Saturday, November 10, 2007

Hope and fear

Messiah Complex: Chapters 1 & 2

Ed Brubaker and Billy Tan

It has been a while since the last X-Men event. I have been religiously following the various X-titles. I have dropped only one - Excalibur - because I just couldn’t get my head around what was happening to Captain Britain. The thread that was common in all the titles is dealing with the aftermath of M-day—I recently re-read Grant Morisson’s run in New X-men and I better understood the fear and frustration that the remaining mutants felt. During Morrison’s run, the extinction gene in humans has been activated. Homo sapien was slowly but surely being replaced by Homo superior.

In wars around the world that were motivated by tribal rivalries and grudges and where the hate for the “other” was so deep that conflicting parties aimed for genocide, children were targeted first. Kill-off the next generation and there won’t be replacements for soldiers/militia who were killed in battle. Targeting children also caused despair and hopelessness among the adults – leading to a demoralized people losing the will to live. This was palpable in the X-titles. Stryker’s cult killed of a bus load of de-powered students and murdered around three students (with powers). The apathy of the humans, the government, and even the other super heroes was blatant – some parents did not even claim their children’s bodies, not one parent demanded justice for the death of their children, no investigation was conducted by the authorities, and when Ms. Marvel came to the Institute to inform the faculty and the kids that another student was dead, they asked her where was the Avengers when Stryker was murdering the children. She had no answer.

McCoy’s desperate and useless search for a “cure” was a sign that the adults were slowly giving in to hopelessness and to the prospect that they were the last mutants. The X-men’s lame stand on the Registration Act was another symptom of the hopelessness – why bother when they have their own problems – when they were being targeted not only for registration but for extermination.

Thus, the birth of a new mutant is everything to the X-men. Ed Brubraker’s Chapter 1 of the Messiah Complex was very well written – I was kinda traumatized with his run last year in Uncanny X-men. With the Cerebra overloading because of the birth, the Purifiers and the Marauders both scrambling over the baby and practically erasing a town from the map (murdering the children first), the urgency and gravity of the situation was established. Chapter 2 focused more on getting the different X-teams together, setting aside differences and grudges, and setting up plans of action. The tension of who will lead the team was tackled. This is the first major crisis where Xavier is present after recovering his powers. He wanted to lead but since Xavier left the X-men in the end of Morrison’s run, Scott has effectively led the X-men and the Institute with Emma Frost. For the first time, Xavier doubted his place among his X-men and this was perfectly presented and drawn in one page with only one overheard dialog from Scott.

A plus point for me is Billy Tan's drawings of Jaime Maddox, Rictor, and Layla Miller—my beloved X-factor. It has been two (three?) years since House of M where Layla Miller first appeared and in Billy Tan’s drawing she has grown up and is a teen-ager. In X-factor, Layla didn’t look like she aged since M-day. Tan’s Wolverine, Colossus, Angel, and Nightcrawler were awesome in the skirmish with some Marauders. Also, the four X-men executed the fight and interrogation with solid team work that made me want read the fight sequences again (the details are excellent!). So far, I am extremely satisfied and excited. Next week, it’s Peter David and X-factor. Yuhoo!

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