Issue #114, Page 23: E is for Extinction (Sentinel Revealed)

New X-Men
© 2001 Marvel Characters, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

NEW X MEN (2001)
by Grant Morrison, Frank Quitely & Tim Townsend
Issue #114, Page 23: E is for Extinction
Sentinel Reveal Splash Page
Graphite and ink on board
Signed by Grant Morrison
11" x 17"

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After proving that he could take a failing series back to number one with JLA, Morrison was lured to Marvel with an offer of complete creative control over The X-Men. Again, Morrison's revamping of a major superhero team proved to be a critical and commercial success, with the title jumping to #1 and established Morrison as the kind of creator whose name on a title would guarantee sales.

With JLA, Grant Morrison took the titans of the DC line-up and made all of their adventures epic in scope. With New X Men, he dissolved the superheroes down to their biological essence. He did away with their outdated superhero costumes and dressed them uniformly, in sleek, black leather. Rather than flaunt their abilities, the new focus was far more introspective. Instead of globe-trotting, intergalactic adventures, most of the battles in his book were philosophical or chemical, and often took place within proximity of Xavier’s School. He shifted the parable of mutant hatred from an analogy of racism to an analogy of all prejudice, whether based on race, sexuality or ideology. His fictional destruction of Genosha preceded 9/11 by two published months, and the seeds of that tragedy are present on this splash page, which also happens to be the final page of the very first issue of Grant Morrison’s New X Men. This is the great Sentinel reveal that results in the deaths of 16 million people in the Great Genoshan Massacre.

While Morrison’s ideas are often groundbreaking, Frank Quitely’s redesign of the X-Men team was deliriously more so. More than just offering a more contemporary look and feel via the new uniforms, his renditions of Beast (whose mutation crosses gender) and The White Queen (supermodel sexy) are quintessential. His re-imagination of the giant, robot Sentinels included a missing biological-nanotech element that enhanced believability of the sci-fi elements of Morrison’s writing. Morrison has often done his finest work with Frank Quitely, and their work has often been rewarded. The E for Extinction plot, which kicked off Morrison’s 41-issue run, was nominated for the 2002 Best Serialized Story Eisner Award, and was a mere harbinger of what was to come.

New X Men #114, page 23 is a Frank Quitely splash page, which would by itself warrant inclusion in any survey of modern comic art. But as the final page of the very first Morrison New X Men comic, and bearing the significance of the events that spiral from this one image, the status of this particular example of original production art is elevated from important to iconic.


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