Writer: Grant Morrison
Quality: 4 out of 5
Importance: 4.2 out of 5
Recommended Reading For: Anybody who just finished reading New X-Men Vol 1.
In my last post, reviewing New X-Men Vol 1: E is for Extinction, I concluded by listing a few suggested prerequisites that could help new readers better understand Morrison’s plotlines. With New X-Men Vol 2: Imperial, those prerequisites become even more important as Lilandra and her Imperial Guard play a central role in the plot. I promise not to spoil anything more than that for you – that’s the OTB guarantee: No ruined storylines! – but I highly recommend brushing up on your comic book history if the name Lilandra doesn’t already mean something to you. And something X-Men related; if Lilandra is the name of your flippin’ ex who stabbed you in the back by cheating on you with your brother (who’s flippin’ fourteen!), then I don’t really have a recommendation for you. Except maybe counseling.
Full review after the jump. LET ME POINT OUT NOW THAT THE REMAINDER OF THE REVIEW IS ONLY FOR THOSE WHO HAVE READ THE PRECEEDING VOLUME. DO NOT READ THIS IF YOU HAVEN”T!!!At the end of Vol 1, we left off with the evil Cassandra Nova taking over Professor X’s body and subsequently making two major moves:
1) Announcing to the world that Professor X is a mutant and that the Xavier Institute for Higher Learning is a school of mutants
2) Boarding a Shi’ar spaceship to be with Lilandra.
The first of these developments has major ramifications for the X-Men’s universe, and sets the stage for several storylines in the future. In New X-Men Vol 2: Imperial, though, the announcement leaves the X-Men with the task of guiding the public into this new era of mutant openness. Although Cassandra Nova’s announcement does lead to increased rioting outside the school (as she likely intended), it also comes at a time when pro-mutant sentiment is at a high. Again, this is likely due to Nova and her bombing of Genosha in Vol 1. After all, killing 16 million mutants at once is a pretty good way to make people consider that it’s maybe not the best thing that could have happened.
As such, the X-Men have the responsibility of giving the media a guided tour of Xavier’s, a completely unprecedented bridging between the human and mutant populations. This forms the basic centerpiece for New X-Men Vol 2: Imperial, as it wraps up the major unanswered questions left at the end of Vol 1. As far as continuity goes, reading New X-Men Vol 2: Imperial in close conjunction with Vol 1 is a pretty smart move, since the major storylines of these two volumes are intricately linked together.
As a whole, New X-Men Vol 2: Imperial continues Morrison’s strong writing while taking some interesting chances as well. Specifically, the entire third issue in the graphic novel is a near-wordless, trippy journey through Professor Xavier’s mind. This issue was unlike any X-Men comic I had ever read, forcing the reader to really focus on the images at hand without dialogue to guide them. Of course, to top off the experiment, we are locked inside the most powerful mutant mind in the world, where the rules of our reality don’t exactly apply.
It’s these sorts of daring moves, along with consistent, strong character development that really make Morrison’s New X-Men so intriguing. The character of Beast alone is simultaneously fascinating and hilarious, particularly as he challenges mass stereotyping by letting the media report he’s come out as gay.
In short, Vol. 2 is a strong conclusion to a great and groundbreaking introduction to the New X-Men Series. It is not the best piece of the series, but it’s a necessary read and an enjoyable one.