Sunday, August 28, 2011

X-men Legacy #254 - Overdue Awesome

Certain things in life are worth waiting for. Things like a finely aged bottle of wine that will get you drunk and make you feel like a rich asshole come to mind. Lingering around in the bushes across from your neighbor's house while their smoking hot daughter strips down after a hard day at school and breaks out her favorite vibrator also hold true. In comics, it's somewhat different. The patience of fanboys is a fickle thing. If we're made to wait too long, then we lose interest because there's lots of other shit going on in other comics to get our rocks off. But when writers finally get around to something they've left hanging for years, our memories jog like a revelation from Odin himself. We remember and we're quick to forgive.

That's the relief/frustration that has come with the issue surrounding Havok, Rachel, and Polaris in the X-books. For over two years, these characters have been MIA. Hell, they might as well have been killed off because Captain America was dead for a shorter time than these two were missing. After the whole Kingbreaker arc where the Shi'ar underwent an ass-kicking enema, these three characters were essentially thrown into space and forgotten about like Sarah Palin's qualifications. Now after all this time, Mike Carey is finally revisiting these three forgotten characters. I'm sure that when they find out that the Xavier Institute is gone, everyone is living on an island in San Francisco, and Magneto has joined the team they'll shit enough bricks to fill the galaxy. That makes it all the more worth reading!

It began at the very end of the previous issue. Rogue, Magneto, Gambit, Frenzy, and Professor Xavier had just finished saving Legion from his renegade personalities. It required a little trickery and pwnage, but it was an immensely satisfying knock-out to the lingering mess left by Age of X. Now armed with some of Legion's powers, Rogue went to work fulfilling her promise to Rachel Grey. She teleported herself, Magneto, Gambit, and Frenzy into space, deep into the Carl Sagan inspired depths and into the heart of the Shi'ar's domain. It's taken a long ass time and a shit ton of teasing, but it's finally happening! Havok, Rachel, and Polaris are coming back to the X-books and hopefully Marvel won't kill them off too soon.

The issue begins with a less than pleasant arrival, but only slightly more pleasant than flying coach on a non-stop flight from Baltimore to San Diego. Frenzy, Magneto, and Gambit arrive on what looks like the set of Bambi minus the talking animals. It seems like an odd setting because didn't the last issue imply that they were heading off into deep space? Did Disney somehow force Marvel to do a shitty crossover along the way? Well those fears are quickly laid to rest when a giant robot attacks them. That should comfort readers that this is still an X-men comic and killer robots are as normal a sight as Charlie Sheen at a whore house.

So Magneto, Frenzy, and Gambit wind up fighting a giant robot. Where does Rogue end up? In a hostile space station with an alien pointing a gun at her head. All in all, it's as fair a trade as you'll get in the Marvel universe. They don't know why the hell she's there, but that's all the reason they need to point a gun at her. Rogue is only there because these same aliens happen to have an unconscious Rachel Grey nearby and if you're recall, that was the signal she zeroed in on. But here's the thing. The Shi'ar that are threatening her aren't there to take her prisoner or probe her (although that's something plenty of other guys wouldn't mind doing). They're there to use her as an escape decoy. For some reasons, these guys want off this space station. I suppose the food in Shi'ar space stations sucks that much.

Meanwhile the giant robot with Gambit, Frenzy, and Magneto follows the same sad path that all robots follow when they face the X-men. I'm pretty sure if robots had their own political action committee, they would label Marvel as a hate group. Gambit and Frenzy take care of the killer robot in typical flashy fashion. However, its' not all flare. Magneto reveals that there was no metal he could manipulate in the robot or the pilot. It leads him to point out that they're not in the woods and they shouldn't expect to find Ted Nugant shooting Bambi. They're in a Danger Room like simulation aboard a space ship. It should be pretty creepy, but given the X-men's experience it's like finding out Courtney Love has herpes. It's not too surprising, but it does add a little intrigue.

Back with Rogue, we find out that this space station is known as the Gul Damar. Ignoring that it sounds like some eccentric Middle Eastern oil Shiek, it also reveals that the Shi'ar have been a bit down on their luck. They had a war with the Kree and it didn't turn out so well. By that I mean they abducted George W. Bush, probed him, and allowed him to organize their campaign. So you can probably guess how that turned out. They got their asses handed to them and seeing as how the Shi'ar were kind of dicks to the other races they conquered, it's basically open season on Shi'ar and Elmer Fudd is armed with alien weapons.

Now this doesn't just provide a believable backdrop for these Shi'ar and why they're doing what they're doing. It also helps explain why Rachel, Polaris, and Havok couldn't get back to Earth. It's kind of hard to get a ride when there's a fucking war going on. And it's even harder to send out a distress signal when the side that brought them into this cosmic mess is getting their ass kicked. So again, it explains why they've been MIA, but waiting this long for the explanation still sucks.

But don't start feeling sympathy for these assholes. They still treat Rogue like shit, pistol whipping her when she tries to ask for more information on why they're running away like a bunch of pussies. They also add a sense of urgency to their little escape because they soon find out that the station they're on is kind of falling into a star. By kind of I mean they're going to be burnt to a crisp fairly soon. They're only hope is to find a ship and get the fuck off and not in the way you would get by paying a hooker five hundred bucks to act out a Star Trek fetish.

