Sunday, January 1, 2012
X-men Legacy #260 - The End of a Legacy
Whenever a great era in anything ends there's some sort of fanfare. In the old days people would celebrate with drinking, parades, and orgies whichever came first. Comics have their share of eras. There was the golden age, the silver age, the guilded age, the fuck-comics-will-make-us-rich age, and the fuck-we're-going-bankrupt age. They all had their moments and the X-men were often part of those moments. As Marvel's biggest and often most overblown series, it's not uncommon for writers to make their mark on the books. It's just uncoming that they make that mark for so long. Chris Claremont did it for nearly two decades. The closest second...Mike Carey's run on X-men Legacy, which officially came to an end with issue 260.
The issues leading up to this final arc have been some of Mike Carey's best. He was able to tell a story that not only got Rachel, Havok, and Polaris back in the picture, but also utilized aliens. It's like the hot sauce of comics. A dash of aliens can spice up any story. But with two issues left, Mike Carey's next challenge was a bit more daunting. He had to catch X-men Legacy up with the events of Regenesis. He also had to have Havok, Rachel, and Polaris adjust to the new status quo of the X-men because before they were MIA, the team was still operating out of San Francisco and there wasn't another red haired, green eyed mutant messiah that looked like Jean Grey with Phoenix powers running around. While it was disappointing that we never saw just how far their jaws fell to the floor, it did open up another conflict involving another character that is supposed to be dead. That would be Ariel. Apparently, there was more demand to bring her back after her death in Second Coming (not more than two fucking years ago mind you) than Jean Grey. Now I have no idea where that demand is or how Marvel surmised it. I've been trying to smoke enough weed to help me wrap my head around it. So far no luck and my sperm count is now at 0. Thanks Marvel!
X-men Legacy #259 set up the last big moment for Mike Carey and as anyone that has followed his run to some degree would expect, it involves Rogue. It follows her as she makes her decision on who to follow after the big Schism. While we already know she goes with Wolverine, Carey is telling a story that shows she didn't just flip a fucking coin to figure this out. She's one of the few X-men that are respected in nearly every circle so she has incentive NOT to fuck this up. But while she was deciding, she discovered that they encountered a guest of sort when she made her way back to Earth with Rachel, Havok, and Polaris. Apparently, Ariel wasn't dead. She just got trapped in between dimensions. It's sort of like being lost on the Jersey Turnpike, but not quite as hazardous.
X-men Legacy #260 starts out by explaining just how Ariel ended up in this mess. Rogue fills in the blanks, flashing back to the events of Second Coming for those whose attention span with comics doesn't go back more than a few years. She was looking for Hope along with Wolverine and X-23. Then Bastion showed up and hit them with a missile. Being a teleporter, Ariel did what any normal human being would do that doesn't involve shitting her pants. She tried to teleport away. Like the knee-jerk reaction to zip up your pants when your mother catches you masturbating, it does not turn out well. Except instead of a scarred scrotum, you end up stuck between dimensions.
After Rogue tells her story to Cyclops and the science team, they put it on her shoulders to find a way to get Ariel back in one piece. Since she's the key to getting to this dimensional back alley, she has to be responsible. While she's musing over how she's going to handle this shit, she catches up with Rachel. We still never see her reaction to all the changes that have taken place since she's been gone or her opinion on Hope Summers if she has one. If it doesn't bother her that someone with the Phoenix Force (something she used to possess at least in part) that also looks like her dead mother is running around, then space fucked her up more than all the liquor in Las Vegas. She seems more concerned about Korvus, the alien she engaged in a little inter-species fetish play for a while. Rachel laments how Korvus isn't getting along well with the others. Losing his connection to the Phoenix Force just fucked him up. While it's nice they mention the Phoenix Force, they really don't seem to touch on the simple fact that the potential source is right on the island.
This is yet another missed opportunity. I was hoping that at some point Mike Carey would take some time to show Rachel, Havok, and Polaris reacting to Hope Summers. There's a very good reason to bring it up. During their adventure in space, Rachel and Korvus lost their connection to the Phoenix Force. Yet they don't even bother to mention Hope Summer? That's not just a missed opportunity. That's a ass ugly oversight of cosmic proportions. Even if Cyclops just told them off hand to not mention the Phoenix around Hope, it would have been enough. But it's flat out ignored here. For Mike Carey, that's enormously disappointing because he usually doesn't let plots like this dangle. This is a 900 pound gorilla fucking a giant squid and he's able to ignore it. Go figure.
The story quickly goes back to rescuing Ariel, a character that pretty much nobody mentioned or seemed to give three tenths of a shit about until this arc. Rogue manages to catch up with Hellion, who in an early X-men Legacy arc amped up his douche-factor to 11 when he nearly killed someone. She convinces him to help in this rescue effort. Frenzy even loans her some invulnerability like she did in the last arc. Cyclops and Dr. Nemesis express as much confidence as they probably would in Rick Santorum's presidential campaign. But they give Rogue a chance to do what she does best aside from wearing uniforms that show almost as much cleavage as Emma Frost.
The dimension they enter isn't very elaborate or detailed for that matter. In fact, it's pretty basic. Ariel is still a disembodied mess like she was at the end of the previous issue. Only a minor struggle ensues. Again, there's more missed potential for story here. It could have been much more of a spectacle. However, it isn't a walk down South Beach with a bag of cocaine and couple of half-naked supermodels. Hellion has to step it up here and actually save a life rather than recklessly endanger one. Yeah, he's still a douche after what he did in Legacy and in X-23. But he actually is able to step up in a way that's actually heroic.
