Saturday, May 21, 2011

X-men Legacy #248 - Age of Awesome

I have a confession to make. It involves a little blasphemy so all you religious types might want to look away. I can't spend every hour of every day reviewing comics and writing X-men Supreme. I know it's shocking. I wish it were different, but unfortunately God only made the days 24 hours long and there's only one day to rest and I spend most of that day getting drunk. I bring this up because there was a time when I gave thorough reviews to X-men Legacy comics. I wasn't shy about it. I love Mike Carey and the work he does on this title. However, circumstances sort of bit me in the ass like Courtney Love in heroin withdrawal.

After the last X-men Legacy issue, Mike Carey began a crossover series called Age of X. It was like Age of Apocalypse in that it involved an alternate reality where the X-men were never formed. Unlike Age of Apocalypse, it wasn't a shitty 90s gimmick that some writers used as a hall pass to fuck with certain characters in ways they probably still jerk off to. Age of X actually did affect the 616 universe in a profound way. That way didn't become clear until it was over, which happened to occur in New Mutants #25. I did follow the series. I enjoyed it. The problem was, it I didn't find it nearly as excited as what was going on in 616. Uncanny X-Force, Generation Hope (at least the early issues), Uncanny X-men, Wolverine, and X-23 left me with a full plate of quality X-books. As some of you may know, I do have to pay the fucking bills so I can only make so many reviews each week. Unfortunately, Age of X and X-men Legacy was the odd man out. I hope I can try and make up for it here.

This coming week is another busy week full of X-books I plan to review. However, I would be doing X-men Legacy and Mike Carey a disservice by completely ignoring this series. Now that Age of X is over and the aftermath has set in, it's the perfect time to get a little drunk and offer my full assessment. X-men Legacy #248 begins shining the balls of shit left behind by Age of X. In the first few pages, Carey offers a basic explanation for anybody who was stupid enough to skip Age of X (a million flogs with Zach Galafanakis's pubic hair for those that don't check it out). What happened is Dr. Nemesis tried to cure Legion's schizophrenic mind, which is like trying to cure a snake-bite by deep-throating a Black Mamba. As a result, he one-upped the God of the Old Testament and rewrote a new reality. In this reality, the douche-bags who want to use mutants for target practice ruled supreme and there were no X-men to stop them. Without getting into too much detail, it fucked everybody up in ways that even German fetish porn couldn't match.

Once Legion decided to stop being such a dickcheese and dissolved the shitty world he created, everything went back to normal. Unfortunately, everybody still had the lifetime of shitty memories. That's two lives in one brain and some of these characters didn't have very happy lives to begin with. There's only so much fucked-upedness that one can take so Emma Frost offers to suppress memories. She claims brainwashing is a dangerous and unethical solution, but for a woman who once did dangerous and unethical things at the Hellfire Club before breakfast it seems like a weird thing for her to say. Mike Carey is usually good at having a strong handle on certain characters. Emma Frost shouldn't bat an eye at the unethical, given what she probably has in her underwear drawer.

Not surprisingly, many opt to have their brain cells forcibly rewired or destroyed. You could do the same thing with paint thinner, but Emma and the Cuckoos are hot blondes with big boobs so that softens the blow. Among those include Namor, Iceman, Pixie, Cannonball, and Armor. Although I'm a little surprised Namor wanted his memories wiped because they included memories of him giving Storm the Atlantean cuttlefish treatment and who wouldn't want to enjoy memories of that? Granted, it would piss Black Panther off, but who gives a shit about what he thinks? He's married to Storm and doesn't even show up in the fucking X-books. So fuck him. But that's a sore subject I'd rather not excessively itch.

While some are trying to prevent themselves from going crazy, Dr. Nemesis and Professor Xavier are addressing someone who already is crazy. Since Legion clearly screwed the pooch and every other rabid dog scheduled to be put down, it's painfully obvious that he needs to get that schizophrenia of his under control. Unfortunately, heavy meds aren't enough for him. Dr. Nemesis assembles a device that allows Legion to take on one of his personalities without it trying to fuck him (and everyone else by default) up. It's a little contrived in that it works. If only Nemesis had done this from the beginning, the whole Age of X bullshit could have been avoided.

