Saturday, June 18, 2011
X-men Legacy #250 - Two Stories, Multiple Awesome
After you've been grossed out by some really fucked up shit, your tolerance for it changes. Whereas you used to have such a weak stomach that you couldn't go into Lady Gaga's closet without a barf bag, at some point you develop such a tolerance that you can casually surf imported animal porn from Pakistan as if you were shopping for a new vibrator. Sometimes it's good to have your tolerance tweaked. It puts things in perspective. In the future when you see something that makes you want to line your stomach with molten silver, you're better able to digest it.
Now I caught a little flack for my review of X-men Legacy #249. I know I made a big deal about how it ended with Magneto and Rogue sucking face in a way that made me crave that imported animal porn I mentioned earlier. Some did point out that Magneto and Rogue do have a history. It's canon in the comics. Yes, I'm aware of that. Thanks to this thing called the internet you can get detailed charts of pretty much everyone that every character in X-men has boned and who will likely be boning who in the coming months. That doesn't make it any less disturbing, especially given the circumstances. It wasn't that I was utterly repulsed by the idea of Magneto and Rogue kissing. I was repulsed with how it came together. They talk in a holocaust museum and suddenly Rogue wants to snorkel his 80-year-old chud? Sorry, but that's quite possibly the worst pick-up trick since this guy at my old high school pretended to be gay just so he could get close to this gay guy's hot sister. It was too fucked up to work.
Disgust aside, I'm not giving up on X-men Legacy. Mike Carey is still a quality X-men writer and X-men Legacy has been a great medium for certain characters. Whereas Uncanny has it's own cast, X-men Legacy focuses on a different portion of the team. Rogue is front and center, but so are other characters like Legion, Gambit, and most recently Frenzy. Their story gets overshadowed at times. It's like being Jenna Jameson's less attractive and non-surgically enhanced sister. The bonability is still there, but it just gets outshined. Age of X did a great job of making X-men Legacy important again on it's own terms. For the past few issues, the team has been reorganized while new plots involving Rachel and the Starjammers starts to unfold. There's a lot to get excited about here. It hasn't gotten to a point where you need to start shooting beta blockers into your ass, but the potential is there.
X-men Legacy #250 is billed as a plus-sized issue with double the awesome. After the last issue, I'm more skeptical than Richard Dawkins at a faith healing convention. Thankfully, the issue starts by completely ignoring the final panel of the previous issue. There's no awkward morning where the woman tries to sneak out in just her underwear while the man pretends he's sleeping and secretly activates a webcam. It just goes right into the next part of the story involving Legion and his many personalities. In the last issue, Doctor Nemesis added another notch to his list of fuck-ups by causing Legion's personalities to separate. Now the X-men have to go around and collect them before they fuck to much shit up. That's like trying to track down every woman who ever boned Tommy Lee. It's not an enviable task. Except this time, the X-men have an ace in the whole. They go after one of the personalities with Frenzy, who demonstrates her new status an X-man by chucking cars at the problem. I'm no tactician, but it beats the hell out of giving the guy the finger.
Now keep in mind, this is Frenzy's first taste of real X-men duties. She decided in the last issue that a romp with Cyclops in fantasy land was all the convincing she needed to join the team. Unfortunately, even the power of Cyclops's penis cannot prepare her for the logistical aspects of being an X-man. One of those aspects involve not killing the people you're trying to save. You would think that would be an easy lesson to learn, but for someone like Frenzy that's like making her learn Sanskirt blindfolded. This forces Magneto of all people to step in and prevent her from using methods only approved by the Hulk. Now you know you're really behind the curve when Magneto is ahead of you. But Frenzy's credibility isn't completely shot. This rogue personality of Legion, also known as Time Sink, bitch slaps Magneto like Kanye West on roid rage.
So the mission isn't going well. That much we can assume. Since it seems a little random, Mike Carey is generous enough to provide us with a flashback. It feeds back into the previous issue where Nemesis's tampering caused Legion's many personalities to escape. Seriously, if Nemesis was a financier he would be Bernie Madoff's prison bitch. So to get the personalities back, Professor Xavier actually plays a part (something he's been doing a lot more of lately) in finding a way to get them under control. To do that he asks Rogue to use her absorption powers to act as the Google of Legion's personalities, minus the $30 billion in annoying pop-up ads. It gives them a way to seek the personalities and confront them. But that's the easy part.
