Every day this month, I will be examining the first pages of random comics. This month I will be doing theme weeks, with each week devoted to a single artist. This week: Frank Quitely! Today’s page is from X-Men #114, which was published by Marvel and is cover dated July 2001. Enjoy!
The first issue of the Grant Morrison run on X-Men (I refuse to use the adjective “new”) begins in Sydney, where Wolverine and Cyclops are destroying some sentinels. Quitely drew this, Tim Townsend inked it, Brian Haberlin colored it, and Comicraft lettered it. Let’s consider it, shall we?
So Morrison wants to show that the X-Men are super-tough, so the old-style sentinels don’t even matter to them. Scott is casually blasting the head of one while Logan takes out the body, and his dialogue is very matter-of-fact. It’s also fairly humorous, because it speaks to Wolverine’s reputation as a berserker – the sentinel is pretty much totally disabled, but Logan keeps hacking away at it.
Quitely’s page is interesting for several reasons. We begin with Logan, surrounded by the smoke gushing out of the sentinel, and he’s wearing the new “uniforms” of Morrison’s X-Men. Quitely’s sentinel is angled from Wolverine down to the bottom right, where Scott stands, and the stump of the hand points directly at Scott’s word balloons. Cyclops also has the new costume on, and Haberlin cleverly makes the yellow extremely bright against the dusky light of the waterfront. It draws attention to the new costume, which is probably the point. Scott’s eye beam lead us naturally back to the sentinel’s head and the explosion blowing out the back, and that allows us to spot the dude underneath the hand, which a reader might have missed if they were reading the page too quickly or if Quitely didn’t divert us from turning the page by forcing our eye back to the center instead of naturally going onto the next page. It’s an interesting way to stop us from doing what comes naturally, and Quitely manages it. We don’t get much of his askew character design, except for Steve/Ugly John’s bizarre face, which we almost pass over. Quitely makes sure we don’t though.
Quitely didn’t work with Morrison as much as promised on X-Men, but he did give us some nice issues. This is a nice first page that helps set the mood that Morrison was going for very well.
Next: Well, it ain’t Morrison, but will Neil Gaiman do? And, of course, there are archives. Always with the archives!