It seems like a missed opportunity in a ways because after the shit Legion pulled, it's painfully obvious that he's a dangerous and unstable schizo. After enduring Age of X, dealing with him would suddenly be a much more difficult issue. By having Nemesis slap on some hardware that basically fixes it, that potential is basically resolved with the equivalent of an Gameshark cheat code. It's a bland way to resolve Legion's madness, especially after Age of X gave it a whole new level of insanity.

The next issue is one that should most definitely come up in other books like Uncanny X-men. So Kieron Gillen, I hope you read this because it involves Cyclops. One of the more surprising, novel, and somewhat disturbing changes in Age of X was how it fucked Cyclops up. In Age of X he was a loose canon in a ways that made Wolverine look like Mr. Rogers. Having your eye-lids removed and being used as an execution tool will do that to a man. But what really stood out (beyond the ridiculous mask he had to wear) was that he married Frenzy. She's not a telepath, she didn't look like Jean Grey, and he wasn't pushed to be with her by Jean Grey from an apocalyptic future. They just got together and made it work.

Now this is a big deal because whenever Cyclops gets involved with a woman, they're deeply affected. This guy banged Jean Grey and Emma Frost, two women with nasty dark sides and got them to love him. So yeah, he's THAT good. Needless to say, Frenzy didn't want to have those memories blocked. To her, their love was real. To Cyclops, it was an illusion. He's kind of a dick about it, but seeing as how he's with Emma Frost that's to be expected. Frenzy is a lot more vocal. She believes that it was real and he knows it. It would be great if she was right. If Matt Fraction was still writing Uncanny, something like this would definitely be swept under the rug. But the relationship her was pretty serious. It put Frenzy in a new light and it may do the same with Cyclops, if he can work around Emma Frost somehow. It would be so great if Marvel actually used this to develop a little tension between him and Emma Frost (which has been avoided like a Brett Ratner movie). But given Marvel's policy towards Cyclops and Emma Frost, I'll believe it when I see it. The sad part is I may see Bigfoot fucking the Loch Ness Monster before I see it.

Cyclops and Frenzy aren't the only relationship to enter the fucked up realm that only Whitney Huston could ever understand. Rogue and Gambit have always been on-again/off-again. Lately, they've been somewhere in between like that annoying switch in the basement that got jammed because someone thought it would be funny to stuff it with gum. Now Age of X has flipped one too many switches with Rogue. In Age of X she was known as Reaper and her job was to collect the life force of the dead. It fucked her up as death has a way of doing that to the living. So she's not sure of much anymore. She doesn't seem to confident in her love for Gambit anymore and surprisingly the man has a problem with it. He basically tells her that until she knows without a doubt that she loves him as much as he loves her, then she needs to go back to using toys with double-A batteries.

It's another bump in the all too rocky relationship between Rogue and Gambit. Their relationship is almost as iconic as the likes of Cyclops and Jean Grey. However, it's never been very serious. Even after Rogue got control of her powers, these two were barely in the same comic together. Either the relationships was being ignored or there was just nowhere to go with it. At least here we get some clarity. It took a while and it doesn't seem like a fitting time to put it together, but the status is clear for once and that can only help.

Once Cyclops is finished pissing off yet another woman he's slept with, he visits Dr. Rao. She gives him some reports on Chamber and Hellion, both of who have some souvenirs from their Age of X experience. Hellion now has telekientic/bionic arms that he can use to play ping-pong with while Chamber is left more fucked up than a prom dress at Charlie Sheen's house. But those are all just minor updates that assure that Age of X has left a lasting impact. The big update comes when they confront another relic left over from Age of X. She has red hair, green eyes, and radiates with something that looks like the Phoenix Force. However, it isn't so it's not necessarily Jean Grey or a Jean Grey ripoff. It's the next best thing. Revenant, aka Rachel Grey.

