Page 45 Review by Stephen
Emma Frost: "Hypercortisone D. They call it "Kick," God bless the little dears. It makes them feel like movie stars, being directed by God, on location in Heaven... We found this dispenser outside the Common Room window. I've tried it, of course... in the interests of science. I felt angelic and violently insane for five hours. I foresee trouble if this becomes widespread."
Quentin Quire: "You're always encouraging us to dream... I just wondered what would happen if one of us had a dream you didn't like?"
Charles Xavier: "These clothes, the angry slogans, are just the outward signs... he's developing a small cult following. With a dangerous anti-human undercurrent. If any of our students were found to be involved in these latest killings... I've always feared something like this - trouble from within."
When Jumbo Carnation, flamboyant clothes designer and mutant cause célèbre, becomes the latest victim of anti-mutant hatred, it's one last nail in the coffin of tolerance for some of the younger students at Professor Xavier's school. They've seen 16,000 mutants massacred in Genosha with human technology, their self-proclaimed mentor has been trying to win the battle for integration and peaceful co-existence for years, and to Quentin Quire, a bitter teenage with all the dopamine that comes with those years, the goal is no nearer to being accomplished than it was when Xavier began. All it takes is one profound emotional trauma and a blast of Kick, and it's going to grow nastier than any of the students or teachers can imagine.
Morrison's brilliance throughout this series has been to refine the spectacle, mechanics and melodrama of the superpowered mutant as outsider, and marry them to historical and contemporary social issues, popular youth trends, and throw in a lot of style while he's at it. For the Genoshan genocide, read Holocaust; for the assault on Jumbo, read queer bashing; and then there's always been that logic-defying racism within the football and music camp, when key players in both are quite patently black. All this and so much more - from reclaiming the language and imagery of bigotry, to recreational drugs, globalisation and modern evolutionary theory - has been tailored to fit this mutant soap opera and turn it into something refreshingly relevant and deliciously witty. And the icing on the cake, if you'll excuse the pun, has to be the sybaritic Emma Frost, perpetually detached, self-important and superficial, whose complacent calm in the heart of the bloody storm is rendered by Quitely with total panache:
"It looks like you were right about Master Quire and his band of bad haircuts. This is quite appalling!"
"We told you, Miss Frost! We knew he'd ruin our Open Day! He wants to make a mess of everything."
"I'm sure it's just another petulant cry for help, girls. I don't know what it is with young people these days, but I do miss the imagination and verve of the little zealots I used to teach. There was a wild, romantic light in their eyes and they threw themselves into the fray at every turn. Now it's all bored stares, vague demands and a few broken windows. Hardly the stuff of mutant legend."
"But weren't they all killed, Miss Frost? The students you used to teach?"
"There were one or two fatalities, yes
but for heaven's sake, Esme. Let's try not to dwell on the down side."
Imagination, flair and a keen fashion sense - when they're on top form Quitely and Morrison have made reading the X-Men a chic thrill for grown-ups rather than a guilty addiction for the undemanding. You can come out now.