New X-Men (2001-2004) is an American comic book series written by Grant Morrison, which follows the X-Men's "Blue Team" as they attempt to stop several new threats against both mutants and mankind.The series was a retitling of the then-ongoing second volume of the X-Men series which began in the early 90's, and shared the series' numbering. Morrison, a critically-acclaimed writer known for his high-profile works at DC Comics, was brought onboard to revitalize the title and introduce a number of new story elements. Morrison started as he meant to go on, as the new villain Cassandra Nova directed an army of Sentinels to destroy the mutant island Genosha, resulting in sixteen million mutant deaths and a shake-up to the status quo.The following arcs introduced several new students at Charles Xavier's school (including Beak, a deformed half-human birdman, Angel Salvadore, a young woman who sports the wings of a fly, the Stepford Cuckoos, and Xorn, a Chinese prisoner who can heal injured people and sports a black hole inside his helmet), and dealt with more mature themes. The series culminated in a storyline, "Planet X", that was over two years in the making - Xorn revealed himself to be Magneto (who was thought dead after Genosha was destroyed), and subsequently crippled Xavier while enacting a plan to turn Earth into a mutant haven and exterminate humanity in the process.The series comprised nine story arcs (and one annual issue), including:
E For Extinction (#114-116): Cassandra Nova makes her first appearance and uses an army of Sentinels to destroy Genosha, Emma Frost rejoins the team and Xavier (possessed by Nova) outs himself as a mutant on live television.
The Man From Room X (Annual 2001): The team travels to Hong Kong and enlists Domino's help in rescuing a captive mutant named Xorn, who has many dark secrets. In the end, Xorn is persuaded to join the team.
Imperial (#118-126): Several new students are introduced at the Xavier Institute, while the team goes into Xavier's mind to free him from Nova's influence. Meanwhile, Nova uses Xavier's powers to manipulate the Shi'ar into attacking the Xavier Institute.
New Worlds (#127-133): The team revisits Genosha to look for survivors, as well as broker peace amidst rising mutant/human tensions, while Cyclops begins a "psychic" relationship with Emma.
Riot At Xavier's (#135-138): One of Xavier's students, Quentin Quire, begins to mock his mentor's pacifistic teachings, and (along with a group of militant classmates, all hopped up on the mutant drug Kick) attempts to kill humans and cause a riot in retaliation.
Murder At The Mansion (#139-141): After discovering Scott's psychic relationship with Emma, Jean freaks out and uses the power of the Phoenix to burn through the White Queen's defenses. Later on, Emma is found to have been shattered into thousands of pieces, prompting Bishop and Sage to begin an investigation into her death.
Assault On Weapon Plus (#142-145): Fantomex, Cyclops and Wolverine journey to a dormant asteroid that houses the remnants of the Weapon Plus program, which is discovered to go back to at least World War II, and results in Wolverine discovering his past.
Planet X (#146-150): The series climaxes with Xorn revealing himself to be Magneto and throwing the entire Xavier Institute into chaos when he cripples Xavier again and attempts to exterminate humanity as a precursor to turning Earth into a mutant haven.
Here Comes Tomorrow (#151-154): The final arc written by Morrison, which follows a group of mutants in the far future who discover Jean Grey inside a Phoenix Egg and attempt to free her, while Beast (under the influence of Sublime) attempts to destroy the X-Men (now led by a reformed clone of Cassandra Nova) once and for all.
Bright New Mourning (#155-156): The only New X-Men arc not written by Morrison (Chuck Austen took over writing duties). The story was a bridge to the "Reloaded" series (which went back to the traditional X-Men title), and followed the team as they rebuild after the events of the "Planet X" arc.
The book resulted in a re-energizing of the franchise, and was critically and commercially acclaimed. However, the revelation that Xorn was actually Magneto in disguise was hastily retconned by Marvel after the run due to fan backlash. The series reverted back to the original X-Men title beginning at issue #157.For the series New X-Men: Academy X, visit the New Mutants page.
"Quentin Quire was liberated from his physical cocoon and born into a higher world at exactly 4:32 this afternoon. I know how ridiculous that sounds, but in this case we believe it to be the literal truth."
Batman Grabs a Gun: In one of the earliest issues, Professor Xavier picks up a gun and promptly shoots Cassandra when it becomes clear that the X-Men are in over their heads in their battle with her, breaking his strict "No Kill" policy. Subverted, though, in that it later turns that it was Cassandra's mind in the Professor's body, and that the Professor's mind was in Cassandra's body when it happened.
He attempted it earlier, threathening to shoot himself to prevent her from taking control of his body and Cerebra.