Now if you read X-23 #19 (and you totally should), you may come off thinking that Hellion is a complete asshole. Well he is to some degree, but this comic shows he's capable of being a decent human being. He's able to take Ariel in her disembodied form and put her back together cell by cell. That's like trying to paint a mural with the head of a fucking pin blindfolded. And he pulls it off. Ariel is back in one piece and Dr. Nemesis has to say he was wrong to underestimate Rogue. Ah, who am I kidding. Dr. Nemesis never says he's wrong! He just concedes that Ariel is alive and starts treating her. So Marvel brings her back and keeps Jean Grey dead? I honestly don't know what to make of it.
That notion alone is mind-boggling enough. But what happens next is so fucked up that I can't describe it without shooting high-grade moonshine into my brain stem. After Rogue succeeds in rescuing Ariel, the scene shifts to that night and for reasons that aren't explained in any great detail she's naked in bed with Magneto. No, this isn't some poorly done piece of NC-17 fanfiction. No I'm not so high that I'm hallucinating my own comics again. This actually happens. Rogue is in bed with Magneto, they've presumably just swapped body fluids, and they're cuddling up in ways that give Twilight fans pussy boners. This after only a few issues back Rogue tells Magneto that she owes him nothing and doesn't see past all the bullshit he's inflicted. Yet she still bones him? After nothing was resolved with her and Gambit? I expect this shit from bad fanfiction writers that didn't complete 7th grade English, but not from Mike Carey. He's been very careful with the Rogue/Magneto relationship at times, but this is just a complete overfuck of the situation that I can't make sense of this with a sober or drunk mind.
This is worse than a missed opportunity. This is Mike Carey screwing up something that he was once the best at NOT screwing up. Other less talented writers are supposed to do shitty transitions that are random and completely out of character. Mike Carey is supposed to be more talented than that and for most of his run, he has been. So why the lapse? Why now of all times does he just throw Rogue and Magneto in bed together with no rhyme or reason? It does absolutely nothing to further the story in this issue. All it does is take a big steaming shit on an incredible legacy that Mike Carey spent years building.
After waking up from a hangover and cleaning up the vomit stains from this scene, we get another hastily glossed over plot that was also a missed opportunity. Korvus, still fucked up from not having the Phoenix Force anymore, is sent to meet up with the space thugs that the X-men crossed paths with during the last major arc. Apparently the whole relationship he built up with Rachel means jack shit now because he's sent to be the captain of this band of degenerates. Remember, their last captain screwed them over. Pretty much anyone aside from a drunk would be an upgrade. It's a decision that you would expect would have more drama, but it just seems like a way to get Korvus out of the picture because he wasn't message boards excited enough.
The whole issue is in a tailspin at this point, but in the end Mike Carey does manage to get his shit back on track before the stench becomes too overpowering. After all this random shit that pretty much destroys the issue, it finally gets back to the central theme of Rogue deciding on which side to join. She confronts Cyclops and basically tells him in a well-thought out and well-reasoned way that he's changed. It used to be that he had all these doubts and insecurities. Then he started boning Emma Frost and united the X-men and suddenly his balls are too big for the universe to handle. Well that worries Rogue and she actually tells Cyclops that he needs those insecurities. With that criticism, she decides to go with Wolverine and her role in the X-men Regenesis status quo is cemented. Then with Ariel, she travels to the ruins of the Xavier Institute to begin the rebuilding process with Wolverine. If only she had time to rebuild the damage to her credibility in this issue, but even the physics of comic books have limits.
Now I can't take anything away from Mike Carey. His run was a success by pretty much every measure. You don't have one of the longest tenures in the history of X-men without being successful on some levels. Mike Carey has delivered some amazing X-men stories, some of which I've reviewed and gone out of my way to praise in ceremonies that involve animal sacrifice. However, this was a shitty way to end such a wonderful run. So much wasted potential and some inexcusable WTF with Rogue and Magneto makes this issue a real disappointment. Mike Carey made his run special by focusing on character-based stories. He was great at scrutinizing the little things and avoiding the random WTF moments that you see in comics with more flash than flare. Reading this issue, you would never know that these were his strengths. They rescue Ariel. That's all find and dandy, but it really doesn't fit into what Rogue and the others were dealing with regarding Schism. That and her boning Magneto just destroyed the credibility that Carey spent half a decade building up.
While it was a disappointing issue, there were some strong elements that deserve praise. The final scene with Rogue and Scott was definitely the highlight. She actually addressed an important issue that has played out in other books like Schism and Uncanny X-men. She tells Cyclops that those doubts and insecurities he used to have are now a strength. His current attitude just doesn't work for her and pretty much everyone else that decided to go with Wolverine. She spoke for the entire Legacy crew minus Magneto. In addition, Ariel's little foray into other dimensions was resolved. Yes, it came at the expense of other conflicts involving Rachel, the Shi'ar, and other characters that people give more fucks about. But it was resolved.
So now that Mike Carey's run is over, I'm left with mixed feelings. I feel as though he should have ended with the arc that brought Havok, Rachel, and Polaris back because that would have ended everything on a high note. Instead, he had to do this one two-issue arc that leaves fans scratching their heads and vomiting uncontrollably from the thought of Rogue giving head to a guy that's probably three times her age. It really is a disappointment, but it doesn't take away from all the other great stories that Mike Carey has told. His legacy with X-men Legacy is solid if not somewhat cracked by these final two issues. I give X-men Legacy #260 a 2 out of 5, but Mike Carey's run in general is beyond scoring. He's done more for the X-books than most writers or fans could ever hope to do without blowing every top executive at Marvel and Disney several times over. So the bullshit in this issue not withstanding, I thank Mike Carey from the bottom of my heart for his work. May his legacy live on in the wet dreams of every Rogue fan from here until the end of time! Nuff said.