Tomorrow Already Came

1

April 17, 2015 by NowhereButPop

by Andrew Doscas

Is it a reimagining of the Book of Revelations?  Is it a retelling of The Wizard of Oz?  Is it a cheap rip-off of Days of Future Past?  These are all working theories as to what exactly, Here Comes Tomorrow, the last arc of Grant Morrison’s run as writer of New X-Men, was all about.  No one really knows for certain, and if X-Men teaches us anything, it’s that people hate what they don’t understand, which explains why most fans, even those who loved Morrison’s take on the merry mutants, hated Here Comes Tomorrow.  What people don’t realize however, is that along with Planet X (another reviled storyline) and E is for Extinction, Here Comes Tomorrow is one of the most thematically important arcs in Morrison’s run.

The biggest complaints that people have about Here Comes Tomorrow is that the narrative is lazy and that the storytelling is sloppy, ultimately leading to an anticlimactic and frivolous ending.  But, with a writer as notoriously meticulous as Grant Morrison, readers have to be aware that everything he does has a distinct purpose to it, even if the execution fails.  Fans tend to view Here Comes Tomorrow as the epilogue to Morrison’s run, with the climax being Planet X, however, the secret truth is that it’s actually Here Comes Tomorrow that serves as the true climax of Morrison’s seminal run.  Those four issues build on most of the major plotlines over the previous 40 issues, as well as fully demonstrating the more implicit themes of his run.  In short, it’s the perfect sendoff for everything that Morrison had hoped to accomplish will writing New X-Men.

Seriously…where the fuck did this come from.

In order to really appreciate Here Comes Tomorrow, you have to look at it as the climax, or else everything falls apart.  That’s the key to understanding this arc- It’s not a half assed filler story; it’s the denouement, the story that brings everything together.  The Phoenix, Sublime and the drug kick, Cassandra Nova, Weapon Plus, and a few other ideas that Morrison had introduced all tie into this story which is sent 150 years into the future.  It’s also the most illustrative demonstration of the most ever-present and permeating idea of his entire run: evolution.  Call it change, adaptation, or growth, the ideas are the same; Morrison wanted the characters to grow in ways that hadn’t been done in over a decade by that point.  Emma Frost was now a hero, Cyclops embarked on an affair with Emma Frost, Beast suffered from anxiety, Wolverine (supposedly) discovered the truth about his past, and Professor Xavier was outed as a mutant.  Change.  Real, tangible change for a franchise that had become weighted down by its status quo.

Keeping this theme of evolution in mind, Morrison’s run also served as a meta indictment of everything that the franchise had become, a stagnant behemoth choking on its own bloat and strangled by its continuity.  Although the idea of a prokaryote being the villainous mastermind behind all the anti-mutant hysteria is absurdly absurd, looking at what Sublime is- A force that that fights against change and growth because it has no place in the future, having the X-Men fight against a stagnant force speaks volumes about what kind of a point Morrison was trying to make.  The worst enemy that the X-Men will ever face is redundancy, a proliferation of ideas that just don’t work.  Doesn’t it make even more sense then that the X-Men’s greatest battle would take place not in the present, but at some later point in time?

Sublime – A cross between Stalin, Bob Harras, and gram negative bacteria.

If the X-Men’s greatest battle was their argument fight with a drug addicted Magneto Xorn(?) it would imply that after that battle, the X-Men’s best days would have been behind them, that every other conflict would have paled in comparison to that one battle.  Setting the environment in the future then not only implies that their biggest fights are ahead of them, it also symbolizes the idea that their best days could be ahead of them as well.[1]  The future landscape of Here Comes Tomorrow reminds us that even though the past was great, there will still be stories that need to be told in the future.  This new world is only brought into existence, because it can’t let go of the past.  No one was able to get over the fact that Cyclops left the X-Men, and so the world fell apart with the forces of stagnation and obsolescence resting one scant night away from victory.

