Saturday, June 4, 2011
X-men Legacy #249 - WTF vs Awesome (Guess Which Wins?)
I'm not the nostalgia type. Like the NFL (which also means not for long), I have a somewhat short memory when it comes to certain series. If they've been good for ten straight issues and the eleventh sucks, I won't try to make shit shine and prop up the score so it matches with the others. I'm OCD in only a few things and they all involve booze. So when it comes to comics, I try to make the score reflect the true awesome of that book and not let hit piggy-back on the awesome of previous books.
Now there was a time when X-men Legacy was one of the most consistent X-books on the racks. It has the rare distinction of having the same writer in Mike Carey for a good chunk of the past decade. You don't get a distinction like that if you half-ass it or jump at the chance to write something else as soon as Marvel so much as whispers about a new project. Mike Carey seems to have a genuine passion about X-men Legacy. He's like a fanfiction writer who gets paid for his work. If I had that job I would celebrate like I just banged the Maxim cover girl every three hours. His style has fit X-men Legacy so perfectly that it's hard to imagine anyone matching his style. The problem is that now X-men Legacy has competition in the consistency department.
Uncanny X-Force has hit the scene like Bill Murray at a college party. Uncanny X-men has improved a great deal under Kieron Gillen. X-men Legacy actually fell a bit to the wayside after Second Coming. Age of X was great, but at times it's awesome was just too easy to overlook because so much more was unfolding in the other books. Age of X ended and X-men Legacy #248 seemed to get the series back on track, albeit with a few stumbles. X-men Legacy #249 promises to continue that trend and has a lot to work with in terms of doing so.
X-men Legacy #249 starts off where the last issue ended. Unfortunately, that ending wasn't a very solid ending unless you watch imported Japanese porn where old men fuck cute Asian girls a quarter of their age. This is how I often view the Rogue/Magneto dynamic in X-men Legacy. For the most part, Mike Carey has danced around it by showing Magneto leering at Rogue the same way a 13-year-old leers at the sight of his hot 19-year-old neighbor when she's sunbathing in a bikini. Then in the last issue they had to have a talk that you can only get out of a Hugh Grant movie in that in Age of X Magneto wasn't quite as big an asshole and Rogue had a soft spot for him (and rightfully so given her shitty role as a mutant undertaker). But this isn't Age of X. In this world, Magneto is a total douche-bag and anyone who has sympathy for him might as well have sympathy for Donald Trump. Yet Rogue goes along with it, allowing Magneto to take her some place private so they can talk. Normally that's how bad pornos start, but he takes her to the Holocaust Museum. You can't shoot a porno in a place like that. I'm sure some have tried and gotten their asses kicked by Israeli special forces as a result.
Rather than actually talk about the shit they went through in Age of X, he decides to earn some sympathy points. He does this with the most powerful tool in every comic character's arsenal, the flashback. In real life it's just some asshole talking. In comics it carries the weight of a real story. In it Magneto talks about a man he killed name Dr. August Hirt. He looked like Hitler, so much so that they might have been separated at birth. He was your typical Nazi asshole, doing medical experiments on concentration camp victims that wouldn't pass a medical board in the 16th century let alone the 20th century. By the times the Nazis got their asses served to him, he did the douche-bag thing and tried to escape. He almost succeeded as well as this was an era before Israeli military commandos that eat the flesh of dead Nazis for sustenance.
This is where Magneto enters the story. He was in the concentration camp where Hirt picked out his victims the same way Charlie Sheen picks out hookers at a brothel. So when the war ended and a strapping young Magneto escaped, his first task was to hunt the bastard down. He found him in a jail cell in France waiting to be released. Now he could have killed him by using a rusty nail to cut out his entrails and hang him with it. But this is still a young Magneto. He hasn't become old and bitter enough to be that cruel. So instead, he gives Hirt a rope to hang himself with. Magneto gives him two choices. Either hang himself or Magneto goes after his family. Being a Nazi, he probably had to think about it more than a few hours. But eventually, he does go through with it. He hangs himself before the next morning.
It's an intriguing story, but there's one problem with it. There was already a flashback with Magneto in a recent issue of X-men Prelude. So this story, while powerful in it's own right, sort of loses the impact. It shows Magneto developing into the monster he would become, but it's too predictable. Keep in mind, he's telling this story to Rogue. What does he have to prove? What does it even mean? It feels like it could have been told in another comic in a more appropriate context. It just doesn't work as well here.
When they get back to the present, Magneto says the story is a parable. It supposed to have a moral. I read it four times stoned and I couldn't get it. But somehow he relates it to Rogue feeling fond of him and wanting to jump his bone in Age of X. He even goes so far as to tell him that she's right for not acting on her fondness and that Gambit loves him more. And if he makes her unhappy, to tell him the story he just told her. I can't imagine Gambit understanding. He'll probably call that the biggest non-sequiter in the history of relationships, not counting half of every Simpsons episode.
You could probably skip over the flashback and not miss anything. The other plot that carried over from the last issue involves Frenzy. Now she's probably the one character more than any other that benefited from Age of X. She was about as well known as the president of Uzbekistan before that story and it affected her in a profound way. She actually found peace in Age of X and is royally pissed off in the real world. So she does what most X-men do. She takes it out on Toad. Now it's not clear what he did to piss her off, but she threw him through a brick wall so assume he compared her face to something Lindsey Lohan threw up on.