That's right! Rachel Grey, who has been marooned in space with Havok and Polaris since before Second Coming, has finally returned to the pages of the X-books! What happened is that she tried to make psychic contact with them from space. Then she hit a little static from Legion, who basically remade her into Revenant. Her mind is basically severed from her body. Again, it's a little too convenient that she sent this message just as Legion was fucking up reality. But at least she's finally come back into the fold after being swept under the rug for so long. Cyclops, showing that he actually does give a damn about his family, orders Rao in the science team to help get his daughter back. While his excuse to Frenzy was a bit of a dick move, his renewed dedication to his daughter helps balance it out. Although I suspect there will still be plenty out there who say he's a dick.

This would have been a nice place to end the book, but Mike Carey has to remind us that he's a big Rogue fan at heart. Who can blame him? X-men Legacy has always been a book where Rogue shines like Emma Frost's breast implants. In Age of X there was another relationship besides Frenzy/Cyclops that dominated the story. It was Magneto and Rogue. It's a relationship that will have some scratching their heads and others vomiting uncontrollably, but for some reason a guy old enough to be her great-grandfather gets her going. Just like Age of Apocalypse, somehow Rogue found a way to endear herself to Magneto's wrinkly balls. So eventually, Magneto confronts her. They lay out all the awkwardness surrounding their Age of X experience. Then they agree to talk seriously. For some reason, Rogue thinks he's asking her on a date. She's rightfully appalled, but she goes with him anyways.

It's a somewhat strange way to end the issue. So Rogue and Magneto share and awkward moment and then agree to talk? And then Magneto flies her away to some place private? It's confusing and a little fucked up. Having just walked away from Gambit, it seems...unsettling for lack of a better word. This is Magneto. He's tormented the X-men in ways that reduce the Geneva Convention to toilet paper at a clinic for those with irritable bowel syndrome. Yet somehow she listens to the man? It just stinks of several days worth of unflushed crap, but not entirely in a bad way. It would have been a major plot-hole had Mike Carey just ignored it. It just seems like a plot that was done before in Age of Apocalypse and didn't need to be recycled in Age of X.

Now even if you haven't read Age of X, this issue is a great jumping on point. It basically fills the reader in what happened and deals with the shit storm that follows in a fairly appropriate way. In addition, it sets the stage for a new series of stories. The story about Rogue and Magneto is one that can't be ignored, even if I'm not a fan of it. The promise of finally getting Rachel, Havok, and Polaris involved again offers so much potential. That and the personal struggles of these characters to make sense of these other lives they lived is a done in a deeply compelling way. Mike Carey's strength has always been in dealing with characters. Age of X gave him plenty to work with in that regard.

However, part of what made Age of X and X-men Legacy fall short of other X-books was the detached nature of the book. It really didn't relate to what was going on in 616 until this issue. Even then, some of what was offered was pretty contrived. The whole plot with Legion gaining control from Nemesis's device just seemed too convenient. Same with Rachel sending her message just as Legion was fucking everything up. While I'm glad she's back, it just seems like it was cut and paste into the story as a means of getting her back into the fold. Other plots like Frenzy and Cyclops seem like they're going to get swept under the rug. Given the breadth of the X-books at the moment, that's a shame because there is so much potential with these stories.

I'm happy to give a full review of an X-men Legacy book again. However, this series still has some catching up to do with the Uncanny books. If it can somehow start impacting other X-books with the stories it deals with, then I'll gladly add it to my review rotation once more. Until then, it's going to be the odd man out. This issue didn't catch up all the way, but it at least got a decent start. That's why I give X-men Legacy #248 a 3.5 out of 5. If you have room for another X-book, it's worth adding. However, it's a little behind. But when it comes to X-men comics, a lot can change in just a few issues. Nuff said!


  1. I loved the take from Age of X and the aftermath myself. Gambit's words to Rogue sum up my take on decades long "will-they-or-won't-they" relationships perfectly. Call me when the storyline actually advances, because as long as it is in a permanent holding pattern, I can't bring myself to care.