150 years into the future, the X-Men will still continue to fight their wars, and the somber reality that they live in reinforces the monstrous threat that they face.  For the X-Men of the future, they are too concerned with the past as that had led to their current predicament.  As they try to survive the latest menace, and just as they soldier through, so too does the franchise have to solider on.  It can’t simply wallow in the past or try to recreate it, the X-Men as a series have to endure and move forward.  The idea that there will be later, bigger fights, specifically the fight to save all of creation, is a metaphor for the X-Men franchise, telling us that for a series revolving around a bunch of individuals pushing change and reform, there can be no permanent climax.  There always has to be something bigger, better, and deadlier on the horizon.  Here Comes Tomorrow is exactly that.  The franchise has to be malleable and adaptable, and having an omniscient climax is the antithesis of growth, because it means that there will be a permanent ending thereafter, or that the series would stagnate and slowly decay as was the state of the X-Men franchise before Grant Morrison took over.

Thematically, Here Comes Tomorrow is a gloriously cerebral dissection of the X-Men franchise.  In and of itself, it serves as a microcosm for ­New X-Men as a whole.  In terms of overall storytelling, Morrison’s final arc is not without its flaws however.  It doesn’t suffer from the nonsensical inanities of Murder at the Mansion nor is it as purposefully misdirecting or useless as Assault on Weapon Plus, the two worst stories penned by Morrison.[2]  Although I really think that Grant Morrison tried to reveal all of the cards up his sleeve, I think the story overall lacks a certain focus.  In typical Morrison fashion, things that really should be further explained or explored take a back seat, while lesser important aspects of the story are reiterated again and again.

The most explicit theme of Here Comes Tomorrow is that the X-Men, and the entire world need Cyclops in order to survive. The fate of the world thus depends on Emma Frost seducing Cyclops.

The first time I read Here Comes Tomorrow, I was really intrigued by the Proud People, and what exactly there story was…we only see them for four pages as they’re being slaughtered.  Who were they?  Where did they come from?  How did they get the Phoenix Egg?  Furthermore, Here Comes Tomorrow reveals that the Stepford Cuckoos are in fact a part of the Weapon Plus Program as Weapon XIV.  Now, this seems like a pretty major development, especially since this was the writer that created the Weapon Plus Program, and Weapon XII, XIII, and XV.  But the reveal of Weapon XIV is mentioned as throwaway line, and then never referenced at any point afterwards.[3]  It quite literally came out of nowhere and then went nowhere.

Maybe it’s because I’m a history buff, but a little background information on how we got to this abysmal shithole of a future would be nice too.  A little more Henry McCoy as a drug addict, or the rise of Sublime, or the rehabilitation of Cassandra Nova would have sufficed as well.[4]  In order to connect with the X-Men of the future, we need to know who they are and what they’re background is, otherwise they seem like random flotsam.  We don’t need to see the Beast genetically engineer three different breeds of monsters on three separate occasions.  We get it, he’s an albino prick with a Napoleonic complex!  The faux romance between Tom Skylark and E.V.A. is also completely misplaced as it makes no sense and only serves to take up valuable space that would have been better utilized fleshing out what is otherwise a deeply intriguing apocalyptic world.

For an article that’s supposed to be in defense of Here Comes Tomorrow, I’m slinging quite a bit of mud its way. I know how good of a story it could have been, and seeing the things that throws the story off kilter is just way too frustrating.  Beside the lumbering sentinel Rover, and the forced romance between E.V.A. and Tom Skylark, I really don’t have any problems with the core story or the ideas presented, it’s just that a lot of these ideas are underdeveloped or misdirected.  A closer examination of the Xavier institute of tomorrow would have been the perfect way to compare the X-Men of the future to the ones that we already know.  The only new character that we’re exposed to however is Beak.  Although he’s a great addition to the cast, he’s not given as big of a spotlight as he deserved.  Fantomex as the last U-Man is a great concept…explain it more.  A rehabilitated Cassandra Nova is a really intriguing idea…explain it more.  How did these things happen?  Ideas that would have fleshed out and explored this new reality to imbue it with a greater degree of urgency are ignored while concepts that we are already familiar with, like the Phoenix, like Wolverine, are needlessly reiterated.  It’s a shame though that when most people read Here Comes Tomorrow this is what they see.

Fantomex in his new latex gimp suit, courtesy of Sublime.

