Saturday, August 13, 2011

X-men Legacy #253 - From Awesome To Awesome

There was a time when X-men Legacy was the most consistently awesome X-book on the racks. I don't mean to sound nostalgic because I'm not. That was also a time where the other X-books were more underwhelming than a motivational speech by Ben Stein. Since then, the books have been more turnover than the Oakland Raiders's coaching staff, but the one consistent contributor has been Mike Carey. He's like the Al Davis of X-men comics, minus the senility.

Now for a while X-men Legacy was also overshadowed by books like Uncanny X-Force and Fear Itself. Well after the Age of X event, X-men Legacy is squeezing it's way back into my heart. It's needed a fuck-ton of anal lube, but it's getting there! I was somewhat reluctant after the issue where Magneto and Rogue swapped spit after visiting a holocaust museum. But the issues that followed relaxed my bowels and now I'm eagerly receiving X-men Legacy into my being like George Michaels in a cavity search.

This story has been a solid progression from the end of Age of X to another conflict involving Legion's many stray personalities. It started with another one of Dr. Nemesis's gizmos fucking up. It turned into a search-and-destroy mission to obtain and reabsorb Legion's personalities. It's led to regular people strapping bombs to their chest, souls being stolen, and Frenzy making a little girl cry. It's also the first major X-men mission that Frenzy has taken part in. After experiencing the power of being an X-man (that power also including Cyclops's penis), she's taken on a new look and she's making it work for her in as badass a way as Mike Carey can muster. She's brought some much needed grit to the team and it's made for some great moments. It led the team to take on one of Legion's most dangerous personalities, Styx. Aside from being a shitty rock band in the 70s, it's also a disembodied demonic personality intent on controlling the souls of the world. In other words, he's a slightly less insane Pat Robertson.

X-men Legacy #253 begins with Magneto, Frenzy, and Gambit facing another one of Legion's personalities that Styx threw at them like a pissed off Charlie Sheen at a crack den. This personality is part Juggernaut and part Terminator. He's all muscle, no brain, and a shit ton of firepower. Again, not unlike the Oakland Raiders. And Magneto, Frenzy, and Gambit are stuck fighting this thing because Legion had to go off and confront Styx himself. By confront I mean he was a total pussy and let Styx absorb him. So he's essentially fucked himself, the X-men, and the world. Way to go Legion! I think that sends a powerful message that schizophrenics should never go off their meds.

So Legion confronts Styx. At the end of the last issue, Styx revealed that he took control of Professor Xavier. It turns into a simple hostage situation. Either Legion becomes a psychic prison bitch or dear old daddy gets shanked in a way that no proctologist will ever be able to treat. Legion, being sane enough not to be a massive dick cheese, agrees and lets Styx take over. He doesn't offer much resistance either. Keep in mind, this is a guy who took over every soul in Paris. Granted, you could probably do that by spiking the wine supplies, but it still makes a valid point. He's powerful, he's greedy, and he wants to be the alpha dog in Legion's mind.

While Legion is getting accustomed to his new role as bitch, the rest of the X-men are stuck fighting Mr. Juggernaut rip-off. He actually proves to be more resourceful than Juggernaut. He first appeared as rejected Iron Man suit. Well when you've got a guy like Magneto trying to kill you, that's pretty fucking stupid. That's like putting a target on your ass and facing a militant homosexual with a dildo tipped rocket launcher. So Mr. Iron Man rip-off does a cheap shot and shifts his form to look more like a rock. He actually looks like a walking hunk of shit, but at least that means he can kick Magneto's ass and make quick work of Frenzy and Gambit.

Then something unexpected happens. It's a twist that Mike Carey never hinted at or built up to, but it's a twist so startling that if you've smoked too much weed before reading this comic then you'll start to think the CIA is tapping into your brain again. What happens is Legion shows up. No, he didn't escape from Styx. Styx is too busy enjoying himself as the new alpha male in Legion's schizophrenic personality. So what the fuck happened?

This is where it pays to follow Carey's books from start to finish because he does pay attention to the little details. Remember earlier in the arc when the X-men faced a personality that was basically a Multiple rip-off? Well keep in mind, Legion reabsorbed that personality. You know what that means? He has that power. So that guy Styx is about to make his personal blow-up doll doesn't deliver the impact he thought (not as big a prison rape joke as you think) he finds out that the Legion he thought he was draining is a dup. Okay, so being a fragment of a personality doesn't make you smart. But this shit is sneaky enough to catch the readers off guard so it's pretty damn brilliant.

Not only does Styx find out that now he's become the bitch, he's also not in a position to help Mr. Juggernaut ripoff. Now that Legion is in the battle, he can take advantage of the WTF effect and land a finishing blow. It's a nice moment because to this point, the rest of the X-men were getting their asses kicked in ways only the 2007 Detroit Lions could understand. Legion provides the extra firepower to take him down. Plus, he's still the dominant personality so he can absorb his ass as well (NOT a prison rape joke this time). It should come as a hell of a relief to the others, but they're just as surprised as the reader. How the fuck did he pull off a double take when his personalities are so unbalanced that every time he makes a phone call the caller ID explodes?

