My Scott & Jean: Knowing When To Let Go

March 30th, 2009 by | Tags: , , , ,

from marvel’s New X-Men Vol. 7: Here Comes Tomorrow, words by grant morrison, art by marc silvestri

My Scott & Jean is accepting change. Opinions change, people change, stories change, characters change, and comics change. Gambit and Rogue had a “will they or won’t they?” relationship when I first started reading comics. Cannonball was on the verge of becoming a great leader. Iceman was learning just how powerful he really is. Scott and Jean were going through relationship troubles. And so on.

When things last that long, they stagnate.

New X-Men was the last great X-Men story. It told a tale that of drama, death, and revenge that, in the end, was solved by love. Jean Grey is basically the main character of Morrison’s New X-Men. Despite having grown apart from her husband after he went through some serious trauma, she loves him. She’s grown-up enough to let the relationship go without any drama or mess. She laughs, and tells her husband to live. It was easily the most mature thing to ever happen to that relationship, which has been fraught with Claremont-style fairy tale love and forced drama.

It’s over, let it be. It’s time for something new.

I’ve got no interest in Green Lantern: Rebirth, Flash: Rebirth, the return of Babs Gordon as Batgirl, Johnny Storm and Iceman being dialed back to being idiots because writers are too lazy or too infatuated with the first time they read them (whatever happened to that friendship, anyway?), Cyclops going back to being cold and aloof, the X-Men going from thriving minority to endangered species, or any of that crap. Leave 1985 in the past, because we have been there and done that.

Stories shouldn’t last forever.

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12 comments to “My Scott & Jean: Knowing When To Let Go”

  1. I brought this up in BSS and the boos from the peanut gallery when I suggested that only people my dad’s age care about maintaining these characters that date back from the Silver Age. Why would I care about Hal Jordan when Kyle Rayner’s civilian identity seems to have a lot more in common with me than a hard drinkin’ two fisted test pilot with no personality outside of him not having TIME FOR THIS.

    I’m sure that when they inevitably dig up Jean Grey we’ll have a pointless love triangle storyline just like they’re doing on Lost right now with Sawyer, and that will just be more dirt on the coffin lid as to why I find it so hard to care about the X-Men after the Morrison story is over.

  2. I don’t have a problem with stories lasting forever, in the sense that they can be told and retold endlessly. What I hate is when stories just don’t end! I’m with you, man, I want superheroes to stay dead once in a damn while, I want Barbara Gordon to stay crippled, and I want Johnny Storm and Jimmy Olson to finally grow their man hairs. So yeah, amen.

  3. Somewhere in my most embarrassing email archives I have a letter written to Peter David at the beginning of the new X-FACTOR series. It was a thank-you for what looked like a very promising new beginning, and an explanation for the potential that I saw in the project.

    The reason I was so excited (this was one of about 3 letters I have ever written to a comic in my life) was that, pretty much for the first time ever, I thought I could have a superhero comic that I could relate to. It took all these characters that I knew and liked but was slightly embarrassed about, and it showed them being slightly embarrassed about themselves too. All these teenage mutant characters had gone through these over-the-top melodramatic storylines back in the 90s — when I was like 11 and they were supposed to be like 18. Now (in 2005) I had almost caught up to them — I guess they were supposed to be in their 20s, and I was 20. They were dealing with the same questions of “where do we go from here?” that I was, not just going through the same storylines drawn slightly older, but actually getting jobs and trying to move in a new direction with their lives. They were talking like actual people instead of cartoons.

    Of course, that lasted about three issues, before everyone involved remembered they were in a Marvel comic book. So much for change.

    On a related note, it was really interesting to discover John Francis Moore’s X-FORCE run after the fact. That was a book I had followed religiously from the beginning through about 1996, then stopped. When I got to college, it was exciting and disconcerting to see that the book had kept going and (under Moore) become more relevant to my interests, with the kids hitting the road and going to Burning Man and reuniting with old friends and bickering like friends do. Friends would sleep with each other, and sleep with other people, and fight about it, and move on, instead of staying for years in this stifling ten-year-old’s idea of sexless romantic tension that never went anywhere.

    Now, of course: “It was announced at New York Comic Con 2009 that a new New Mutants volume will begin in May 2009. The series will be written by Zeb Wells and pencilled by Diogenes Neves. The team will consist of Cannonball, Dani Moonstar, Magma, Sunspot, Karma, and Magik.”

