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“Live, Scott.” “Live.”

“All I ever did was die on you.”

Wow. I said a while ago that I suspected one of Morrison’s goals in New X-Men has been to blow the X-Men out of their rut so they can escape the gravity of bad soap opera and go have fun new stories. I believe my wording was something like “explode the living fuck out of it all.” Well, now that I’ve read New X-Men: Planet X… that was an understatement, wasn’t it!

I really wish Marvel would print page numbers in their TPBs. At the end of issue #148, a little more than halfway through the book, Jean is dead, killed by Logan to end her misery. Logan picks her up, walks out of Asteroid M, carries her into the sun. They burn up, begin to disintegrate—but Jean wakes, opens her eyes… No, there is no Jean here, this is Phoenix. In three panels, Phil Jimenez and Grant Morrison (and to be sure, inker Andy Lanning and colorist Chris Chuckry, but one of the many disadvantages of corporate comics is the unwieldiness of listing all the contributors) give us Phoenix risen from the ashes in her glory, the terror of those eyes. Asteroid M breaks apart and is consumed in the white void of the sun—this is the final panel of the issue, a full page of white with Asteroid M reduced to gray bits of paint in the middle of it.

Phoenix has come to judge, and she does: “Magneto? You don’t look anything like him. How can you be Magneto when Magneto is dead?” Oh, but Magneto’s reply: “I will not be judged by children. Give me death. Make me immortal.” Alas for him, he ruined his bid for immortality by returning from the dead! Charles Xavier’s judgement is not as succinct as Phoenix’s, but he gets the point across as he scolds poor Erik that “[you’re] just another foolish and self-important old man, with outdated thoughts in his head.” Of course, even Charles knows now (after the debacle of Open Day in New X-Men: Riot at Xavier’s) that there are two foolish and self-important men in the room…

But now Jean is dead again too. And look at this, in the final two pages of the story (minus the “150 years later” coda), this rift begins to open in the page, white bleeding through into the black of the panel gutters. It grows until it fills half the page, and as Jean dies the panels shrink smaller and smaller and finally crumble and disintegrate into the white, alluding to the final image of Asteroid M falling into the sun. Jean died and returned to life in the infinite fires, but now she dies fading into the void.

As Three-in-One say, “Something’s gone wrong with the whole universe now.” Professor X and Magneto, the two poles according to which mutants set their politics, have been discredited and stripped of power, the School is destroyed, New York City is destroyed, hundreds of humans must have been cremated before Magneto was stopped. Logan’s falling and losing his personhood as he loses control of his life (after seeing whatever he saw in those Weapon Plus files). Scott finally lets his rage go and it’s so strong and out of control his eye-blasts apparently start burning people. Everybody’s dying. And it’s like the world just can’t take it anymore and splits open at the seams and dies itself.

Is this end of the X-Men? Well no, Reload, right? They’ll be around when Morrison’s gone. Except… this sure feels like The End, doesn’t it? This is apocalypse, the doom of the X-Men, their final judgement.

But then there’s that epilogue, 150 years in the future, as some people in a flying convertible on the moon discover the Phoenix Egg. Here comes tomorrow indeed, the beginning of a new day as the sun rises and the X-Men are born again. And what now, for these new X-Men?