Saturday, November 12, 2011
X-men Legacy #258 - Homecoming Awesome
There are some things in life you don't mind being late. Your tax bill, your alimony payment notices, and the first day of school come to mind. Normally, I would add unresolved plot holes from my favorite comics to that list as well. There was a time where the X-books had a large 900-pound-gorilla in the corner of a room throwing shit in the face of every X-men fan. That gorilla was the absence of Rachel, Havok, and Polaris. These characters were launched into space way back when the old Bush Jr. was still in office and before the housing market collapsed. After they were left to rot in space for a few years, Mike Carey finally polished his large brass balls and took up the challenge of bringing them back in the picture. And wouldn't you know it? He's turned it into a damn good story.
What's made this arc so incredible is that the more you read it, the less pissed you become that it's taken this long for Rachel, Havok, and Polaris to show up again. Now maybe I'm in the minority or I'm just more drunk than usual, but when a decent story emerges from a plot hole that offers a viable explanation for why they weren't around sooner then I'm more willing to overlook the gap. Mike Carey has turned this arc into an epic, sci fi struggle that would give George Lucas a boner.
In a daring rescue effort Rogue, Magneto, Gambit, and Frenzy traveled to the Gul Damar space station where they get caught up in a civil war between the Shi'ar and the Insectoid Gran Nan Holt. They're alien races and not heavy metal bands so bear with me because these guys are the reason that Rachel, Havok, and Polaris couldn't make it home. They were essentially wrecked along the Jersey Turnpike and abducted by the cast of the Jersey Shore where they were brainwashed and mindfucked, in some cases literally. The last issue revealed that this whole fucked up conflict was a direct result of an pissed off Insectoid prisoner named Friendless. He's about as friendly as he sounds because his psychic powers kept everyone, including Rachel, Havok, and Polaris at each others' throats. They managed to break his control, but even the vacuum of space hasn't shut Friendless up. While Rogue and Frenzy try to prevent Gul Damar from falling into a stary, Rachel has to unleash some psychic whoop-ass against Friendless. It all sounds good on paper until one of their Shi'ar buddies, Shovel Redhand, screws them over and tries to outright steal the array and for money no less. It just shows that greed is not bound by species.
X-men Legacy #258 picks up right where the screwing over began. Rachel is fighting a losing battle against Friendless while the rest of the X-men are being used for target practice by Shi'ar weapons. Rogue and Frenzy were in the process of fixing the gravity array before Shovel showed up. While he's in the process of fantasizing about all the alien pussy he'll be able to buy, Rogue and Frenzy try to stop him. But wouldn't you know it? The son-of-a-bitch has a personal force field. Alien pirates. Go figure.
Now keep in mind that Sovel isn't just screwing over the X-men. He's screwing over the thousands if not millions of innocent souls in Gul Damar. But does he care? Fuck no! If it doesn't pay, he doesn't give three tenths of a shit. While he's channeling his inner Somali pirate, Rachel is still in a psychic death match with Friendless. But remember that earlier in this arc, Friendless succeeded in knocking Rachel out cold for days. So who do you think is winning this battle? I'll give you a hint. It's not the one that readers don't masturbate to you unless seeing grotesque, slobbering aliens give you a boner. I'm sure that kind of shit exists in Japan somewhere.
Someone has to turn the tide on Sovel. Since Rachel won't do it, Rogue does as is Mike Carey's tendency. Remember that little teleportation gizmo that Sovel used to transport himself to the gravity controls? Well Rogue swiped that and guess what she does with it? She uses it to call in a little backup. Keep in mind they were in the line of fire of a massive Shi'ar super weapon. Being transported to the top of a space station that's falling into a sun is actually an upgrade, but not by much. They waste no time in taking down Sovel. He's outnumbered and pissed a lot of people off. He really didn't have a chance and that's a good thing. Assholes like him don't get screwed over enough. I don't know if this is a hidden message to the occupy Walls Street crowd, but it's a bit too subtle.
So Sovel goes down quicker than Ricky Martin at Elton John's birthday party. They effectively stop him from swiping the gravity controls and bathing in alien hookers for the next six months. However, he still fucked the thing up so they can't fix it as easily as they hoped. While they're wondering how they can get in touch with a Shi'ar repair man, they finally lend Rachel a hand. She's not going to beat Friendless so there's no shame in retreating. To get her mind back in place and prevent anyone from drawing dicks on her face, Magneto puts his helmet on her head. Since it blocks out telepathy, it effectively ends her psychic battle before Friendless roughs her up to Rick James levels. It's a creative way to win a battle and a nice reminder that Magneto's helmet isn't just a goofy looking prob that hides what an old fuck he is.
What follows next is a grim assessment of how fucked they are. First off, Friendless is still out there and has access to the same Shi'ar superweapon that he fired at the X-men earlier. Also, Sovel busted up the gravity drive that they need to save Gul Damar. This means they're not going to save the space station in a nice, clean manner. It's an X-men comics. Since when is it that easy? Instead, Rogue starts tapping some of the knowledge she absorbed in previous issues to overload it. Now anyone who didn't sleep through a physics documentary knows when you amp up the gravity too much, you get a black hole. Well that's what she's preparing to do to the star they're falling into. Rather than burn up, they'll be crushed into a singularity. Hey, I don't have a preference, but for obvious reasons the Shi'ar weren't cool with that. The X-men just tell them to trust her because making it through a black hole is no big deal for them. It's no worse than having to sit through the first hour of the Catwoman movie.
