Saturday, August 28, 2010
X-men Legacy #239 - Clearer Awesome
In my previous review of X-men Legacy I made it clear that I wasn't cutting Mike Carey any extra slack. I love the guy and he still writes some of the best X-men comics in the biz, but even guys I love don't get a free pass to nix their first comic coming off a huge event. That would be like a teacher overlooking the fact that her favorite student answered on a test that George Washington was a defunct judge from Dancing with the Stars and Alexander Hamilton was the asshole who revealed the magician's secrets on those lame ass Fox shows back in the late 90s. Mike Carey's previous issue really was a disappointment in that it lacked the usual refinement his comics have. The plot was confusing, the pace was fucked up, and you needed to be just a little bit high not to notice how some of the plot points just didn't fit. However, Mike Carey has a proven track record of making up for the lousy issues every writer churns out from time to time. Does he continue it here? Yeah, like I'm going to say outright and dissuade more readers from following this blog.
The latest issue doesn't ignore the fact that the last one made about as much sense as a lecture on quantum mechanics by Paris Hilton. It directly confronts the painfully bland way in which the last issue ended, which involved a sentinel attacking Rogue, Magneto, and the rest of their little strike team on this mission. I know you would need a list that runs from New York to Istanbul to count all the times an X-men story has ended with a sentinel attacking, but so long as it still looks awesome why shouldn't the writers keep using it? If it ain't broke, don't fix it. Unless it involves anything Apple makes. If you do that voids the warranty.
There are some decent contributions from Rogue, Anole, and Magneto in the fight against the sentinel. Not surprisingly, the sentinel doesn't put up much of a fight. These once feared mutant hunting death machines have become about as defunct as the old Soviet Union. They should have fallen gracefully when they had the chance. It's still a decent scene, but it isn't just about the fight. Mike Carey's stories often revolve around characters and the sentinels didn't just come from out of the blue. Something did lead to them and that's where the real story picks up.
Those who read X-men Legacy #238 will recall a cute blond girl being part of some unknown floating base that somehow escaped. Now there was no back story that lead up to this girl. She wasn't surrounded by anywhere familiar and there was no real description of who she was, what she had done wrong, or why the hell she was even in this book to begin with. It made for one of those moments in comics when you scratch your head and reach for the ibuprofin tablets. It took an issue, but finally the story is clearing a few things up. This girl appears to have mutant powers that allow her to paint with light, but wasn't on the teaser for Generation Hope so it doesn't seem likely that she's one of the Five Lights. Of course, Rogue and the others don't know that. She isn't named, but being the nice people they are the X-men take her under their wing. That whole bit about her leading the sentinels to them is just water under the bridge I guess.
They bring her back to the estate of Paras family where they learn that he's getting married. Rather than spark an incessant barrage of squeals from the women, it's kind of a downer. I guess it's hard to get excited about marrying someone who he not only hasn't met before, but his brother was supposed to be the one to marry her. That should make for an exceedingly awkward honeymoon. If Jerry Springer was still on the air, he would be drooling over this story.
Paras is still playing the part of an obedient Indian son. That doesn't make his parents any less the douche-bags they are. Plus there's the whole prospect of this girl he's never met having to marry a guy with purple skin. Too bad in India girls don't have the luxury of picking who they have to spread their legs for out of duty to the family. It puts Paras in an awkward position, but one he can't easily escape from. It's another one of those great character moments that should make fans of Mike Carey's work coo.
This family drama is tough enough, but there is still a mission to be done. The point of this whole India trip as established earlier was for Magneto to investigate these strange storms as they were described. Magneto and Rogue take a moment to discuss this mission that takes a number of reminders to be clear on. Even though Magneto is a massive tool, he's not dumb. When they investigated the latest storm, they didn't just get attacked by a sentinel. Some weird blond girl fell out of the sky. Now usually that's the first stage in a typical male fantasy, except she's usually wearing a cheerleader outfit. But considering she brought a giant robot with her that kills the boner and raises some suspicion.
The girl herself doesn't seem too excited or enthused about her situation. All she really does is hang around, show off her powers, and basically take up space. She's essentially that annoying background character in every movie that does nothing and lofts about while the main characters talk about how the world is going to come to an end. It's nice that she's so calm with that even if it does make her a bit of a douche. She's still pretty vague about who she is, but it helps build the mystery. Who doesn't want to be a little curious about a super-powered blond?
While this girl is goofing around, Paras meets his blushing bride to be. She's not ugly by any measure. Hell, she's more than doable. However, she looks about as thrilled to be married as she would be if she were getting root canals. At the very least she's not put off by him being a mutant. She even seems fascinated about America. That's still not a foundation to build a whole freakin' marriage around. But it could be worse. Jerry Springer probably doesn't have them on speed dial anymore. It's actually a bit more realistic and for a comic like X-men that's refreshing since there's only so much giant robot attacks readers can take.