Berserk Button: Jean's death does this to Wolverine, who promptly decapitates Xorn/Magneto.
Big Damn Heroes: The Stepford Cuckoos take it upon themselves to stop Quentin Quire's riot. Sophie uses Cerebra (and some Kick) to boost their abilities while her sisters handle Quentin face-to-face. Sophie dies as a result, though this turned out to be orchestrated by Esme.
Bigger Bad: Sublime. He was behind everything from the Kick drug to the creation of Weapon X (actually the tenth experiment of Weapon Plus), and may even have manipulated humanity into turning against mutants in the first place.
Birds of a Feather: Beak and Angel, who come from similar backgrounds and meet when a group of students dares Angel to kiss the ugliest student in the school. They eventually raise a family together.
Bizarrchitecture: Used particularly effectively in issue #121, when Jean and Emma probe Professor Xavier's memories while he's trapped inside Cassandra's brain (yes, it's just as mind screwy as it sounds).
Blessed with Suck: Angel Salvadore has the ability to fly, but does so at the cost of not being able to consume her food like a human; she has more fly-like organs, meaning that to eat, she has to vomit acidic slime on her food and let it dissolve into paste before sucking it back up. Even many of her fellow mutants regard this as gross. She also has a fly-like reproductive system, and ends up giving birth to five children — which she lays as part of a clutch of about a dozen or more huge, ugly eggs — about a week after getting pregnant.
Brain in a Jar: One of the new students at the Institute is Martha Johannsen, a powerful psychic whose brain was severed by Sublime, leaving her as a disembodied brain on life support. Fortunately, she's still able to communicate with people telepathically, and the Professor constructs a special jar for her with antigravity capabilities.
Breather Episode: "Assault on Weapon Plus". After all of the drama over Scott's infidelity and the attempt on Emma's life, Scott goes out for a nice "boy's night out" with Logan and Fantomex (which involves them battling some cyborgs and breaking into a space station). They get back just in time for "Planet X".
The Cameo: Though mostly absent, a few of the X-Men outside of the main five make brief appearances. Archangel appears after "Imperial" to give a few of the new students a flying lesson, and Storm can be seen helping with the cleanup of Genosha along with Thunderbird, Sabra and a few others.
In addition, some of the auxiliary X-teams also appear as employees of the X-Corporation. Many of the members of X-Factor note M, Siryn, Rictor, Multiple Man, Cannonball and Darkstar work for the Paris branch, and a few former X-Force members note Warpath, Thornn, Feral and Sunfire work for the Mumbai branch.
Civvie Spandex: The team (sans Emma) wears matching yellow-and-black leather jackets and pants for the duration of the series.
Cloning Blues: The Stepford Cuckoos have this to some extent. In particular, Esme ends up taking Kick so she can feel like an individual, and she ultimately rebels against the X-Men and joins Magneto. It's understandable that all of them might have some doubts about themselves, though, since they were actually bred as weapons by Weapon Plus.
Composite Character: Sort of. Morrison says that he gave Emma the ability to turn into diamond because he originally wanted to put Colossus in the team's lineup, but decided to combine his powers with another character after he was killed off in the "Legacy Virus" arc.
Darkest Hour: Issue #147 - Xavier has been crippled (again), Xorn has revealed himself to be Magneto and leaves with several of Xavier's students, Logan and Jean are on an asteroid that's hurtling into the sun, Hank and Emma are stuck on a small island in the middle of nowhere after the Blackbird crashes, and the rest of the team is scattered and unsure of what to do.
Deadpan Snarker: Jean Gray as Phoenix, who starts by passively asking the mutilated Wolverine if his "eyes have grown back yet" and dies just after she remarks to Cyclops how she seems to come back only to die again soon after.
Deconstruction: The series explores many of the harsher aspects of how a subculture of superhumans might function in the real world, with abuse of power-enhancing drugs, campus insurrection at the Xavier Institute, the homegrown culture of the "mutant ghetto", and even Che Guevara-esque idolization of Magneto figuring into the plot.
Decon-Recon Switch: Joss Whedon's Astonishing X-Men (New X-Men's direct sequel) continued most of the series' themes and plot arcs while recasting the X-Men as traditional superheroes, complete with their classic spandex costumes. Though every bit as dark and mature as Morrison's run, it managed to reconstruct the action and adventure of the Claremont era, showing that there's still a place for superheroics amidst the chaos and ambiguity of the modern world.
Dropped a Bridge on Him: Genosha is unceremoniously destroyed at the end of the first issue of "E For Extinction", killing millions and leaving a few survivors to pick up the pieces. By the end of the "Planet X" arc, Jean is also dead.