    Cyclops' response to Frenzy is perfectly in character for him, when something is difficult to deal with emotionally, he tends to shut his feelings down. I'd love to see the relationship followed up on, because they actually have enough of a contrast to how they approach things to make it work from a storytelling perspective. They both have trouble with their emotions, but where he subdues them, she goes all out with a desire to feel. The same problem, but approached from different sides.

    That and I absolutely hate the "substitute-Jean" bit no matter who is filling in. Maybe Marvel can actually try something original for once, although the last time they has that chance Lee Forrester (who I think is better than Madelyne Pryor in every way) vanished from the printed page.

    Exactly how crazy Legion remains will have to be seen, but it appeared that he made a huge step at the end of Age of X when he dealt with "Moira."


  2. It's true. The Age of X aftermath is actually somewhat better than the story itself. Seeing how it affects these characters makes for a compelling story. I'm glad it finally put some clarity into the Rogue/Remy relationship. For a while it seemed like the X-books was sweeping that under the cover. To me that's like ignoring the 800-pound-gorilla beating off in the middle of a room. But the Frenzy/Cyclops part was definitely my favorite.

    You're right that Cyclops tends to shut his emotions down. That's been his defining trait for many relationships, but what makes Frenzy more appealing is that she's NOT a Jean Grey replacement. She didn't have to dress up like Jean Grey and Jean Grey didn't have to push him to be with her. It's a much more organic relationship that has infinitely more substance than what Cyclops and Emma Frost have had. But knowing Marvel, they'll NEVER do anything to taint Cyclops/Emma. They're more than happy to destroy relationships like Peter/MJ, but Cyclops/Emma? Forget it. It's a case of ass-backwards standards if ever there was one. Thanks again for the comments!

  3. Good call on Emma Frost being totally OOC with the ethics hesitancy and the convenience of Legions power controller and Rachel and Legion's timing.

    But I think overall the quality of the arc completely outweighed the negatives. The alternate versions were interesting, particularly Dust, Wolverine and Hellion.

    The impact has shed light on so many storylines, Rogue/ Gambit, the Starjammers, Legion's powers, b characters like Cannonball, Chamber, Hellion. I hope the aftermath leads to Jubilee possibly getting her powers back like other characters getting a souvenir.

    Cyclops is a dick.

  4. Thank you for the comment. I think the problem with Emma is that the writers are glossing over the defining character traits that made her who she is. Those traits include being coarse, snide, and morally loose. For her to make a moral argument is like Ted Nugent arguing for PETA. It just doesn't work. I feel it's their way of making her more compatible with Cyclops. But if you have to ignore a character's defining traits for the relationship to work, then it's not a very good relationship to begin with.

    I also get the sense they were tired of ignoring Rachel, Polaris, and Havok. So they jumped the gun a bit in trying to bring her back. I'm all for bringing them back, but this was a just too much.

    As for Cyclops being a dick, I think that's a little simplistic. He's reserved and that does rub people the wrong way. It doesn't make him a total dick, but it definitely makes him at least three quarters of one.

    Thanks again!

  5. I felt bad for both Cyclops AND Frenzy myself.

    Frenzy was actually HAPPY in that messed up alternate universe, and had it ripped away from her. Not an easy thing to adjust too. It isn't a surprise that she isn't willing to let go.

    Cyclops had the unenviable task of breaking up with a woman who had done nothing wrong. He could have stayed with her, and ended up hurting a different woman who.....had done nothing wrong. He was stuck in the middle of a lose/lose situation, and was going to hurt someone who didn't really deserve it no matter what he did. He was probably thinking a clean break was best, which might have been the least bad decision out of a list of wrong ones.


  6. I agree. Frenzy actually seemed more at peace in Age of X, which is crazy given how utterly fucked that world was. That shows you the power Cyclops has on women. He can make even an apocalyptic AU seem like heaven. lol

    I've seen people bash Cyclops over this on message boards, but they guy did nothing wrong. He never asked for Age of X. Frenzy didn't do anything wrong either. He's always left to make the hard decisions. That doesn't make him a jerk. That just makes him the unlucky guy who has to do what no one else would do. I hope Frenzy comes back into the picture because his relationship with Emma Frost is just getting laughable.