Both Abbey Road and New X-Men exhibit a tendency to take the familiar and upend it, giving the listener/reader a new experience that still retains the shape of the old. For example, while “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer” has all the musical charm of earlier McCartney “old-timey” ditties, its lyrics are uncommonly dark. The song details the life of a serial killer, one young Maxwell, who manages to murder a young woman, teacher and a judge all while amassing a collection of groupies that proclaim Maxwell’s innocence. In a lot of ways the song paints a picture as dark as anything Lennon ever wrote (including Rubber Soul’s “Run for Your Life”), but McCartney’s easy, humorous delivery coupled with some exceptionally warm moog work by Harrison disguises the darkness and makes it go down a bit easier.
The astute reader may have noticed that so far in this essay no mention has been made of the songs George Harrison contributed to Abbey Road. This seeming oversight will now be explained because Abbey Road’s greatest inversion is the figure of George Harrison himself and the nature of his songs within The Beatles catalogue.
While his musical contributions to the album replicate his musicianship and skills as a songwriter present in earlier work, their lyrical content is a complete departure. Save a few pro-forma love songs early in their career, the songs Harrison previously wrote for the Beatles consisted of two types:
1) Songs calling out people for their bad behavior or their inability to return love and
2) Songs about spirituality and enlightenment that manage to squeeze a verse in calling out other people for failing to be spiritual and enlightened.
On Abbey Road, Harrison does a 180 and offers songs concerned only with love and beauty. “Something” and “Here Comes the Sun” give uplifting messages of requited love and renewed hope. These two songs express an unreserved joy and, importantly, gratitude totally at odds with the wary and judgmental tenor of Harrison’s previous work. That these songs were recorded at a time when the band was disintegrating is no accident, but more on that later.
Keeping George Harrison in mind, let us now turn our focus back to New X- Men. There we will find a figure who very much reflects this same kind of inversion. A character who is, for all intents and purposes, the George of the whole run; a cynical outsider now dedicated to the preservation of love: Namely, Logan.
X-Men lore has long established Logan as the greatest threat to Scott Summers and Jean Grey’s relationship. Logan developed feelings for Jean almost immediately after he joined the X-Men. Feeling which were to some degree reciprocated as Jean expressed her own attraction to Logan. However, her love for Scott always won out in the end. Add to this the rough-and-rebellious Logan’s somewhat contentious relationship with the straight-laced Scott and you have the perfect recipe for a tense love triangle of unrequited feelings and sublimated desires.
Early in New X-Men it looks as if there’s going to be a dramatic turn in this love triangle. In issue #114 Logan remarks on a growing tension in Scott and jean’s marriage, seeming as if he’s belittling Scott about it. Then in issue #117 Jean Grey, distanced from Scott in the wake of his possession by Apocalypse (see The Twelve storyline) and confused by
the reawakening of the Phoenix force within her, makes a pass at Logan. Here is the moment Logan has been waiting years for. But instead of giving in to temptation he resists. After sharing a brief kiss he pushes her away saying, “It never worked and it never will.”
Much later, during the “Assault on Weapon Plus” arc, it is Scott who comes to Logan or, better put, runs into him. Despondent over jeopardizing his marriage to Jean by engaging in a psychic affair with Emma Frost, Scott goes on a bender at the Hellfire Club. At the club he finds none other than Logan who is there simply to enjoy some alone time with a bottle of Jack Daniels. This is the perfect time for Logan to twist the knife but instead he talks Scott down out of his tower of guilt and gets him focused on what he does best: being a hero. Logan and Scott have always had a borderline adversarial relationship but here we see Logan acting out of a deeper sense of camaraderie. He makes it clear to Scott that he respects him and that Scott is the first person he’d want fighting along side him. Logan’s role as the great destabilizing force in Jean and Scott’s interpersonal lives is completely inverted. Like George, Logan serves the greater cause of love just as love fails those around him.