Sunday, October 23, 2011
X-men Legacy #256 - Upheavals of Awesome
I know there's several metric tons of awesome going on throughout the X-books with Uncanny ending, Schism, and Fear Itself. Given my limited time between drinking binges and hangovers, it's impossible for me to keep up most of time. I do my best to give certain books the attention they deserve, but much like the American education system there will be those that get left behind and screwed over in ways they don't deserve. That's a good metaphor for X-men Legacy. It has been without a doubt one of the most consistent X-books in the past half-decade and Mike Carey has been one of it's most consistent writers. But like a good binge in Tijuana, the end will eventually come and the morning after will kick your ass. That's why it's important to enjoy the high now because when it ends, you may find yourself in a motel room in Columbia with a fat transvestite spooning you.
X-men Legacy has been telling a very important story. It's bringing Rachel, Havok, and Polaris back into the picture after they've been MIA for nearly two freakin' years. It's a story that's been brewing for quite some time, but now we're finally getting an explanation. Mike Carey went to great lengths to tie this story into the events of Age of X and the aftermath. Yet for all his attention to detail what did he get? Well seeing as how this story takes place while Schism, Fear Itself, and Uncanny X-Force are kicking the collective asses of every other Marvel book I would say he's more unfortunate than every Enron stock holder combined. He's been telling a great story with X-men Legacy. It involves the Shi'ar, mind control, and a space station that's falling into a star. Yet it can't help but slip under the radar because of the competition. On top of it all, this is Mike Carey's last arc! So yeah, he should be pissed. But that doesn't mean his stories aren't still awesome.
X-men Legacy #255 we learned more about the civil war that Rachel, Havok, and Polaris got caught up in. As is often the case, the Shi'ar's nasty habits of oppressing other races like the Insectoid Grad Nan Holt (basically cousins of your typical cockroaches in a Brooklyn apartment) has come back to haunt them. Magneto, Frenzy, Gambit, and Rogue finally arrive to mount a rescue. But the space station, Gul Damar, is falling into a star. So it's basically your typical Tuesday for the X-men.
At the end of X-men Legacy #255 Magneto, Frenzy, and Gambit finally have a tearful reunion with Havok and Polaris. And by tearful reunion I mean Havok and Polaris are being mind controlled by the Insectoid Grad Nan Holt and their first instinct is to beat the living shit out of their rescuers. It's basically par for the course for a typical X-men rescue, but it still makes for some awesome visuals. It's Magneto versus his own daughter and Frenzy versus the guy Mangeto's daughter is boning. Sounds like a fair fight.
It's a regular family reunion for the X-men. Meanwhile Gambit is stuck fighting Krovus, the guy that's probably been boning Rachel off panel. Since Cyclops isn't present, Gambit has to be the one to give him the typical introduction that every father gives to their daughter's boyfriend. He's horribly ill-equipped and not because Korvus is bigger and stronger. It's because he's able to call for backup from the massive armies of Insectoid's that are watching the whole battle like a home game for the Philadelphia Eagles. And like a home game for the Eagles, the fans get angry and unruly when shit doesn't go their way or they have too much to drink, whichever comes first. So they join in the fun and attack. All the while the Shi'ar that the X-men were working with watch on only mildly impressed. They seem to accept that they're many different kinds of screwed and start shooting off their larger weapons. And no, that's not a dick joke.
Unfortunately for the laws of physics in this or any other universe, firing big ass weapons on an already damaged space station tends to fuck things up. As soon as the Shi'ar start waving their dicks at the Insectoids and firing off their weapons, they trigger a breach in the area where Rogue, Rachel, and a group of Shi'ar pirates that are not unlike Somali pirates, just less ruthless. Rachel has to once again show that she has her mother's flare by sealing up the breach. Rogue then decides that they should separate so she can go catch up with the X-men and tell the Shi'ar to knock this shit off. I'm assuming she knows they're just going to tell her to suck it, but it's a matter of principle I guess.
Along the way Rogue finds one of the Shi'ar officials that was actually against firing off their high-energy weapons on an already crippled space station. What did he get in return? He got fucking shot. That's basically how the Shi'ar pecking order words. If you try to be reasonable in any capacity, you get fucking shot. But beyond his life sucking royally, he tells Rogue that the particle cannons are fucking up the gravity for the station. Since he's a long ways away from some band aids and Nyquil, Rogue shows a little mercy and absorbs the guy so she can use his knowledge to fix this shit. Of all the ways you're going to go, being touched by Rogue (even in a non-sexual way) isn't a bad exit strategy.
Now you would think that the inhabitants of the space station that aren't batshit crazy would have an interest in assisting Rogue and Rachel. And you would be right, but the problem is there are a few beings that are batshit crazy on this space station. One such being introduces itself to Rachel as Friendless of the Ten-Red-Seed next, which sounds a lot like a gay fraternity ritual. Why is this worth mentioning? This is the asshole that knocked Rachel out with a little psychic douche-baggery. So that means Rachel finally has a chance to not be the target that so many redheads end up being in X-men comics. Just ask Jean Grey. Oh wait...
So in an effort to attack, Rachel does a little psychic douche-baggery of her own. In the process she discovers something pretty fucked up that definitely qualifies as another Mike Carey style twist that I'm going to miss so much when he leaves the series. This Friendless beast wasn't exactly another one of the Shi'ar's whipping boys. He was actually being abused by his own Insectoid brethren. By that I mean his family was killed, he was rounded up like a dog or a woman at Rick James's house, and exploited for his psychic talents. So what did he do? He took control of their minds and made them wage war on the Shi'ar. So in reality neither the Shi'ar or the Insectoids are the assholes. They're just pawns by some pissed off prisoner who actually has more than enough reason to see both races kill each other. I get the sense that if this thing was human, he would be one of those Occupy Wall Street guys with the oversized beard and hipster style clothes advocating that someone firebomb Warren Buffet's house.