Now there's a lot of talk and not much action here. I get that Mike Carey is detailed, but there was a bit too much techno-babble at times. Not saying I don't mind a cliff notes version of how this alien tech works, but it was a bit overdone here. It doesn't get too boring though. While Rogue is using the gravity drive for her own little physics experiment, Friendless shows up again. This time he's packing heat. And by heat I mean that Shi'ar superweapon I mentioned earlier. So yeah, the action comes back in a big way.
Since Rachel has already had her pretty little ass handed to her on two different occasions by Friendless, she makes it a point to use different tactics this time. Those tactics involve tag teaming with Rogue in a way that could probably make for a good lesbian porno in another more awesome universe and launching a dual psychic attack on the ugly son-of-a-bitch. Friendless is pesky, but when two beautiful women are attacking you there's just no way around it. You're screwed in the exact opposite way that you hope. It's yet another instance of Rogue shining, but since this is the next to last issue for Mike Carey I'm more than happy to let him exercise his Rogue love while he can.
Rogue isn't done being awesome just yet either. Thanks to her psychic battle with Friendless, she picked up a touch of his brilliant alien mind as well. That mind allows her to make the necessary calculations for her little experiment with Gul Damar's gravity drive. Then with help from Magneto and Polaris, she throws the gravity drive into the sun. She compares it to lighting a cigarette in a room full of gasoline on a cosmic level. You might ask why the fuck they're doing something this dangerous on a space station with countless innocent lives? Well that's part of the fun of comics like this. You don't know how anyone can be that blatantly reckless. You just know it's going to make for an awesome moment.
That moment comes in the form of a massive fucking wormhole. That's what Rogue used her knowledge of alien physics to create and wouldn't you know it? She used it to solve another problem as well! Using Gul Damar's gravity drive, she opened a wormhole using the star they were falling into and had it bring them and the rest of the space station back to Earth. So it's official now. Rachel, Havok, and Polaris are home! They're home and they brought an alien space station with them. It's a wonderfully creative way to get them back to Earth while solving the whole falling into the sun problem in the process. It's the kind of multi-tasking that only Mike Carey can pull off and he does in a way that will be sorely missed when his run ends.
The Shi'ar on Gul Damar are safe. The X-men's Shi'ar buddies are safe and promise to make Sovel's life a living hell for betraying them. There's still a matter of a Shi'ar space station now being in orbit of Earth, but that's a problem for another time. It makes for a nice goodbye between the X-men and their Shi'ar buddies. It also finally leads to the moment we knew was coming from the second this arc began. Rogue, Gambit, Magneto, and Frenzy ship Rachel, Havok, and Polaris back to Earth where they haven't been in quite some time. They're understandably confused when they find out that Rogue is taking them to San Francisco rather than Westchester. There's even a nice bit on the final page that shows Rogue knows just how much catching up these three will have to do.
All I can say to that is damn! Havok, Rachel, and Polaris will need several hours to pick their jaws up off the floor when they find out all the shit that went down while they were gone. Let's see what they missed. They weren't around when the institute blew up (again). They missed Professor Xavier being shot in the head. They didn't get to see the birth and return of Jean Gre-I mean Hope Summers (like Rachel won't make that mistake too), the mutant messiah. I'm pretty sure Rachel may be unnerved by what she sees, but knowing Marvel they'll never touch on that because that would make too much sense. Then there's the whole move to San Francisco and Utopia. That's a lot to catch up on and at some point I have to believe that Havok, Rachel, and Polaris will just throw their hands up and say "fuck it."
Whatever their reaction, Mike Carey has once again astonished in his last arc for X-men Legacy. Everything came together with this issue. If the point of the arc was to get Rachel, Havok, and Polaris back into the fold then he succeeded. If the point was to make it a great story, then he succeeded in that too. It's not enough to just pick these three up and teleport them back to Utopia. He has to make it so they collapse a whole fucking star and travel in a wormhole across the fucking galaxy. I don't know if Mike Carey was shooting for overkill, but he sure as hell succeeded! There were a few areas where we didn't get a full resolution of the Shi'ar/Insectoid conflict and there was a bit too much techno-babble in certain areas. But overall, it was as solid an arc as anyone can ask for. If this is Mike Carey's swan song, he's going out in style.
The end of this issue was a bitter reminder that Mike Carey's run is almost over. He's made X-men Legacy one of the most consistent series for years and now he has one issue left to tie up all the loose ends. While another writer is already set to take over, the series just won't be the same without him. In many ways that makes this issue all the more meaningful because it really highlighted the kind of writing that Mike Carey does so well. As such, I give X-men Legacy #258 a 5 out of 5. This is Mike Carey at his best and you had better enjoy it now. Because when he's gone, I foresee many X-men fans going into the worst kind of crack withdrawal. But once the vomiting and shivering stops, I'm sure we'll all look back on arcs like this and say it was worth it. Nuff said!