Drugs Are Bad: Both Quentin Quire and Xorn/Magneto are revealed to be addicted to the mutant drug Kick, which enhances their powers and motivates the "Riot At Xavier" and "Planet X" arcs.
Easily Forgiven: The rest of the team doesn't seem to bear Emma any ill will for seducing Scott behind Jean's back. Even Professor Xavier, who has very little tolerance for people using psychic powers to manipulate others, doesn't call her out on her using telepathy to exploit his confusion.
Evil Costume Switch: Esme Cuckoo's clothing style changes radically after she betrays the team and joins Magneto. Justified, since the change in dress makes it clear that she has definitively broken free from the Cuckoos and become an individual (before that point, the Cuckoos always dressed identically).
Evil Twin: Cassandra Nova is Charles's twin sister, whom he killed in the womb in self-defense. Esme Cuckoo is a subversion, as she's an Evil Quintuplet.
Exactly What I Aimed At: During the final battle with Xorn/Magneto, Fantomex opens fire on the villain, who of course deflects the bullets with his powers... right into the stasis tank imprisoning Xavier, freeing him. Given who Fantomex is, it's not hard to imagine this trope was at play here.
Face-Heel Turn: Esme Cuckoo, who gets hooked on Kick, tries to murder Emma, and finally falls in with Magneto when he tries to destroy New York City.
Family-Unfriendly Death: Esme Cuckoo. After she turns on "Magneto," he shoves her metal earrings in one side of her head and out the other. Horizontally.
Foreshadowing: Quite a bit, actually, although it's often quite oblique, regarding both John Sublime and Magneto. Everything Quentin says as he dies/ascends actually does double duty, being applicable to both.
Future Badass: Beak's grandson Tito Bohusk Jr., who is essentially Beak with full control over his flight powers—and without the angst or social awkwardness.
Gambit Roulette: Sublime's master plan to wipe out mutantkind is, for lack of a better term, ridiculously convoluted, doubly so when you realize that he was controlling pretty much every character at one point or another, either through direct Demonic Possession or simply through subterfuge, meaning a couple of times one of his pawns will be defeated by another one.
Great Offscreen War: Sublime's takeover of Earth happens completely offscreen. After "Planet X", the action cuts straight from the present day to 150 years in the future.
Heel-Face Revolving Door: Beak, who ends up joining Xorn/Magneto when he reformed the Brotherhood of Mutants, then regained his conscience and rejoined the X-Men as they made their assault on the Brotherhood's base.
Heel-Face Turn: In the Bad Future caused by Sublime's rise to power, a reformed Cassandra Nova ends up leading the next generation of X-Men in resisting him. It's implied that Ernst may have been a reborn Cassandra all along.
Heroic BSOD: Polaris is revealed to have been in this state for months when the team finds her on Genosha - she blamed herself for not being able to save the millions of massacred mutants, and became a nude, deranged recluse who wandered around the island.
Hive Mind: The Stepford Cuckoos, first introduced in this series, have this as part of their mutation. It's later revealed that they were actually created to be like this by Weapon Plus.
I Can Explain: When Jean catches Scott with Emma, she says: "Don't tell me. You can explain..."
Important Haircut: Esme Cuckoo cuts her hair short after she breaks free from the rest of the Cuckoos and joins Magneto. The haircut helps distinguish her from her sister clones, finally marking her as an individual instead of one-fifth of a Hive Mind.
The Lancer: Fantomex is this to Wolverine over the course of the series. In hindsight, it makes more sense - Fantomex is a later participant of the Weapon Plus program.
Loads and Loads of Characters: While none of them receive that much panel time, the Xavier Institute was filled with hundreds of students each with unique mutations. Most of them weren't properly identified until years later.
The Man Behind the Man: The later arcs, starting with "Murder at the Mansion," begin revealing a whole string of people behind other people: Angel Salvadore shot Emma Frost... under a psychic command from Esme Cuckoo... who gave said command at the behest of Xorn... who was possessed by Sublime. Furthermore, Sublime was ultimately revealed to responsible for everything bad that happened in the run, apart from maybe Cassandra Nova, and even then it's implied she at least got her tech from him if nothing else.
Meta Origin: The series officially canonizes the fact that mutants can receive additional secondary mutations, highlighted by Emma's survival during the destruction of Genosha (she becomes an indestructible diamond form, at the cost of the temporary loss of her telepathy).
