There are a lot of vehement opinions about Grant Morrison’s redefining run on New X-Men, but no matter what you believe, you have to agree that they pulled off one of the best shocking swerves in modern comic book history…

Your Major Spoilers (Retro) Review of New X-Men #146 awaits!

NewXMen146CoverNEW X-MEN #146
Writer: Grant Morrison
Penciler: Phil Jiminez
Inker: Andy Lanning
Colorist: Chris Chuckry
Letterer: Virtual Calligraphy/Rus Wooton
Editor: Mike Marts
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: $2.25
Current Near-Mint Pricing: $3.00

Previously in New X-Men: First encountered by the X-Men during a mission in China, the mutant known as Xorn quickly became part of the X-Men family.  Positive, spiritual and upbeat, he is also ridiculously powerful (his power is described as “a white dwarf star in his brain”) and becomes a trusted part of the X-Men team.  With the team having reformed in a new global configuration, his contribution as both teacher and field member is a key part of the X-operations.

Aaaaand, then this happens…


Professor X’s distress call comes in response to the situation in outer space, where Cyclops, Wolverine and Fantomex have broken into the nerve center of the Weapon Plus project, discovering for the first time important information about the program that gave Fantomex and Wolverine their additional abilities.  That mission has ended with a shocking discovery, forcing Cyclops and Fantomex to flee, leaving Wolverine behind…


As the X-Men’s team leader crashes to Earth and their most resilient member burns along with the satellite headquarters, Professor X gathers his troops.  While the Beast and the White Queen take to the sky to rescue their crashed teammates in one X-Jet, Jean Grey prepares to take another into orbit to fetch whatever is left of Wolverine…


Morrison takes great pains to keep the readers on edge throughout this issue, giving us quick vignettes back and forth through the story, one of which shows the mutant Xorn confronting newest X-Man Dust about an unseen topic, leading her to seek out the institute’s headmaster for guidance…


Dust’s attack destroys Cerebra, the device that allows Professor X to communicate with his team over long distances, and Xorn barely manages to drag the Professor away from her attack,  Meanwhile, the rest of his students are acting in a very sinister fashion elsewhere, preparing a containment chamber to capture her…


Meanwhile, over the South Pacific, the White Queen and Beast locate Cyclops, who telepathically warns her about what he found in the Weapon Plus files: There’s a government informant working inside the Xavier Institute.  But before the information can be passed along to Beast, more sabotage occurs…


I remember reading this issue for the first time, and I was 100% certain that I knew what was happening: Emma Frost had finally returned to her villainous roots and was destroying the team from within.  I was absolutely sure of it…

I was also 100% wrong, as becomes clear immediately.  First, Jean/Phoenix arrives in orbit to save Wolverine, only to discover that the Weapon Plus complex has been built around an existing structure, Magneto’s Asteroid M headquarters.  At the same time. Professor X and Xorn have an uncomfortable discussion in Xorn’s classroom…


Charles tries to reassert his authority as headmaster, only to find the doors suddenly locking, and Xorn entering the Villain Monologue phase of his plan, explaining that he’s been raising the next generation of mutant terrorists right under his nose, a new brotherhood, if you will.  A brotherhood of evil mutants, one might even say…


As Xorn’s helmet slowly raises away to show his real face, Professor Xavier realizes what he has done by bringing Xorn into the inner circle of his X-Men.  Of course, as is the course with most modern X-Men tales, Wolverine figures it out first…


Believed dead since the destruction of Genosha some issues earlier, Charles Xavier’s best frenemy reveals himself to have been Xorn all along, a moment that was truly shocking and unexpected for me as a reader…


And that’s only Chapter One!

In retrospect, clues to Xorn’s true identity had been sprinkled throughout the previous issues, many of them so subtle as to only be noticeable after re-reading with knowledge of the truth.  Unfortunately for anyone who wants cohesive storylines in their comics, Marvel editorial was quite fond of the character Xorn as established, the quiet, thoughtful man with the massive power and the tendency to speak in haikus.  Almost immediately after Morrison’s exit from X-Men, a story appeared claiming that Magneto was actually taking on the identity of an existing Xorn, a development that makes little sense storywise.  (Morrison himself has pointed out that the story he wrote was predicated on and really only works with Xorn as nothing more than a facade.)  Back and forth has ensued, to the point where now there are two Xorns, twin brothers, which is the only way to make his various appearances parse.

All of that is after the fact (and beside the point) for this issue, though, and New X-Men #146 hits the spot, opening Morrison’s penultimate arc with a bang that still echoes through the X-Men universe, giving us an amazing opening chapter with beautiful Phil Jiminez art and a breathtakingly tense story, earning 4 out of 5 stars overall.  I’ve always said that Morrison’s X-Men run is great comics, even if it’s not always great X-Men comics, and this issue is the crown jewel of the run…

NEW X-MEN #146


An incredibly tense issue, with a truly shocking reveal at the end. Whether you like Morrison or not, this one is firing on all cylinders...

User Rating: 3.7 ( 1 votes)

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Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture! And a nice red uniform.


  1. I must be utterly alone in thinking that Grant Morrison didn’t really get what X-Men does well. I thought all his Batman stories, especially Batman Reborn: Batman and Robin, were great! Just shouldn’t be allowed to touch X-Men ever again. Ditto all of the above for Frank Quitely.

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