Just in time for Halloween, we’re back to feature all those creepy, kooky, and scary characters of comic book lore! This time, we’re going to take a look at monsters from the vaunted House of Ideas. So, enter, if you dare, for Comic Book Monsters 2012: The Mighty Merry Marvel Edition!
Comic Book Monsters – October 21st: Xorn
Okay, I could talk about the character of Xorn. I mean, technically, this whole series of articles is all about featuring characters that could, in one way or another, be considered “monsters”. However, Xorn is much more of an interesting character from a creation standpoint. Of all the characters associated with the X-Men, Xorn is undeniably a point of confusion, contention, and, at times, controversy. So, let’s begin with his creator, Grant Morrison.
I can’t help but use this opportunity to once again state that I’m really not a Grant Morrison fan. Don’t get me wrong, I think he’s a totally capable writer, but his wild card nature and seemingly insistent decisions ot throw fans for major loops can be awfully hit and miss. For me, it’s not really my thing. Others, however, are gigantic fans of Morrison’s work for his use to pull the rug out from under them and the use of metaphorical themes.
My first real major exposure to Grant Morrison’s work and how different he can be from other writers came much later in my comic book collecting/reading life. After a lot of talk about what he brought to the X-Men title, I checked it out. There were some controversies already out there about second mutations and a change to the characters’ costumes to a more uniform look. Frankly, my attention was had, not so much by the overly sexy (and bonkers) costume worn by Emma Frost on this team, but by a guy who wore a helmet that looked like a metallic skull by the name of Xorn.
Xorn wore the mask to hold in the massive amounts of energy that came off his head. The energy was so great, it could destroy the Earth if he removed it. When the X-Men found him, Xorn was in a bad way. He considered committing suicide by removing the helmet and ending everything. Cyclops and Emma convinced him of otherwise. With Xorn able to heal others, he’s able to help save the X-Men from an infection and restore Professor Xavier’s ability to walk (which was likely another controversy).
Once he joined the X-Men at the Xavier Institute, his demeanor seemed to be counter to what that suicidal man who was willing to destroy the world to end his own life. He’s seen as a optimistic person who is more than willing to share his thoughts and ideas with Professor X after the mind-reader was unable to look into his mind under the helmet. Xorn even gets put in charge of misfits who aren’t kind to him despite his attempts to befriend them.
Now, here’s where things get a little hairy. In a later storyline, Xorn removes his mask revealing himself to be Magneto. Mags was believed to be long dead after a massacre at hands of Sentinels on the mutant-controlled nation of Genosha. He recripples Xavier, and explains that his Xorn identity was just a gigantic ruse that helped him infiltrate the X-Men. He destroys the school and takes over New York City, turning it into a mutant run city where humans were hunted down. However, his recruits seem to be more rebellious and unresponsive, coming to grow more appreciative of Xorn’s more humane approach. Magneto is defeated by the X-Men, but not before he fatally wounds Jean Grey. In a rage over her death, Wolverine decapitates Magneto. It should be pointed out that Jean Grey has not been seen alive since this story (unless Hope Summers is actually a strange resurrection of Jean Grey, but I’ll let the X-Men fans dispute or debate that).
Morrison always intended Xorn to be Magneto believing that the cruel point of the character was that he had to be a fake. Fans would point out that the clues were scattered about the previous issues since his first appearance. When Chuck Austen came onto the book after Morrison’s departure, the editors at Marvel liked Xorn and didn’t want to lose Magneto. They hoped Morrison would change his mind about the characters’ usage but he never did. So they decided to immediately retcon what happened to Xorn and Magneto.
For this retcon, it’s revealed that Xorn really wasn’t Magneto. They explained it away as he was being mind controlled to believe he was Magneto. So, Magneto was not a cruel fascist who wanted to kill New Yorkers, and Xorn really was just a guy named Xorn. Xorn’s brother then appeared and took the mantle, but would later be one of the depowered mutants in the aftermath of House of M.
As far as Magneto is concerned, not only was he not killed in the Morrison story, but he wasn’t killed on Genosha either. He was also a victim of the Scarlet Witch’s “No More Mutants” proclamation. But in a New Avengers story, a man by the name of Michael Pointer was empowered by the abilities of 50 mutants who had lost their powers in the aftermath of House of M. This collection of powers is appropriately known as the Collective. When it finds Magneto on Genosha, he is given his powers back and discovers the dominate consciousness of the Collective is that of Xorn who explains his actions. Other references as to the mysterious circumstances of the Xorn/Magneto connection are made, but for the most part, the damage to the character and Morrison’s legacy on the X-Men title had been done.
Shen Xorn, the second Xorn who came forward after the original, Kuan-Yin Xorn, was killed or whatever happened, has not been used much since his first appearance. It’s shown that he lost his powers during House of M, but I like to think that it wasn’t Scarlet Witch who took Xorn off the table, but instead the editors at Marvel. Since the end of Avengers vs. X-Men found new mutants popping up all over the world, I wonder if he’s going to return, but it might just be better to leave this character buried deep and forgotten. Not because of who created him, but because Marvel did indeed make a mess of him that may not be something that could ever be cleaned up.
Okey-dokey… That brings to a close not just the 21st feature of this year, but the third week of Comic Book Monsters 2012. For the last ten features for this year, I’ve got some pretty big time stars lined up. How about we start those last ten days with someone whose idea of a soul mate is Death herself and suddenly caught the attention of millions of moviegoers when he made a surprise appearance at the end of the biggest movie of the year. Yup, it’s Thanos.