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Should Quentin Quire Be at the Jean Grey School?

When Grant Morrison took over on New X-Men he explored an aspect of the X-Men that I feel has been overlooked too often - the idea of mutant culture.  Mutants, just like any other group of people (especially persecuted people) would have their own culture.  Indeed, he even introduced the idea of Mutant Town/District X, another neighborhood like Chinatown in New York City.  Mutant culture had its own musicians and fashion designers catering to their experiences and needs.  It is the death of one such fashion designer that inspires Quentin Quire, another Morrison creation, to form up a group of students who view Magneto in the same way that kids today view Che or Karl Marx.  Like so many high school and college kids, things seem so simple to Quire - Magneto was right!

Quentin Quire seems to be an argument in favor of letting authors have the ability to determine the fate of characters they created remain unmolested by future authors.  Quire is an immensely powerful telepath - Morrison created him that way because he wanted a student who could be a challenge to the X-Men.  Up until now, if any of the kids had rebelled against Xavier, it rarely led to any serious consequences.  Yet, at this school were hundreds of kids with all kinds of devastating powers.  And, since the mutant story has always been partly a metaphor of teenagers and body changes, we’re talking kids who have the ability to destroy the world and the hormones to allow it to happen along with the idealism I mentioned before.  But if any students had previously contemplated a riot, they knew they would be hopeless against the X-Men.  Quire, on the other hand, had the powers and the self-confidence to hold a riot at Xavier’s while the school was trying to do an outreach program to show that mutants aren’t evil.

At the end of the story, Morrison essentially kills off Quire.  He doesn’t out and out kill him, but it’s pretty clear that Morrison understood that his character was too powerful to exist in any other way.  He’s just too overpowered - just like Franklin Richards - but that’s a story for another day.  In fact, while his powers were augmented with the mutant drug kick (another great idea) it took all five of the Stepford Cuckoos to take him out.  

I didn’t read the other story he was featured in involving the Phoenix, but when he was the catalyst that started the events of Schism, I groaned.  When he ended up at the Jean Grey School in Wolverine and the X-Men I groaned even louder.  He was essentially back in the place where he famously took on the X-Men only how his shenanigans were annoying.  He was pretending to be a rebel instead of being one - acting petulant, but not actually using his powers like he did before.  And this is the biggest failure of Jason Aaron’s return of Quentin Quire to the X-Men.  He’s a lovable scoundrel (see the recent issue where he went with Wolverine to rob a casino), not a true British punk rock rebellious youth.  Aaron has Quire constantly complaining that he doesn’t want to be there.  I don’t think anyone there would be powerful enough to stop him from leaving.  (Of course, I think that the Avengers said they’d be after him if he left)

So perhaps he’s stuck there, but why doesn’t he make life a living hell for everyone all the time?  If he’s miserable, so, too, should everyone else also be miserable.  We’re seeing a glimpse of this in the Wolverine and the X-Men: Alpha & Omega mini-series.  While I started having these thoughts about Quire’s suitability as a character in the main book from the beginning, the mini-series has both served as an outlet to show how powerful he is as well as prove my point.  In the mini-series Quire creates a mental construct and traps Wolverine and Armor in there.  While the mini-series isn’t over yet and we don’t know how this ends up affecting everyone, it does show that Quire’s powers are strong enough to mess with Wolverine whenever he wants.  So why would he ever have to put up with anything he doesn’t want to while he’s there?  And if Quire can do whatever he wants with the threat of incapacitating the headmaster or other teachers, he should either do it to be true to his character or he needs to grow a little.  

I think my feelings on the subject will probably hinge on the ending to the mini-series and how that transfers back into the main book.  Comics, like soap operas and other never-ending bits of fiction, need to balance character predictability with character growth.  That’s why it’s taken fifty or so years for Cyclops to grow from teacher’s pet to kicking Xavier out of the X-Men to becoming an “end justifies the means” person that even Magneto finds a bit excessive.  So Quire needs to have a bit of growth if he’s going to fit in at the school, but I’m sure Jason Aaron still wants him to be a punk.  As long as we have a believable reason why he’s not as tough as he projects on the outside (which we saw a little bit of when he worked with Krakoa in the first story arc of Wolverine and the X-Men), I’m willing to accept Quire at the school.  But the writers have some work to do to get to that point.


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