Things Really get Real
At first the book continues directly from the previous one. We learn that Prof X can walk because Xorn healed his spine (although I thought it was that his legs were crushed? Perhaps that was retconned at some point). Prof X is working on a Cerebra upgrade to telepathically remote-control mutants to help them get out of dangerous situations? No possible way that could go wrong! Sometimes Xavier really does carry the idiot ball. (Although it ends up not being a plot point so far)
I really liked the meditative first issue focusing on Xorn. He’s spent nearly all his life isolated in a box. So it was pretty neat to see him going through Chinatown. And he had to experience both the good and the bad of humanity. He’s turned out to be my favorite or second-favorite character of the New X-Men run.
We then move on to the Fantomex story arc. This is his debut and it’s a bit confusing. At the end I’m a bit confused about what has taken place and what is a result of his misdirection mutant ability. Scott goes to Emma for help with his this can’t be good in Morrison’s realistic world where people aren’t all innocent, even if they’re with the good guys. Also, Jean is Phoenix again....wtf? Apparently Fantomex is an amazing theif and wow, he’s stolen some crazy historical things! (Or has he?) So Fantomex explains the Weapon program in the government. The way the dialog is written, it seems as though up until this point, Marvel had never made it clear that Wolverine was Weapon X as in Weapon 10 as in the 10th one they tried to create. The sad thing is that what he describes is rooted in history - all governments, ours included, has conducted highly illegal human research. And it looks like things got crazy at that research center because Weapon XII is crazy! Human evolution plus sentinels. Holy crap! Again, I feel that Morrison is doing a good job bringing reality to the Marvel Universe. Of course, the government wouldn’t have given up just because Wolverine escaped their control.
Because this is a Morrison book, there’s tons of imagery. I’m missing most of it, but I love the imagery with Fantomex and the Egyptian artifact. The reveal that Fantomex is Weapon XIII? Very interesting.
Then it seems that Morrison gives them a bit of a break from fighting external threats and it moves to internal threats. Beast warns Emma not to mess with Jean and Scott’s marriage. And while she is definitely acting with bad intentions, the fact that Scott has asked her to be his sex/marriage therapist is not good. He’s playing with fire. Also, it’s like a mental affair. Her dressing up in Jeans old costume for roleplay is just messed up!
The X-Men go to Genosha to see if anyone or anything survived. It was interesting, but I don’t understand exactly what happened with Magneto and the flight recorder box. The part with his daughter, Polaris was crazy, too. But I think she’s just suffering from PST
Wolverine in Afghanistan was pretty interesting. Too bad he doesn’t exist in real life. Could probably get some sense into people out there once they realized they couldn’t kill him. Also, Fantomex made a return. Maybe he’s the stealth big bad of this volume? Nope. It turns out that he doesn’t appear again in volume 2.
It was sad when Xavier got his marriage to the alien Shi’ar queen anulled. Scarily it looks like the Phoenix Force is def back. So I’m curious to see what Jean is going to end up doing. Also, I was right on Beast just pretending to be gay to get back at his ex
The next section with the students protest and drug use was what put me on the fence about this volume and eventually knocked it from 4 stars to 3.5 stars. On the one hand, it goes along with Morrison’s M.O. - bring realism to the Marvel Universe. Of course some subsection of the Xavier school, which appears to be high school and college level, would be drug users. And, unlike every other time I’ve seen drugs appears in comics, Morrison does a great job in not making the storyline read like a “very special” story arc. Yes, it does lead to some deaths, but so do drugs in real life. Yeah, in real life lots of people do drugs without dying, but some OD and others just have the wrong physiology and die the first time they try a drug. And, again, high school and university kid think they know everything. It’s no coincidence that it’s always the college kids that regimes around the world worry about. They think they know how to fix the world and it mostly involves them displacing the old people in charge. So some realism comes to the school in the form of a group of kids that idolize Magneto in the way that kids idolize Che. So they attempt a protest and takeover of the school. And, while I appreciate what Morrison was trying to do, it just didn’t do it for me. I’m far enough out from college that I just see them as a bunch of trouble-making jerks that won’t listen to the adults who are just trying to help them not be so destructive.
Mixed in with this storyline is a camping trip that Xorn takes the Welcome Back Kotter (or every movie since Dangerous Minds) class on in an attempt to teach them they aren’t losers and don’t have to act that way. Again, most of this story didn’t quite strike the right nerves for me. But it did show that, contrary to what I thought at the end of book 1, the U-Men are still around trying to harvest mutant organs.
Emma’s girls have a falling out with her over something that happens during the protest story arc. So they let Jean know what’s going on between Scott and Emma. This leads to us finally finding out what happened in Hong Kong - short story: nothing. Also, Wolverine and Domino did make good on all that flirting back in Hong Kong. Jean gets even more Phoenix-y and yet most people continue to trust that she’s got control.
The book ends with an issue or two in which Emma was murdered. By the end we’re not 100% sure who murdered her. Or, if it’s been completely shown, there are other actors doing other things that are a little confusing. In other words, people who seem to have nothing to do with the person the book presents as the killer have been trying to obstruct the case and/or murder the investigators.
In the end, how much you enjoy this volume will depend on whether you find the student shenanigans to be annoying or not. Again, I like that Morrison went there and made the students more realistic. The X-Men have, on average, been very good-two-shoes so it’s good to see this realism and that the school is not a Utopia. Also, there appear to be a lot of story beats in Morrison’s series that are being realized in the current X-books with the Utopia island and all that; including the shirt one of the rioting kids wears being mentioned in Uncanny X-Men 534.1. Things are still overall interesting, but I hope volume 3 focuses a bit more on the adults.