After getting the go-ahead from Cyclops to track down Legion's personalities, the team prepared to play Where's Waldo, the mutant schizophrenic version. For something like this, Gambit has to tag along with the full knowledge that Rogue probably sucked face with Magneto. It's not clear he knows this, but from the reader's perspective you can't help but feel for the guy. Xavier also gets word that Magneto and Frenzy will be going along as well. This would actually be her first real mission since she cut her hair and started fantasizing about Cyclops going down on her every night. She's not very polite about it either. Magneto also tags along against Xavier's wishes. Keep in mind, they're both under Cyclops's thumb at the moment. Even as old friends, they still are the same Xavier and Magneto that don't see eye-to-eye.
It's here where Mike Carey offers some interesting insight. It's been a while since Xavier and Magneto clashed in any real respect. They haven't so much as bickered in the pages of X-men. They've just listened to Cyclops. Now last I checked the disagreements between Xavier and Magneto were paramount to the X-men. I hear they even made a movie about it that grossed $55 in a week, although I'm writing this while drunk so check my facts for me. They aren't exactly buddies, but they don't see eye-to-eye. Magneto still labels Legion and enemy while Xavier is looking at him as a victim. That's a serious contrast and one that is definitely playing into their mindset.
Now before we get out of flashback mode, there's one other key scene that touches on the other major plot the last issue developed that didn't involve disturbing kisses between pretty girls and proven psychopaths. Rachel Grey is still in her Revanant state from Age of X. She's stuck in this state when she made a psychic call that just happened to arrive when Age of X unfolded, which is still pretty fucking convenient. It's like calling Warren Buffet just as he's promised to give away a billion dollars to the first guy who calls him. She's pretty messed up as anyone would be in an out-of-body experience that didn't involve excessive doses of nitrous oxide. She asks Rogue a favor, but unfortunately we don't hear what that favor is. Mike Carey decided that the past is too annoying to dwell on so in the spirit of Doc Brown we go back to the future!
It turns out the future/pleasant sucks ass too. Since Magneto and Frenzy couldn't stop Legions renegade personality, Gambit takes a shot. He ends up getting mind fucked by Time Sink, which come out of left field in a sense because with a name like Time Sink you wouldn't expect him to do the mind games. That's Emma Frost's deal when she's feeling cruel, horny, or both. It offers a nice flashback of the fucked up life of Remy Lebeau. It's a nice reminder, but one that is a little out of place to say the least.
It's not painfully clear that the X-men aren't going to solve Legion's problems for him. So in a subliminal ad for the Republican party, he exercises a little personal responsibility and attacks his renegade personality. He shows more balls here than he has since Age of X. He's actually somewhat heroic, which seems odd for a guy who has Bart Simpson style hair. But being heroic and being competent are two different things. It doesn't start off well because apparently Time Sink was one of those personalities that was actually competent.
So scratch the whole personal responsibility ploy. Now the Democrats are inserting subliminal messages along with some teachers unions because Rogue steps in and helps her unfortunate, mentally challenged comrade. She attacks Time Sink, giving Legion the assistance he needs to rise up and take his less-than-better half out. It's over a little quickly, but seeing as how Time Sink took on Magneto, Gambit, and Frenzy it's a fight that did a lot of damage. So it's still plenty satisfying.
Now that Time Sink is down, Legion successfully reabsorbs him. Rogue also reveals that when she soaked up a bit of his juicy memories, along with the fantasies of her in a thong she discovered that the other personalities were out lying low. They split up because the idea of being locked with Legion again is about as appealing as having root canal done with a jackhammer. So the team's battle isn't over. There's plenty of fight to go around and Frenzy makes a comment at how fucked up this is. By X-men standards it's still pretty tame, but I give her a break because she's knew. If she doesn't have fuck-up fatigue by the end of this arc, then she's not cut out for the X-men after all no matter how powerful Cyclops's penis influenced her.
Now normally this would be a good end to the issue. There's a brief page hinting at the other personalities that Legion absorbed, but it contains nothing that can't be seen in the first Ghostbusters movie. But that's not the end. There's more comic after this. It feels like a bonus. Keep in mind this is the #250th issue and it's plus sized. The other story to be told is Rachel, which Mike Carey has only started to develop. It's continues with the scene from earlier where Rachel asked Rogue for a favor. As bonuses come, this is like free lube with every Playboy.
But as nice as the bonus is, the story is poorly organized. It really doesn't flow well with the story surrounding Legion that just got done getting told. It's like someone at Marvel was high while arranging the pages, shuffling around the issue so that it feels like a printing error. It's a bit confusing, but it's still extra and like a banking error that gives you a few extra bucks why not enjoy it?