The Weapon X program also gets this treatment. We learn that the "X" in its name is actually the Roman numeral for "10"—it's the tenth in a series of experiments devised by Sublime to create the perfect super-soldiers for combatting the mutant menace. The project began with in World War II with the creation of Weapon I...better known as Captain America.
Mind Screw: "Here Comes Tomorrow" is classic Morrison, particularly the final scene taking place in the acid trip of a dimension that is the White Hot Room, which may be the afterlife, the realm of the Phoenix Force, the inside of the M'krann Crystal, or any combination of the three.
Neck Snap: Emma does this to Cassandra at the end of the E For Extinction arc.
New Powers as the Plot Demands: Morrison's run introduced the concept of "secondary mutations", with a few of the X-Men gaining new powers. Conveniently, Emma discovers her ability to transform into diamond right after a building falls on her.
No Fourth Wall: At one point in "Here Comes Tomorrow," Cassandra turns to the reader and says "I've had dreams, you know. Dreams with you in them."
Not Using the S Word: Morrison wanted to distance X-Men from its roots as a superhero comic in favor of making it a more nuanced, realistic science-fiction comic—so the characters almost never use the word "superhero", aside from a scene in the first issue where Beast tells Professor Xavier "I was never sure why you had us dress like superheroes" when reviewing the new uniforms.
Party Scattering: Done intentionally by Xorn/Magneto to separate the team while he cripples Xavier in "Planet X".
Puberty Superpower: Both Beak and Angel manifested their powers when they were in their teens - Angel was thrown out of her home when her father discovered she could fly, and Beak fled his home after discovering his physical changes.
Retcon: Xorn's reveal as Magneto was hastily swept under the rug as soon as Morrison's run ended. This was parodied in the fan film Death Becomes Them (Watch it here)):
Magneto: No, that was actually Xorn's twin brother, possessed by the sentient mold Sublime, pretending to be me, pretending to be Xorn.
Beast: That defies all logic!
Red Herring: When Cassandra first shows up, the X-Men theorize that she's the first specimen of a completely new species that's more advanced than both humans and mutants. This seems the most likely explanation for her strange physiology...until it turns out that she's actually professor Xavier's deranged twin sister, and that her messed up anatomy is the result of her creating her own body after existing as an incorporeal being on the astral plane.
Retirony: Inverted. Midway through the run, Xavier announces that he wishes to retire and appoint Jean as the new Headmistress of the Institute in his place. Though he survives, Jean is killed, leaving Scott to become the new Headmaster instead.
Rewrite: The Weapon X facility is explained to be just one of several such installations created throughout the world. Captain America is revealed to be "Weapon I" (from the Project: Rebirth program), while several other characters (including the Stepford Cuckoos) are revealed to be later test subjects.
Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Emma in the "E For Extinction" arc, who initially goes after humanity for destroying Genosha, but discovers the real culprit (Cassandra) and snaps her neck.
Robosexual: Tom Skylark, apparently. He's good with machines. And depending on if that was all the mutants in the world who were blown up with the Xavier Institute, he and EVA may be the last people on the planet.
Robot Buddy: Rover in "Here Comes Tomorrow" is a sentient, slightly dimwitted Sentinel (one of the few still left on the planet) who is commanded by future X-Man Tom Skylark.
Rule of Symbolism: Here Comes Tomorrow has a ton of Revelation imagery; Sublime takes the form of "the Beast" and talks about all life receiving "his Mark," and his second-in-command, Apollyon, shares his name with the being prophesied to release the horrors of Hell to torment the wicked prior to Judgment Day, among them an endless plague of giant, human-faced locusts possibly represented by the Crawlers. In addition, the White Hot Room visually calls to mind Revelation's seriously mindscrewy version of Heaven, and the Phoenix herself the "Woman cloaked in sun" said to birth the world's savior. Word of God confirms Buddhist imagery as well, another basis for the White Hot Room being the crown chakra, which is also mentioned in the story as the place at which the Phoenix anchors itself to its host.
The Rule of Symbolism particularly comes into play with Sublime's decision to possess Hank McCoy for his final endgame, even though his only mutant powers are animalistic strength and senses. Story-wise, it stretches Willing Suspension of Disbelief a bit (Morrison specifically avoids saying how Sublime managed to conquer Earth and rule it for 150 years in Hank's body, and it's never explained why he didn't just do it when he was possessing Magneto or Quentin Quire), but it's allowed to slide because of the symbolic importance of Sublime using someone with the codename "Beast" as his host.
Genosha ceased to be a political entity, though it still occasionally shows up as a backdrop in some stories.
Professor Xavier's marriage to Empress Lilandra was officially annulled.