This scene really changes up the nature of the story. It finally gives a reason as to why the Insectoids and Shi'ar are fighting. It also shows how Havok and Polaris are being controlled. On every level, it's all part of one exceedingly pissed off creature's plot to screw over the people who made his life miserable. In a sense you really can't blame the guy. If you have that kind of psychic skill, do you just take it and let your own people exploit it? Or do you use it to exploit them and the Shi'ar's tendency to be assholes? Nine out of ten people would probably do the same.
Rachel doesn't show much sympathy for guys who start wars between two races. So while Friendless is preparing to fuck her up, she unseals the breach and lets the vacuum of space shut this asshole up. It's about as effective as giving Robert Downy Jr. some horse tranquilizers. Once he goes silent, the mind-control for Polaris and Havok ends. They're probably visibly confused and are curious as to why the hell Magneto and Frenzy are with the X-men. But they're kind of in the middle of an interstellar war so that gets set aside for the moment. Magneto and Polaris work together to seal the breach with their powers. It's a nice father daughter moment akin to a man taking his daughter to the zoo. Although with Magneto, there always has to be a life-or-death situation or it just isn't heartfelt enough.
Now that the mind control is over and the breach is sealed, there can finally be a more appropriate reunion. Rachel and Rogue join up with Magneto, Polaris, Havok, Frenzy, and Gambit. There's presumably a lot of confused aliens as well, feeling like I do after I start drinking in one city and wake up in another. They obviously have a lot to talk about. At some point they'll have to explain why Magneto joined the X-men, why the Xavier Institute blew up, why the X-men are living on a rock in San Francisco Bay, and why there's a mysterious girl with red hair and green eyes named Hope Summers running around. But all that shit falls to the wayside when they find out that the space station is falling into a star. Some things are just more important I guess. But still, a slight mention just to get some wide-eyed reactions would have been fun.
Now to fix a falling space station, it's not as easy as getting the necessary parts from a Radioshack. This space station is the size of a fucking planet. To get where they need to go, they need something a little quicker than an elevator. So Rogue leads them to a little something called a Flux Array, which despite the bland name would have Star Trek fans everywhere jizzing their pants. It's basically a gravity rail gun that is like an express elevator to the source of the gravity generator. Rogue knows all this thanks to that unfortunate Shi'ar that got shot earlier and she needs to use it to get to where she needs to go and fix it. To do this, she needs help from Frenzy. Now keep in mind that Frenzy is new to being a hero. She's been on the wrong side of so many X-men battles in the past and thanks to Cyclops's penis, she's now on the X-men's side. So she agrees to lend Rogue her powers and a hand in fixing this shit. It's a nice way to show that she's becoming a hero and it's also a nice way to demonstrate just how powerful Cyclops's penis is.
So the X-men have reunited and they're prepared to fix the space station. It sounds like they can finally catch their breath. All will soon be well and good. They can start thinking about how they'll explain Utopia and the presence of Hope Summers. Well if shit were that easy in the X-books, no one would read them. While Rogue and Frenzy are on their way to do a quick repair job, our old friend Friendless reveals that the vacuum of space didn't do a good enough job killing him. He finds his way to an air lock on the station where he takes control of a few more Shi'ar. With them, he plans on further fucking this space station and everyone in it. I'm starting to think the X-men should adopt the same rules as real people do with zombies. Unless you shoot an enemy in the head, assume they'll come back and fuck you up even more.
Mike Carey's X-books have always been just the right balance of style and substance. He doesn't try to blow up the fucking universe with every arc. He tells strong, focused stories that feel much bigger than they might actually be. Well this issue really highlights all the strengths of that style except in this case the story is every bit as big as it feels. The X-men aren't just trying to free their friends of mind control. They're trying to save a whole fucking space station from falling into a star. It sounds like a Michael Bay style plot, yet it has Martin Scorsese style depth. Now the past few issues have been mired in unanswered questions. Like how the fuck did Polaris, Rachel, and Havok get caught up in this shit and why are they fighting their friends? Well this issue answers it. Mind Control may seem simple on paper, but the way Mike Carey develops Friendless and his motivations really make it deeper in all the right ways.
This is by far the most complete issue yet in this overdue reunion arc. The only problem some may have with it is that now Rachel, Havok, and Polaris aren't being mind controlled anymore. That means they have no excuse to react to all the shit that's happened in the past two years since they've been away from Earth. Now granted a lot was going on that prevented them from learning the full story, but still there wasn't even a hint dropped as to what had happened so we didn't get a reaction. Many X-fans including myself would just love to see what Rachel's reaction to Hope Summers would be. Maybe she'll have the same reaction as all angry Jean Grey fans, but we just don't know because it wasn't shown. I'm hoping it gets shown eventually, but that's one major plot hole that can't and shouldn't be ignored (although that's never stopped Marvel before).
X-men Legacy #256 was as enjoyable an issue as any Mike Carey X-book. Yeah, it got a little lost in the midst of so many other X-men events like Fear Itself, Schism, and Uncanny X-Force. I wouldn't say it's as awesome as those stories, but it's still enjoyable. And since this is Mike Carey's last major arc, it's one X-men Legacy fans everywhere should savor like chocolate sauce dripping from Pamela Anderson's breasts. Issues like this will only make me miss Mike Carey even more. That's why I give X-men Legacy #256 a 5 out of 5. This issue gives plenty of reasons why Mike Carey has been such a consistent writer on the X-books for so long and it gives just as many reasons to go on a self-hating drinking binge once it's over. Nuff said!