Saturday, July 28, 2007

Blogathon 13: Uncanny X-Men #394

I may be the person who's read Joe Casey's run on Uncanny X-Men the most. I've read it at least four times. I'm betting that's got to be a record. (Okay, it almost certainly isn't, but roll with me, people.) To understand why this mediocre run is seen as such a failure, you have to think back to 2001 when it was announced that Grant Morrison and Joe Casey were taking over the X-books. I mean, holy shit, Grant Morrison and Joe Casey. The guy who brought JLA back from the dead and the hot rising star, both of which ooze coolness the way the rest of us sweat. That right there is why a simply mediocre run is now looked upon as utter shit. Casey had to compete with Morrison and it seemed like once he realised this, he didn't even bother to try, knowing he would lose.

#394 is an interesting book in that it was the first issue of the relaunch to come out and doesn't actually feature the cast of Casey's X-Men squad really. The issue has Cyclops (Morrison), Jean Grey (Morrison), Wolverine (Morrison and Casey) and Archangel (Casey). Therefore, it's a little "pump you up" issue that doesn't do that, because it sucks all kinds of ass.

Some tattooed, newly-turned-18 mutant named Warp Savant attacks Cape Citadel, the same military base Magneto attacked in (Uncanny) X-Men #1. Why? Because he's young, dumb and ready to come alive, motherfuckers! WHOO!

His mutant power is to absorb things into his mind, which he does to Wolverine and Jean, while Cyclops and Archangel kick his ass until he decides to absorb himself or something. Oh, and Wolverine and Jean kiss.

That's about it. Pretty stupid, eh?

Wrong, it's brilliant, but flawed. This is the beginning Casey's major theme for his run: pop eats itself. Casey will reuse old ideas over and over again and do nothing with them, because why bother? He writes the X-book that X-fans clearly want: one with the same stories, the same characters, the same everything, nothing new, nothing interesting, just blah blah blah. Morrison did a similar riff, but also did a lot of a cool, original stuff. Not Casey. And that's why his run is a brilliant falure. Not much fun to read, but a hoot--no, a hoot-and-a-half--to talk about.

In this issue, we have our Magneto stand-in do what Magneto did: attack humans for no good reason. The look of Warp Savant is even a play on Magneto's look at the tattoo on Savant's face, an "M" (for Magneto and mutant) also looks like the image of Magneto's helmet. Archangel shows up with a big gun, just like he looks on the cover of (Uncanny) X-Men #1. Jean has telekinesis again, because that's how she began. It's all utterly mediocre the way that (Uncanny) X-Men #1 was.

Cyclops' first line is "SOME THINGS NEVER CHANGE." While Morrison's New X-Men run begins with Cyclops telling Wolverine to stop beating on a Sentinel, representing that he can stop being that character that he's always been, indicating change, forward-thinking, all that kewl stuff, Casey tells us that nothing revolutionary will happen.

And he keeps his promise.

(I love how "Houses of the Holy" appears on Physical Graffiti and not Houses of the Holy.)