and is owned by Marvel Comics.

114.01.01 The first of many critiques of (potentially) outmoded technology and techniques. And, having the Opera House in the background allows for a more naturalistic cueing of locale, than a caption.

114.02.01 First introduction to Cassandra Nova, biological twin and mystical mummudrai of Charles Xavier. Also, she’s lying a whole lot here in the next pages, and even Mr. Trask, there can intimate the untruth.

114.02.04 A fairly accurate description, not of mutants, but of herself.

114.04.02 Psychokinesis can take apart a timepiece. Can it take apart time?

114.04.020-03 Why don’t’ Jean and Emma have codenames listed? “White Queen” and “Phoenix” probably conjure some bad memories, both for the women, themselves, and for everyone else.

114.04.05 The blood on Wolverine’s claws seems to be coming from him, not someone else. Larry Hama established, some years ago, that Wolverine cut himself open from the inside every time his claws come out, but this is a rare deomonstration of a detail of that fact, and subtly done, too.

114.06.01 Beast’s words carry a double-meaning, obviously, and the shot of the school’s sign settles the location, again, without a need for a caption.

114.06.02 First appearance of the rose motif, mostly connected to Beast. Beast’s difficulty adjusting to his new hands is also the first of many references to detriment as well as benefit from change.

114.06.03 Well, earlobes are a bit of essentially decorative biology at this point in human existence.

114.07.01 The feminisation of Cerebro to Cerebra is the first of many references to gender bias/valorization. As may be Beast’s sounds-like-a-jest-but-isn’t about being “hormonally imbalanced.” It’s also another example of outdated tech and technique being replaced with new stuff that essentially does the same as the old.

114.07.02 “Beauty and the Beast” call out is what you’d call hanging a lampshade on it, drawing attention to the new look, which is inspired by the Cocteau film, while Beast’s request for a diet soda demonstrates the absurdity of some of his concerns.

114.08.06 Beast’s line here demonstrates again that he’s a little too worried some days.

114.10.04 Wolverine’s too hard for Dos Equis, apparently, he needs Cuatro Equis.

114.11.01 The blood and spent rounds are a nice way to illustrate that gravity isn’t really pulling down on them so much.

114.11.05 The plane and X-Men here are part of the condensation coming out of Xavier’s thoughts.

114.12.02 “Only a simulation of the sickening reality.” Except it may not be reality at all, it just seems real. Seems possible.

114.14.01 The panel contains other panels, but it also contains two different time periods in it; Xavier at the top and the X-Men answering with a panel between them. The change in costumes to another set of uniforms is acknowledged as cosmetic, and of course, Beast would know the difference between what the X-Men are and do and superheroes, being a former Defender, Avenger, and probably other stuff. Beast as lectured on superheroes at universities, for further he knows what he’s talking about.

114.15.01 New school term hints at the fact the school will soon be full of mutant students, as opposed to the norm of post grads and combat vets.

114.15.02- Scott and Jean’s relationship troubles are going to fuel this whole story, as will Wolverine and Cyclops’ inability to help each other without needling the whole time.

114.15.04 Another criticism of the wealth that goes into this X-lifestyle and opposing it.

114.16.01-02 Beast really is a sensualist from the smells comment to the getting right down into a DNA sample.

114.16.03 More finances criticism.

114.18.01 She doesn’t eat his mind, here. We do, however, see something else with similar speech patterns that is thought to eat minds, so maybe she could.

114.18.04-05 This is Cassie’s plan, or at least, a stage of it, completely spelled out.

114.18.01- The nine panel grid really does slow down the elements of this scene, also making them seem small, contained, allusive of the pressure that must have ruptured that can and is giving Xavier a nosebleed.

114.19.03 Morrison really loves his “AAAUUUU…”

114.19.05 “Are these words from the future?” is a phrase we’ll be seeing again.

114.22.01 Wild Sentinels. More varied in shape, willing cannibals of mechanical and biological components, and just as, if not more, effective than their predecessors.

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