Saturday, June 25, 2011
X-men Legacy #251 - Multiple Awesome Syndrome
When the Marvel marketing machine is in full gear, it's hard to so much as think straight let alone enjoy the little things in life. With events like Fear Itself, Schism, and Death of Spider-Man it's like a Mardi Gras float parading around through your head minus the topless women and free booze. It can be annoying as hell. Sometimes you gotta make the effort to enjoy the Marvel books that get overlooked, not for a lack of quality but more for a lack of Marvel trying to etch it's awesome on the face of the fucking moon. Sometimes those books are hard to find, but they're worth it. That's how I view X-men Legacy.
Now I know I've had my share of criticisms mixed with dick jokes. I still stand by them, but that doesn't mean I've lost faith in X-men Legacy or Mike Carey. A lot of it has had to do with the Magneto/Rogue pukefest. It's been pointed out to me by a number of commenters that these characters do have a history. I'm aware of that history and I'm also aware that it doesn't get touched on for a reason. This is Magneto we're talking about here. The whole concept of him being a loyal soldier to Cyclops is completely new. It's not even three years old. Magneto's history is much longer and full of some pretty fucked up shenanigans. My position is that Rogue being able to overlook that is just fucked up and completely out of character.
But I don't want to keep ranting about Rogue and Magneto when I talk about X-men Legacy. There's a lot more going on than an old guy trying to stick his penis into something one forth his age. That shit is best reserved for GILF message boards. In recent issues of X-men Legacy, Mike Carey has been assembling a new team from the ashes of Age of X. Before much of the story was centered around Rogue and a fairly random cast of characters. Since the end of Age of X, Cyclops and Charles Xavier have been putting together a team to help clean up the mess left by that reality warping clusterfuck. This involves helping Legion get his schizophrenic mind back in one skull. In the last issue, they began that mission by hunting down one of Legion's rogue personalities named Time Sink. They ended up succeeding only after he fucked the team around a bit. In X-men Legacy #251 they have to hunt down another personality. This one isn't so unique. He's actually a knock-off of Jamie Madrox, but it's Legion. Being schizophrenic doesn't mean being original.
It starts with Rogue and Magneto. I know, I'm legally obligated to make a old dick joke here. There's nothing too nauseating here. Magneto does find a way to make a pass at her when they show up in London to a deserted street. He seems inclined to make out with her, but Rogue doesn't fall for it this time. So he can put the bottle of extra strength viagra away (see, there's your dick joke). But he doesn't get a chance to make another attempt. They're both quickly ambushed by Legion's next personality, Chain. And it turns out he's not a total knock-off of Multiple Man. He doesn't just snap his fingers and make clones of himself in a way that would make the pro-life crowd shit themselves. He touches random people and basically hijacks them into being the template for his duplicates. It's like hijacking a car and throwing the driver in the trunk. Only this time it's not a mob hit or a practical joke gone horribly wrong. It's just the random manifestation of a schizophrenic mutant.
So Magneto won't get his chance to trick Rogue into another pity fuck. Legion's fucked up and fragmented mind is sure to keep them busy. The rest of the team is just starting to see how fucked up this new Chain personality is. Legion explains it to Frenzy, Gambit, and Xavier as they prepare to enter the shit storm. He also reveals that they have another personality that's nearby. Keep in mind Time Sink really worked them over in the last issue and he was just one personality. So they have reason to keep their bowels tightened for a battle like this just as Jamie Madrox has reason to sue Legion for copyright infringement.
The battle on the ground with Rogue and Magneto escalates quickly. The art here really shines as it depicts an epic, 300 style onslaught. But unlike 300 there's no historic stand or homoerotic innuendo. Chain proves that he's not a mindless army of dupes. He adapts himself to the battle and for some reason using bows and arrows is pretty effective against Magneto because it ends up wounding him. Seriously, how can the guy call himself a superior being when he can still be wounded with technology from the fucking Bronze Age?