Wolverine's backstory was completely overhauled, with the revelation that his ordeal with Weapon X was merely the tenth in a series of similar experiments dating back to World War II.
Though the infamous "Xorneto" retcon established that Magneto wasn't really killed off, this run did mark the end of his role as a major villain in the series (as of this writing, he's allied with the X-Men).
In an interview toward the beginning of his run, Morrison stated that the entire purpose of it was essentially to shake up the X-Men status quo so much that it would be nigh-impossible to snap it back. He also appears to express his dislike for this trope through the mouth of Sublime in the final issue.
Sublime: The supermen fight and die and return in a meaningless shadowplay because we make them do it.
Stripperific: Emma - this is highlighted by the final issue (#156), which has a cover photo of her (wearing a skintight pantsuit) hugging Cyclops while looking devilishly into the camera as she sticks her butt out.
Stuffed into the Fridge: While this run is one of the biggest Base Breakers in X-Men history, the one thing about it everyone seems to agree on disliking is the treatment given to minor-but-beloved superheroines Risque and Darkstar; to wit, Risque has her organs harvested by the U-Men off-panel, and Darkstar is offhandedly shot by Fantomex—an action that he is actually praised for because she was Brainwashed and Crazy and trying to kill everyone.
Superman Stays Out of Gotham: Partially averted. Magneto says that he tricked the Avengers and Fantastic Four into going on a wild goose chase while he enacts his plan to exterminate the humans, but this doesn't explain why any of the myriad superheroes/superhero groups in the city don't do anything to help. There's no way Spider-Man, Daredevil or Luke Cage would have stood by while people were herded into gas chambers.
This is actually handwaved by Beak, who mentions that Magneto was keeping the other heroes busy with a false threat concerning a "black hole bomb" in Brooklyn.
There Are No Therapists: Averted - Emma takes over as the school's resident teacher/therapist, and ends up counseling many of the students.
Magneto: May the future forgive me. May history judge my actions, great or small. In the final reckoning... when I have given them paradise, and the world is free... those poor dead will not seem so many. Now, let the sky fall.
Was It All a Lie?: Esme's boyfriend Kato turned out to be a shapeshifting member of the Imperial Guard, Stuff. A shocked Esme mentions that "Kato" read her poetry and told her he loved her, to which Stuff coldly replies "and like a fool you believed me."
Wham Episode: The "Planet X" arc is a concentrated sequence of these - Xorn reveals that he's Magneto, Jean finds Logan alive and well at the asteroid, the asteroid is destroyed and Jean becomes the Phoenix again, Xavier is crippled (again), Magneto enacts his plan to kill all the humans in New York and many mutants are killed, including Magneto, Esme (one of the Stepford Cuckoos) and Jean, just before the last panel reveals that the Phoenix Force is alive and well hundreds of years in the future!
Wham Line: This is basically a Wham Series, so there are bound to be a few of these.
"Professor Xavier tried to kill his twin sister when they were both in the womb. We need to talk." - Issue #121; Jean and Emma suddenly realize who Cassandra really is after probing the Professor's memories (particularly striking, as it's the only line of dialogue in the entire issue).
"And it's Weapon Ten, not X." - Issue #129; Fantomex drops an essential piece of backstory as casually as if he were talking about the weather.
"What if the real enemy... was inside... all along?" - Issue #138; Kid Omega's Famous Last Words. Doesn't seem particularly whammy, until you reach the end of the series and realize this is far more literal than it sounds.
"X-Men emergency indeed, Charles... the dream is over." - Issue #146 - Xorn reveals his true identity (sort of).
"...call me SUBLIME." - Issue #152; the puppetmaster stands revealed, and it's... the Starter Villain? Did not see that coming.
Whole Plot Reference: The "Here Comes Tomorrow" arc is heavily influenced by The Wizard of Oz. Many of the characters are direct counterparts to those found in Oz (Tom and Rover are Dorothy and Toto, flying Nightcrawlers are the flying monkeys, Tito is the Cowardly Lion, etc.), and the ending strongly mirrors the film (someone wishes for something to be true, and goes to a wizard for help).
With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: Inverted this time with Jean and the Phoenix entity. It's implied that Jean only lost control because she was afraid of her power before, and repressed it. Now, she's out and proud, and completely in control of herself.
You Are Too Late: In the first issue, Scott and Logan nail Cassandra after a brief, tense battle with her nano-sentinels...only to find that she already sent them to Genosha and nearly killed almost everyone on the island.
Younger than They Look: Ernst is a little girl with super strength, but her mutation has made her look like a little old woman.