This down-to-Earth plot quickly heads back up into the skies of crazy-land when the next scene deals with those robot-loving assholes who had that blond girl imprisoned in the previous issue. Like that girl, there's no real explanation as to who these guys are. They look like a cheap SWORD knock-off, except they don't have a pretty green-haired woman running the show. They come off as the typical douche-bags who would abduct a cute blond and not have a good reason for it. They talk as though someone butchered their dog, fucked it, and then mailed the corpse. It's exceedingly dramatic and since there's no real sense of who these characters are, it doesn't have much impact.
This annoying scene lasts only a page though. So I guess that's something positive. At the same time it really doesn't answer any questions. It continues the overall disjointed pace that this book has been following since the previous issue. It's not quite as bad, but it's still there and Mike Carey should be better than this.
However, the man isn't without his sense of humor. The very next scene is something that plays with the senses a bit. Apparently that blond they rescued has a playful sense of humor. By playful I mean she uses her light powers to make an image of her and Paras (you know, the guy he's getting married) in a very compromising and very naked position. It's quite a sight and makes for a hilarious turn in a comic that really hasn't had many to this point. It further proves the addage that there are few things in this world that can't be enhanced with the proper application of nudity.
This girl, who suddenly has the name Luisa, gets chewed out by Paras's father. That's not saying much though. That's like being called a douche-bag by Andy Dick. So she has to basically take down her little masterpiece and run off to make softcore porn on her own time, but not before taking a shot at Indian wedding traditions. If this comic made it to India, I'm pretty sure a lot of people would be asking for Mike Carey's head on a platter.
The girl is unapologetic though just as you would expect any teenage girl to be. That doesn't stop Magneto from giving her a lecture. Because let's face it, who is a better influence on super-powered teenage girls than Magneto (that was sarcasm by the way). As big an asshole he is, he does finally get some answers out of her. She reveals that the floating structure she came from is called Quitado. Magneto demands more answers. She claims not to have them. He's not convinced. If he were a car salesmen he would have control of Frod and GM by now (which isn't saying much I guess).
He still doesn't get the answers he wants. So what's Magneto's solution? He wants Rogue to absorb her. That goes over about as well as a proposal to escort him to the nearest S&M club wearing nothing but a ball gag, a leash, and thigh-high boots. He points out she's been okay with it in the past. Rogue reminds him how fondly she remembers that by slugging him across the face. For anybody thinking there was still some chemistry between those two, this should prove they're no more fit to be together than Paras in his blushing bride to be (who he never even met before). It's a very satisfying scene because let's face it, if anybody had a chance to punch Magneto in the face they would do it. It just makes Rogue more awesome than she already is.
The whole time Luisa is listening in on this and decides not to stick around less Magneto convince Rogue otherwise. She ends up paying Paras a visit because apparently just making images of them boning isn't enough for her. She gives him the typical lecture that what he's doing is stupid and the whole issue about family obligations and duty are a load of bullshit. In other words she says everything the Christian Right frowns upon. This not being enough, she has the balls to kiss him. It shows that perhaps making an image of them naked wasn't just for kicks. She seriously wants to bone the guy. Anytime a pretty blond wants to bone you, that's a pretty memorable day in the life of any young man. Paras, being the guy he is, pushes back. Even the power of hot blonds cannot dissuade him. It's either very noble or horrendously stupid. His dick probably hates him now.
Before she steps up her efforts and starts showing Paras her tits, Magneto and Rogue enter the room. They don't seem to care that she's tempting a guy about to get married. They want to know what she knows about the storms. She's clearly hiding something and they want to figure it out so they can decide if rescuing her was worth the trouble. She's seems ready to crack when (cue the drum roll) another surprise attack interrupts them. Only this time it's not a giant robot. It's those same assholes from Quitado who happened to be dressed like a totally gay version of Comic Con. They're still talking like Thor after he's watched Shakespeare in Love and they demand they give Luisa back. So once again the comic ends on the prospect of a big fight. It's not a giant robot, but it's still pretty awesome looking. Hopefully this fight is a lot more eventful than simply busting up an old robot.
So to go back to the question posed earlier, does this issue redeem the shortcomings of the previous issue? Well if this were a baseball game, it certainly wouldn't be a grand slam. This issue is a lot easier to follow than the previous issue and there are a lot more coherent plots to follow. There are some answers with respect to the girl and the jerk offs chasing after her. There are also some compelling developments with Paras and his ongoing family drama. Plus Rogue punches Magneto and there's some assorted nudity. That alone does bump this issue up in terms of quality compared to the previous issue. However, there are still a lot of unanswered questions. Even for those Carey tried to answer, they didn't have much impact.
It's still an interesting story to follow. Mike Carey's characterization is still as solid as ever and the art is very nicely done. There are a few spotty transitions, but nowhere near what was in the previous issue. It's not a vast improvement, but it is an improvement. I gave the last issue of Legacy a 3 out of 5. To reflect the improvement in this issue I give it a 3.5 out of 5. I'm tempted to give it higher, but I would rather wait to see how Mike Carey finishes these plots. Perhaps as the events of the next issue unfold, the previous two issues will make more sense. Until then, it's still under par compared to what Carey is usually capable of. However, it is progress and despite what assholes like Glenn Beck says progress is a good thing.