Legion and the rest of the X-men show up. They quickly decide that being this outnumbered with a wounded old man who still wants to bone girls who could still star in co-ed pornos isn't a good position to be in. So Legion teleports them away from the attack. He also revealed that to stop Chain and save all the people he's hijacked, they have to find the original Chain who is labeled 1A. So it's like fighting a psychopath and trying to find a book in the library. It sounds like the most inefficient case of multi-tasking in the history of the world.
The team ends up in a parking garage of all places. Rather than throw themselves at an army of pissed off dupes, they decide to wait for Professor Xavier to locate 1A. Since Magneto is wounded, nobody has too big a problem with that. Well except for one. Frenzy is still the new girl and she hasn't quite adapted to the X-men's policy of patience and strategy. She's like Wolverine except with boobs and she keeps the NAACP off Marvel's ass. She's like Janet Jackson with superpowers and as I've stated in previous reviews, she's been one of the best additions to X-men Legacy since someone decided to make Rogue's cleavage more visible.
Helping her cope with these strange new rules that don't involve randomly destroying shit, Gambit confronts her. They take a moment to talk about some of the drama that's been unfolding along with Legion's schizophrenic mind. Gambit says he wanted Rogue to fight by Magneto's side because that would help her see that he hasn't changed. He's still the same fucked up tyrant who used to look at humanity the same way Ted Nugant looks at a wounded deer. It sounds reasonable, but letting the girl he has the hots for hang out with Magneto? That's like setting her up on a blind date with Ted Bundy. He suggests that Frenzy do the same with Cyclops, hang around him and find out that he doesn't make her panties as wet as she thought. Then again that means dealing with Emma fucking Frost so I think Gambit's career as a counselor is fucked.
This moment takes a turn for the random when in the midst of this argument, Frenzy and Gambit just up and kiss. No, there weren't sharing a moment. In fact, the way Frenzy was talking she seemed to want to circumcise him with a butter-knife. It looks like some sort of crazy counter to the Rogue/Magneto kiss that I droned on about in previous reviews. However, this one isn't quite as fucked up. Remember that other personality that Legion mentioned? Susan? Well she has this crazy ability to take emotions and turn it into the equivalent of a bazooka. Since Frenzy is about as emotionally stable as Joe Pecci in Goodfellas, this gives her plenty to work with. Also, she looks like a five-year-old girl. And she was in Legion's mind. If you doubted how crazy he was before, this should lay any lingering concerns to rest. If not, then you're just being difficult.
As for Legion himself, the battle against his personalities takes an unexpected twist. Once Gambit and Frenzy are out of the picture, Magneto reveals that he's under special order to take Legion out if his personalities become too much of a threat. It's not clear if it's an order. He was just told that if the decision was between the world and a schizophrenic reality warping mutant with daddy issues, use common sense. Legion doesn't take kindly to this. Neither does Magneto. They end up fighting, keeping in mind that Magneto is wounded. Then Rogue steps in and puts a stop to it by absorbing them. She has this strange pet peeve about turning on one another before the fight is over. She's weird like that. It also shows that this team aren't the Superfriends. Occassionatly, they do want to kill each other.
So thanks to Rogue, they still have a moderate chance to hog tie the rest of Legion's personalities. This gives Frenzy yet another chance to shine, as if she hasn't already blinded readers with her awesome in X-men Legacy. This time she does it in a way that's as cruel as it sounds. She walks up to Little Susan, grabs her stuffed doll, and rips it's head off. She might as well have snatched a lollypop from a toddler, but there was a reason behind this. To stop Little Susan's rampage, they had to make her cry. It's cruel, but it work and Legion is able to re-absorb her.
