Cover Versions is proud to present a 5 part essay series about the common threads found in Grant Morrison’s New X-Men, & The Beatles Abbey Road, written by Mike Smith. A new chapter will be released every Friday. Original art by Stephanie Lantry
By nature there is latitude given when it comes to evaluating art. Art isn’t math, after all. There are no hard lines and rules with only correct and incorrect answers. But still, a few things are obvious, one of which is that works are best compared to other works within the same medium. A movie is different from a painting, a sculpture is different from an interpretive dance, and an opera is different from an op-ed piece (and yes, there is an art to op-ed pieces). Each medium has its own standards, its own tropes and its own way of interacting with an audience. We may cry both at a photograph and at a play, but what mechanisms made each evoke tears is different. Thus one can be forgiven if the idea of comparing a comic book to a rock album seems like at best a stretch and at worst a pretentious act of sophistry. However, there are instances when the commonalities between two works, be they structure or theme or even intent, reach across the chasm between respective mediums and elucidate one another.
The Beatles album Abbey Road and Grant Morrison’s New X-Men are two such works. Despite being of mediums about as divorced in form from one another as can be (one is an album of rock music that clocks in at 47 minutes, the other a comic book run that unspooled over three years), the two are complementary works sharing strong commonalities. Each recapitulates its subject’s respective body of work, revisiting the tropes that define The Beatles and The X-Men. Further, both don’t stop at recapitulation but dig deeper by cleverly inverting these tropes and sussing a new experience out of a familiar one. But more than exploration of form, both Abbey Road and New X-Men share a deep thematic sympatico. Each is a chronicle of dissolution and, perhaps more importantly, each is also a testament of love’s ultimate triumph.