    1985 is right.

  4. I got now problem with Babs getting out the chair, I thought it was kinda stupid that after all that time with all the Super-heroes she know that it was never resolved. Hell Kyle Healed 2 criples during his intial run, John Stewart being one of them. I also hate that a good character, namely Cassandra Cain get the shit end of the stick Just to bring Babs back. Just look at Rachel Summers, crapped on cuz she’s now Jean enough

  5. Although I still long for Jean (or, more precisely, am repulsed by Emma), I had a similar thought, recently.

    I was thinking about how people thought it was a fatal mistake to have Superman and Spidey marry their long-time love interests, because that wasn’t their classic incarnation. But I think the truth is that people who’ve read these series for enough years or decades have TIRED of the same ol’ thing where, let’s say, the girlfriend is tricked by a pair of sunglasses… or thinks her boyfriend’s a coward who always leaves her when times are rough, but she loves him, anyway.

    Heck, in a lot of Marvel series, the main character(s) HAVE no secret identity, anymore! Consider how much that frees the filmmakers.

    Looking at the X-Men, going from a handful of white-Americans to a team with international ties and some grown-up sensibilities was a BIG change. And it worked.

    The FF have changed. The Avengers have changed. Superman’s powers have changed. Hulk’s height, strength, color, and intelligence have changed.

    Unlocking the chains that bind these creators gives us more room for character growth and plot diversity. Maybe then, there’ll be more ways to “shock” the reader than by killing characters no one believes will actually stay dead.

  6. Great post. I fear that Fraction is about to bring back Maddie Pryor though. Why he is doing this is beyond anyone’s comprehension. 1985, here we come!

  7. Amen to forward growth, but if it isn’t done well, fuck it. Give me the status quo until someone with the chops to write me a story where things change and I care enough to want them to stay changed comes along rather than the same old hacks who only work because they’ve been office furniture for years now – imagine if that Morrison issue was written by Nicienza or Claremont, for instance. I’d have welcomed the retcon three issues later so at least I could read something that entertained me somewhere down the line while I held out hope for a satisfying resolution to the story and character development that had gone on for years, rather than yet another corporate cash-grab crossover/mega-event or editorially-mandated storyline or status change, because sometimes the shake-ups can be just as boring and predictable as the status quo.

    The death of Jean Grey under Morrison’s hand worked as a story – and the end of a story. And yet already we’re seeing the forums and blogs discussing when the baby in Cable can be ‘all grown up’ so Cyclops can have sex with her.

  8. Great post and thanks for playing! I’m always fascinated by how stories change and how (hopefully) the characters evolve as they do. That said…I still want Jean to come back. That’s not *too* 1985, right? 😉

  9. Yeah, Grant Morrison’s Jean Grey is probably the most interesting that character has ever been, including when John Byrne and Chris Claremont made her eat planets.

    I don’t get that people don’t realize that the best way to pay tribute to older stories is to not repeat them. Why do we fondly remember Claremont and Byrne’s X-Men? Because they were “All-New, All-Different!” So maybe instead of trying to recapture the magic by retelling the same old “will-they-or-won’t-they” stories with the same old characters, wouldn’t the best way to pay tribute be to do something all-new and all-different as well?

    Morrison had the right idea. And frankly, so did Carey. I’d like to see him come out of his insulated Professor X corner of the X-Universe and take the reigns again. He understood what Morrison did with the X-Men better than anyone else, and he knew better than Joss Whedon (not that I disliked his take) that the only way to follow it up was to do something completely different.

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  12. Another great post David. I’ve been discussing this lately with the few friends that I have that actually read comics – why must these characters essentially run on a development treadmill all the time? There are plenty of terrific writers out there that have the chops to evolve these characters and take them to new places – see Ed Brubaker’s run on Captain America – but for the most part these characters always seem to bounce back to the same place, a la Spider-man. I get the importance of maintaining the icons – perhaps the big guys can do so via an alternate line (how about something that kids can actually read?), but why not actually kill characters/introduce new characters/have people age so that the reader doesn’t eventually wind up getting tired of the same old stuff all the time? And wouldn’t this be somewhat fertile soil to keep many of the movie franchises going? Sorry, just ranting now. Keep up the good work.