Again, I'm compelled to point out how big Frenzy's impact has been on this title. She's not like any of the other character's featured. She's mean, she's tough, she's impatient, and she does it with an attitude that even Wolverine could respect. Mike Carey has really given her a voice and a personality. Her attitude alone makes X-men Legacy worth getting. Without her, this is just another typical fight between the X-men and some psychotic out-of-control mutant. They do that sort of shit every other Thursday.
With one personality down, the team gets their swagger back. Legion brushes off Magneto's earlier attempt to kill him and proves himself by hunting down 1A, which Charles Xavier was able to track. Now this convenient revelation comes at kind of an awkward moment. When Magneto tried to attack Legion, that implied it was too late. It had gotten to a point where Legion's personalities were too much to handle. Yet Xavier is able to find Chain and Legion is able to take him out with minimal effort. It could have been a much more epic struggle. They seemed to overlook Magneto jumping the gun on plan B. It doesn't make the comic incoherent, but it does hurt the flow. It's just one of those little things that hurts a comics ability to be top-tier in terms of awesome.
So they've taken down a Multiple Man ripoff and a psychic little girl. Well I guess when you put it like that, it doesn't sound like much. But the team followed up what they did in the previous issue. Whereas in X-men Legacy #250 they took down one stray personality, here they took down two. Not bad, but before they can get too confident they find out they may have fucked up. When they get back to the X-jet, they find out that Professor Xavier has been abducted. It wasn't mysterious either. Legion says outright that it was one of his personalities, namely Styx. Now it may be hard for some to feel too threatened by a villain with the name of some classic rock band from the 70s, but it definitely changes the shape of the arc. It was just starting to get bland with the whole hunting down personalities and absorbing them into Legion. Now the next issue promises to do something different. It's a great way to mix it up and adds a new marketing ploy for Marvel to exploit. Whether it can pierce the glow set by Fear Itself and Schism remains to be seen.
So that's two more personalities down in this issue. The next one looks like a reject from the last Mummy movie. The stage is set for the next mission and this time it's turned into an abduction. So instead of carjacking jokes, I'll have to start making jokes about kidnapping. I may need some time with that one if I'm not going to draw the wrath of Bill O'Reily. It promises to be different than the way this issue is constructed. If there's a weakness in this issue, it's that the core of the plot isn't much different from the previous issue. The X-men go after a personality by Legion, they get roughed up a bit, and then they beat it. This time they just beat two instead of one. Mike Carey did mix it up a bit, but for the most part the premise wasn't too different. So the end helped change it up by putting Charles Xavier back into mix. Let's face it, the man's not a fighter. He's a visionary who in recent years has become more manipulative than New Jersey loan shark. It promises to make for a different battle in the next issue.
Aside from limited variation, the issue was solid on every other level. There were some twists and teases. Magneto's flirting wasn't overdone in a way that made you want to puke. The kiss with Gambit and Frenzy seemed random until a twisted explanation from Little Susan was given. It wasn't a complete free-for-all over-the-top battle against a couple of crazy mental fragments. There was some strategy and tact, which Mike Carey has historically done very well. He also did a great job of giving Frenzy more face time. She's becoming a bonified star in the X-books when less than a year ago if you quizzed the average X-men fan they couldn't even point her out in a line-up let alone imagine her kicking this level of ass. It's a beautiful thing when a character comes out of nowhere and injects a fresh dose of awesome into a book. For this, Frenzy has earned her spot amongst the X-men and does it with the kind of grit that Wolverine probably jerks off to.
X-men Legacy #251 is a great book that's been on the upswing since the end of Age of X. It started off shakey, but it's quickly returning to the kind of consistency that once made Legacy one of the best X-books on the racks. Granted, it's been getting overshadowed by developments in Uncanny, X-Force, and Fear Itself. But with an issue like this, it shows that there are just some forms of awesome you can't get with overhyped events. That's why I give X-men Legacy #251 a 4.5 out of 5. It has everything you want in an X-men story without Marvel trying to force feed it with a shovel. It's awesome on it's own accord and that I think it something special. Nuff said!