The story continues with Rogue trying to touch Rachel in her Revenant form in hopes of finding out where the hell she's phoning in her psychic distress call. She wouldn't have called if she wasn't neck-deep in cosmic shit. Rogue cops a feel, but nothing much is gained from it. What's compelling here is that Rachel isn't too concerned about not knowing what's happening to her. She's just desperately reaching for her friends. She sounds less like a girl with a history of cosmic ramblings and more like a girl who just misses her friends and family. It's that personal touch that makes it extra awesome.
The problem is she knows she's about to get dropped from this call like a bad plan by AT&T. The X-men's science team offers few suggestions. Both Charles Xavier and Emma Frost try to play psychic detective. The mystery still isn't clear as Rachel isn't even sure if her body is still intact. When the time finally comes, she disappears in a nice scene that shows her Revenant form shooting back out into space. It covers some of the events during Age of X and the long distance she traveled. It acts as a nice and appropriate recap of how Rachel finally ended her sabbatical from the X-books for over three years. In that time we've elected a black president and killed Osama Bin Ladin. That's how long it's been.
Once she's gone, Rogue reveals to Cyclops that she knows where Rachel is. She succeeded where Xavier and Emma failed. Rachel, Havok, and Polaris are on the Shi'ar home world of Chandilar. To make matters a bit more interesting, she reveals the whole system is about to fall into the sun. As if Cyclops didn't have enough on his plate, he now has to save his daughter from a Mayan 2012 doomsday prophecy for aliens. Given his stress, it's amazing he can still satisfy the likes of Emma Frost without his dick falling off.
There's just one other problem as if falling into the sun wasn't bad enough. When Rachel comes back from Revenant mode, she finds out that she's in the alien equivalent of Hannibal Lector's basement. She's trapped in some alien prison chamber and she's staring down the barrel of an alien gun. So whatever rescue the X-men try to mount, she's still utterly fucked in ways that defy description. If nothing else, it'll make for some kick ass space battles which makes X-men Legacy worth following even more. That and it helps you forget about the final page of the last issue. That's really the most we could have asked for with this issue.
Man, now I'm out of breath and I think my keyboard is smoking. This was a plus sized review for a plus sized book. It had a lot going on and I wanted to do it justice because Mike Carey has more than earned that honor in his tenure with the X-men. I don't want to keep bringing up the last issue, but I'll just say that some of the decisions he makes with the characters are questionable. More often than not, he does a damn good job. He's like that guy who used to do surgery on Michael Jackson's nose without puking. That takes talent. Mike Carey had a double-sized book to demonstrate this talent and he did a damn good job. He offered two comics worth of material in one. Both stories continued a plot that began in the previous issue and did it in a way that that glistens with awesome.
Some of the most compelling parts of the story involves Frenzy and Rachel. Mike Carey took someone who was really flat in Frenzy and made her a really intriguing character. She's still the same tough-nosed bitch who will jam a car up your ass and not have it be a porno tagline, but she now has a sense of inner conflict that she's trying to resolve. She wants to be who she was in Age of X and she's struggling to get it. Rachel's story is also quite compelling and not just because it took over three fucking years for Marvel to revisit it. They actually attempt to offer an explanation as to why Rachel, Havok, and Polaris have been gone. It isn't just because someone at Marvel got drunk and forgot. Something happened to them with the Shi'ar and they need help. Mike Carey set the stage for a cosmic level story that hasn't been seen in a while with the comics. Seeing as how Hope Summers has been a shitty excuse for a Summers, Rachel's presence has never been more needed.
Having both stories in the same comic made the awesome all the more valuable. However, the key issue remains organization. They way each plot was set up really was confusing. At first I thought the asshole who sells me his prescription meds diluted my latest stash. Then I realized they were sugar pills again. The lack of coherence is hard to ignore. Granted, both stories really don't affect one another. Even so, Mike Carey has the talent to make it flow and there's no excuse for at least not making an effort. There's still the issue of Rachel's projection being a bit too convenient in that it happened just as Age of X was unfolding. There's also a limited sense of development from other characters, but the progress is still there. Even a double-sized issue can't cover every base in a world as fucked up as the X-men.
I'll finally say it. This issue did really make up for the last one. X-men Legacy #250 is a great comic that offers bonus material in addition to Mike Carey's usual awesome. You get plenty of bang for your buck without having to go to Bangkok. The stories here are very compelling and offer plenty of reasons to keep up. The promise of the Starjammers returning and of Frenzy becoming the X-man she wants to be makes for great awesome. The final score for X-men Legacy #250 is a 4 out of 5. No need to have an iron stomach for this book. It'll give you the thrills you seek without making you bulimic. Nuff said!