So Rogue now knows they're on a crash course with a cosmic barbeque. Yet Frenzy, Magneto, and Gambit don't know. They're still adjusting to the knowledge that they're on an alien space station. So yeah, they have some catching up to do. As soon as they find their way out of their woodland Bambi simulation, they start exploring. As it just so happens, the station is attacked by a series of bug-like marines that set their sights on what few Shi'ar are unlucky enough to still be alive. They don't speak English so they might as well be extras in an Independence Day sequel. This time Magneto, Frenzy, and Gambit don't get involved in alien politics. They just sit back, open up a bowl of popcorn, smoke a joint, and watch the show. It's quite a spectacle and the Shi'ar once again get their asses handed to them. At this point they're starting to look like the alien equivalent of Jews.

Since Magneto is one to sympathize with people like this, he eventually puts down the joint and decides to help out the Shi'ar. He does to those space bug marines what the Kardashians did to reality TV. He fucks them up just a enough to turn them away. This is Magneto at his best, showing off enough force to make even a raging hoard of alien marines run away like a bunch of pussies. The Shi'ar he saves are understandably grateful, but he has questions and they have answers. So like Radioshack, they get to the Q&A and unlike Radioshack they don't have to deal with some dimwitted sales guy that tries to sell you an overpriced stereo that Best Buy sells at half the price.

While Magneto is getting answers, Rogue is getting pissed about the whole hostage arrangement. They lead her into a ship that they hope to hot wire, fly off, and presumably pick up some alien hookers along the way. While they're busy, she asks a bit about Rachel. These guys don't seem to know much about what happened to her and the Starjammers. They just happened to pick her up. That immediately prompts me to use the c-word, contrived. So please, if you're a card-carrying member of a woman's rights group, don't hate me for pretending to use the word cunt. Well you feminists should love what happens next because once Rogue realizes that being a hostage sucks, she punches out one of the Shi'ar captors and challenges her to a death match for possession of Rachel. It sounds a lot like the plot of a prison lesbian porno, but that only adds to the potential awesome!

This scene adds to the mystery as to what the hell happened with Rachel that separated her from Havok and Polaris. But again, it comes off as a bit too convenient. These bumbling aliens just happened to find her? Seriously, how the fuck did that happen? There isn't much of an explanation. It may be explained in the next issue, but seriously a fucking hint would go a long ways. At least we have Rogue beating the shit out of an alien to look forward to. So I guess that softens the blow.

Back with Magneto, the Shi'ar explain to him why they're still shitting their pants over this latest attack. Apparently, someone has it out for the Shi'ar. So much so that they're sending alien marines to fuck with them. Well who could hate the Shi'ar that much? On the final page, we're greeted with the answer and the revelation of another potential mystery. Guess who ordered that attack in the first place? Hint, it wasn't someone with a big head, round eyes, and an inclination to probe asses. It was Havok and Polaris. They were the ones ordering the attack. They were the ones trying to kill the Shi'ar. For some reason, they hate them with a passion. What's that mean? I don't know but the next issue better come out soon so we can find out! Waiting this long to see these characters again just sucks on so many levels. I would say better late than never, but what the fuck.

So after all this time and incessantly ignoring such a gaping plot hole, is this issue worth the wait? Did waiting all this time for Rachel, Polaris, and Havok make it any less satisfying? Well I'm a bitter drunk who still holds grudges to sports teams I lost money betting on so maybe I'm not the best guy to ask. After reading this issue, it didn't feel like a true return to form because Havok, Rachel, and Polaris didn't really play much of a part. Yeah, they showed up and we got some idea of what has kept them in space all this time, but it's not enough to make readers completely forget about all the time they waited for this shit. It's hard to care as much after so much shit has happened in between. It's still relevant, but it's more underwhelming than it should be.

Never-the-less, it was still a nicely crafted comic. The exotic scenery and the cosmic feel of the story came together nicely, but it felt a little choppy at times. There was some nice action with Magneto, Gambit, and Frenzy. As is often Carey's style, he sets up a few mysteries that Rogue is left trying to resolve at gunpoint. It's a refined if not overly so first issue to an arc. If nothing else it shows that there was a good reason for Havok, Rachel, and Polaris to remain stranded. They were kind of stuck in ways they couldn't fix. It's not an overly contrived excuse nor is it exceedingly elaborate. It is what it is and it works.

Waiting aside, this issue was as enjoyable as you would expect any Mike Carey X-book to be. It's a significant change of pace and locale from the previous arc with Legion, but it doesn't feel rushed and it sets up a nice scenario for the story to unfold. I could go on several more rants about why this story with Rachel, Havok, and Polaris couldn't be told sooner and how it's total bullshit that they were basically ignored while so much shit went down in the other X-books. But I'll pop some Nyquil and save that for another blog post. For now, X-men Legacy #254 gets a 4 out of 5. It has set up a cosmic stage for an awesome struggle. Now all Mike Carey has to do is use it, abuse it, and everything else in between to make it awesome while somehow making Havok, Polaris, and Rachel relevant again. It seems impossible and I have doubts that it can be done, but then again I'm a drunk. What do I know? Nuff said!

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