When you know what to look for, Here Comes Tomorrow is a meta examination of the state of the X-Men franchise.  It’s literally a fight between the X-Men and stagnation.  And in light of AvX, the visualization of Sublime using the Phoenix, a force for change and growth, becomes even more powerful.  Sublimes’ subversion of the Phoenix is a manipulation of this force to work against itself and promote stagnation.  AvX used the Phoenix Force in the worst way- As a crutch and as a cliché unto itself.  In the years since Morrison’s run, the Phoenix Force has become a symbol of stagnation and clichéd storytelling, the worst that the X-Men have to offer, as it’s been overly used as a deus ex machina to push across a new status quo.  This former symbol of all that was great about the X-Men has now come to represent everything that is wrong with the franchise.  Looking back on Here Comes Tomorrow and hindsight being what it is, Morrison is telling us that this never should have happened.  The Phoenix Force was what propelled the X-Men into becoming the juggernaut that it had become.  But eventually, it became indicative of the stagnation and lazy storytelling that plagued the series.

We read a Grant Morrison comic for certain reasons; we know what we’re going to get.  We read his comics for the psychedelic storylines and the deconstructive themes, not for the dialogue or for an emotional core.  Here Comes Tomorrow is a massive undertaking, rife with deconstructive paradigms and meta concepts, with a plot more evocative of Lewis Carroll than of Chris Claremont.  Is it a perfect story?  No, it’s not; in fact it does have its fair share of flaws, but it’s not nearly as bad as people would lead you to believe.  The problem is that people don’t want to see it for what it really is: A microcosmic state of the union address for the entire franchise.  But, Morrison really did try to make a statement.  If nothing else, that statement, that indictment of the franchise made its way into the comic without compromise, and for that Here Comes Tomorrow is well worth the read.


[1] Or if you’re completely cynical, it means that the future of the X-Men franchise is going to get much, much worse.

[2] Maybe ever.

[3] Maybe that’s because the sisters were gutted like fish right after they said that they were Weapon XIV.  But then again, there was no reference in any issue prior that these weird Scandinavian girls were mutant hunting weapons.

[4] Because that apparently happens at some point.  But with no reference, it’s kinda hard to accept since the last time we saw her she was running around the galaxy as a naked old white guy trying to commit genocide three times over.

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One thought on “Tomorrow Already Came

  1. Gokitalo says:

    Nice review! You definitely hit the nail on the head when it came to what “Here Comes Tomorrow” was about. I was re-reading part of it just now and while the ending is still a bit confusing, there’s quite a bit to like about the story. There are a few things about your review I’d like to point out, though:

    1. They’re actually not called the Forever People, but the Proud People. I would have loved to see more of them, too! Some fans speculate that they may have been Eternals, as seen here:
    http://forum.rpg.net/archive/index.php/t-140107.html

    2. The reveal that the Stepford Cuckoos/Three-In-One were really Weapon XIV really casts their addition to the Xavier Institute in a very interesting light. Basically, they were Sublime’s agents at the Mansion– another example of Sublime being “the enemy inside,” but in a different way. Morrison never reveals much about the Cuckoos’ backstory, but one wonders if maybe they rebelled from Weapon Plus the way Fantomex did, or, as Greg Pak posited, their connection to Sublime was hidden even from them. Clearly, they weren’t actively working for Sublime, save Esme, although it doesn’t seem she was aware of it, either– otherwise, Jean, Emma, or another telepath might have figured it out. I don’t think we learn how Esme got ahold of Kick, but it worked out rather perfectly for Sublime, since it allowed the sentient bacteria to take control over Esme again… without her knowledge. They (the bacteria) even almost took over the rest of the Cuckoos through Esme too, although that attempt was thwarted by Sophie.

    3. Cassandra’s rehabilitation was actually something we saw quite a bit of in Morrison’s later half of the run… but without knowing it until issue #153. That’s the issue where Cassandra reveals that she was Ernst, the young girl with the aged face who was a part of Xorn’s special class. At the end of “Imperial,” her mind had become practically childlike and trapped in the body of a shapeshifting alien (Stuff), so the implication is that she morphed her body to a younger form (save the face) to reflect her mental age. A lot of writers subsequently ignored this reveal, unfortunately…

    4. Last one! I agree that E.V.A. and Tom Skylark’s romance did seem a little forced, but I wouldn’t call it nonsensical. Tom’s had an intimate (albeit non-romantic) relationship with A.I. his whole life– he mentions in the story that Rover raised him, so it’s natural for Tom to feel affection for sentient machines.

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