Gambit is able to keep her from using Toad as a wishbone. Then in her frustration, she goes off and reflects on who she is and what she was in Age of X. If you don't know anything about this character, you can get the gist of it in just one page. It's a great moment, not just because there's some insight into this character that's never been really developed. But also, she does something that no one else did with Age of X. She changed her appearance and adopted a new look. It's different, but it's so badass that it'll make your balls shrivel if you stare at it too long. For the record, my balls weren't that big before I picked up this issue. Just a fair warning for the ladies out there. Beyond the new look, she makes a big decision. After being on the wrong side of the fight for most of her life, she confronts Gambit and decides to be an X-man. Excuse me while I wipe the tears form my eye. Another badass chick had joined the X-men.
Another character that was deeply affected by Age of X was Legion. And why shouldn't it? He's the one that started the damn reality warping BS that was the entire basis of that story. In the last issue Dr. Nemesis and Dr. Rao seemed to finally fix that twisted mind of his with a little gizmo. This way he won't keep fucking reality the same way the IRS keeps fucking every citizen that ever made an honest buck. Now I complained about this being too much of a quick fix. Here their testing it and for the most part it seems to be working. Legion almost doesn't look like some schizophrenic asshole who will warp reality for no other reason than because his ass itches.
Well that convenient fix I complained about may not be as convenient as I thought. As they're testing the device, there are some abnormalities. In a comic that could mean any amount of techno-babble that only a seasoned Star Trek fan could make sense of. In this instance, it involves Legions many schizophrenic personalities getting a little pissed at not being able to strut their stuff. It's like trying to keep a crowd of raging Twilight fans from a safe containing naked pictures of Robert Pattinson. It's a losing battle that ends up having all of Legions personalities show up and in a very colorful, rainbow like display. It looks a little gay, but not quite as gay as Twilight.
Legion's story continues to become more fucked up with each passing issue. But instead of exploring those other personalities, we return to Magneto and Rogue. It's not clear if they're still in the holocaust museum. If they are it's even more inappropriate because in this scene Rogue restates that she has a long list of reasons to hate him. Yet she's not afraid of the man and says she's not going to promise him anything beyond that night. Now I honestly don't know what the fuck she means by this. I had to get stoned again to see if drugs would find any deeper meaning. All it did was make me want to eat twinkies. So she hates the guy and knows he's bad news, but still approaches him the same way Japanese anime fans approach the panties department at a Victoria's secret. It's pretty disturbing and confusing.
Then what she does next is more fucked up than anything Legion ever did. She fucking kisses Magneto, in a fucking holocaust museum (presumably). This is the last page of the issue, but seeing as how she said it wouldn't go beyond the night it's easy to assume she did more than kiss him. Just the thought of someone as attractive and tough as Rogue getting ravaged by the wrinkly old body of a guy like Magneto should be enough to kill every boner in every comic fan for the next three years. It makes no sense as to why she's doing this when she says she's not afraid. Not being afraid isn't the same as not being stupid. It's more than just confusing. It's pants shittingly nauseating and ends the book in a way that will make some readers bulimic.
Before I make my closing remarks, I need to wash my eyes in sulfuric acid and dip my brain in boiling water laced with plutonium. In this era of comics, there aren't too many other ways to interpret that final scene. Nobody wants to see Magneto's naked ass so they have to simply implied that he boned Rogue in a fucking holocaust museum. Even if they didn't, the mere possibility is so sickening that even the History Channel wouldn't make a documentary about that shit. This may not be the most fucked up pairing Marvel has ever done (Wolverine and Squirrel Girl still stands out in that department), but the way Mike Carey tries to frame it as something viable and honest just doesn't work. This really hurts the issue because most of it centered around Magneto and Rogue. The whole retelling of Magneto's seems like just a cover to make that final scene less nauseating. Seeing as how it's impossible to white wash a characters past bullshit in just one issue, it's safe to say that this attempt was a failure. It's like that kid who thinks he's Superman and tries to jump across the Grand Canyon. No amount of determination or grit is going to change the laws of physics. The only result is a bloody puddle of bone, blood, and other various fluids that dare not be mentioned.
The Rogue/Magneto story really did bring down this issue. Even if it's completely forgotten about as Rogue implied by the next issue, it doesn't change that it happened. Thankfully, the whole book wasn't completely focused on them. The stories with Frenzy and Legion did continue with the same intrigue as the last issue. Frenzy made a major change that sets her up for a new kind of story that she's never been part of before. Legion's powers seemed fixed in the last issue, but already there are problems with that fix. It's no longer as convenient as I mentioned in the previous review so I credit Mike Carey for not glossing over that.
Yet these elements do not completely do a way with the bulk of the book, which was focused on Rogue and Magneto. Even if you hated her relationship with Gambit, you can't be too excited about this latest decision in her personal life. It really doesn't seem to fit her personality in the context of X-men Legacy or in the X-books as a whole. Mike Carey has stated openly that he's the biggest Rogue fan and would probably dye a white streak in his hair if his wife let him. So for him to tell a story like this, it's disappointing on many levels. I understand what he was trying to do here in adding depth to Magneto, but he took it too far. Even greater writers can't pretend their genies with magical powers. Some plots just don't work. That's why I give X-men Legacy #249 a 2 out of 5. There's still some value here in that it continues the story set in the previous issue, but even if you're excited about X-men Legacy this is an issue worth skipping. Your stomach will thank you later. Nuff said!