Well the answer to that is as simple as it is awesome. Rogue. That's right! The same Rogue that got caught in the blast of a suicide bomber in the previous issue. She doesn't just look pretty, act sassy, and occasionally swap spit with guys like Magneto and Gambit. She's actually pretty damn powerful because she can absorb powers. That includes Legion. So when Styx demanded that Legion confront him, he got what he asked for. But he never said he wanted the real Legion. Granted, that's like saying "I didn't say Simon Says!" but it works!

Now there is somewhat of a problem with this, albeit a minor one. We don't exactly know how the hell Rogue went from hospital bed to kicking Styx's ass. There is a slight attempt at an explanation, but it's not that clear. That or I'm just too drunk to make sense of it. There's no question that Rogue is tough, but she was in a fucking bomb blast. How the hell did she heal herself that fast and swap places with Legion so that nobody including the reader found out? It's a mystery that would take Sherlock Holmes on LSD to figure out, but given Legion's power and Rogue's flexibility in using them it's not completely impossible or utterly contrived. So I can't make too big a deal about it. Not when it works so damn well.

Whatever lingering scars she had from the blast, Rogue brushes off like dandruff on her shoulder. She proceeds to drain Styx and weaken his disembodied ass so that Legion can reabsorb him. In the process this releases Styx's hold on most of Paris and Professor Xavier. This could have been a clean way to end the arc, but Mike Carey doesn't like to do shit halfway it seems. While Legion is absorbing Styx, he ends up absorbing Rogue as well. That's a hell of a problem. Rogue of all people doesn't deserve to get locked away in the fucked up tapestry of Legion's psyche. She's better than that and she's too hot. So Professor Xavier does what he does and rushes to her aid.

Using that bald headed noggin of his, Professor Xavier enters Legion's mind and sifts through those fucked up personalities to find Rogue. Along the ways he passes some that the X-men have already faced. It's a nice refresher course over what they've gone up against in this arc. But when he finds Rogue, he finds that she's gotten somewhat comfortable in Legion's personality. Keep in mind, Legion packs a fuck ton of power and Rogue is like reservoir for power. So like Charlie Sheen in a Colombian crack house, she just can't help herself. She absorbs the kind of power that Vladimir Putin only pretends to have. Mike Carey has made no secret of his love for Rogue in the past so it's not too surprising that she powers her up a bit.

They leave Legion's mind and Rogue takes the power with her. When she's back in the non-schizophrenic world, everything seems back to normal. Legion is spent, looking like a guy who just went out partying with Keith Richards. Xavier tends to his son in a way that makes him somewhat less a douche-bag than he's been over the past half-decade or so. But Rogue isn't finished. She says that she has a nice dose of Legion's powers and she can use them to keep a certain promise she made earlier in the arc. What promise is it? Well it involves a woman with red hair, green eyes, and a fiery disposition. And no, it's not Jean Grey. It's NEVER fucking Jean Grey. That just wouldn't be Marvel.

Instead, it's Rachel. That's right, Rachel fucking Grey came back in the form of Revenant during Age of X. She reached out to the X-men and let them know she was kind of in a shitty predicament with Havok and Polaris. And not shitty as in stuck in traffic on the 405 during rush-hour. It's shitty in the sense that they're being held prisoner by a bunch of pissed of Shi'ar. Rogue promised to find her and now she has Legion's power so she can do that. So she says goodbye to the Professor and without even giving Gambit, Frenzy, and Magneto a chance to rest she teleports them across the cosmos. When she arrives, she discovers an unconscious Rachel and a bunch of pissed off and heavily armed Shi'ar. Thus ends the single greatest transition Marvel has written since Reagan was president.

Mike Carey must be an impatient man because he pretty much skipped the whole resolution where the X-men sat around, caught their breath, and got drunk as is every superheroes right after a victory. Instead, he took the end of Legion's battle and took it right to the next story, which brings Rachel, Havok, and Polaris out of their three-year exile. It's abrupt, but I won't call it random because it just fucking works. Rogue gets a taste of Legion's vast array of powers and one just happens to be useful in finding their lost friends. It would have been a dick move if she didn't use it to their advantage. And what happens as soon as she arrives? The Shi'ar pull a gun on her and prepare to go Ted Nugant on her ass. You couldn't ask for a better transition if Mike Carey punched the reader out so they woke up on the exact day the next issue came out.

The end was very sweet and it complimented a solid end to the arc. One of Mike Carey's greatest strengths is his ability to characterize the X-men and make coherent stories with them. This arc flowed so perfectly from beginning to end. It was like poetry with explosions, twists, and boobs. The twist with Legion pulling a double take with Styx was very satisfying. The only issue I could really take with this book is how Rogue was able to go from hospital bed to the front lines without anybody noticing. Mike Carey wasn't too clear on those details, but given all the power Rogue packs it's not so outlandish that it feels too contrived. Still, some added details would have been nice.

Overall, this arc made me care more about Legion and Frenzy than I ever gave half a bag of shit about before. Mike Carey is one of those rare writers who can take a character that very few people who don't brows wikipedia during their down time at work and make them awesome. It has made for a very satisfying ending to a story that flowed perfectly from Age of X. For this, I am willing to put X-men Legacy right up there with Uncanny X-Force, Uncanny X-men, and X-23 as the SEAL Team 6 of X-men comics. As such, I give X-men Legacy #253 a 5 out of 5. This comic couldn't have been more complete without it being wrapped in bacon and dipped in chocolate. Nuff said!

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