Sunday, January 15, 2012
X-men Legacy #260.1 - A New Legacy of Awesome
I tend to catch my share of flack for my drunken rantings on this blog. Sometimes it help that I'm too drunk to even remember the shit I wrote at times. My review for X-men Legacy #260 wasn't one of those reviews. I admit it was a bittersweet and disappointing moment in my history of drunken rants. I was genuinely dismayed at how Mike Carey chose to end his run on X-men Legacy, a book that he spent years turning into one of the most consistently awesome X-books on the racks. Between a seemingly needless plot with a needless character revival and needless scenes that show Magneto and Rogue swapping body fluids, there was too much for even my robust liver to process. But that doesn't mean I've given up on X-men Legacy and that doesn't mean my view on these characters is tainted, although the same can't be said for Rogue's pussy anymore.
The final issue of X-men Legacy (after the bullshit plot with Ariel was over), showed Rogue and most of her Legacy crew heading to Westchester to help Wolverine build the Jean Grey Institute for Higher Learning. It ended one era of X-men comics and entered another. So to set the stage for what this new era will entail, X-men Legacy released another one of Marvel's .1 issues under a new writer, Christos Gage. Aside from reminding me that I suck at math, this book also reminds readers that Mike Carey is gone. His legacy has been established and now it's Gage's turn to build on it. Despite the last issue, he has a daunting challenge ahead of him. He's like Peyton Manning's backup, sheltered behind a star and given very little chance. But Gage can still show that he's more Aaron Rogers than Curtis Painter. To do that, he'll have to show how the Legacy crew functions at the Jean Grey Institute and make it awesome.
He begins X-men Legacy #260.1 with the basics. Those football metaphors weren't just because I get extra drunk for the NFL playoffs every year. It was actually a prelude. Gage's first act for the legacy crew is for them to play a friendly game of mutant football on the grounds of the newly constructed institute. I never like to get too excited by just one panel, but I'm already liking the way Gage is thinking. It's what you would expect of a game of football if someone gave the Oakland Raiders steroids. It's full of superpowers, trash talk, and Rockslide gets obliterated worse than Joe Theisman's leg. Sure, he heals, but it's a nice light-hearted moment for the Legacy crew. Definitely a step up from Rogue boning Magneto.
The game ends in a way that was only slightly less exciting than the way the Broncos/Steelers Wild Card game ended where Tim Tebow cost me fifty bucks. Rockslide gets obliterated while Rogue shows off the control she has of her powers by not only pulling his sorry ass together, but making him more badass. It doesn't go unnoticed by Gambit, who has had a boner for her since Clinton was getting head from Monica. But this demonstration of control has a much larger message that Gambit and Frenzy realize. Rogue is moving forward with her newfound control and Gambit really is the same douche-bag he was back on Utopia, constantly looking for ways to bone her. Frenzy points this out to him, who still has wet panties for Cyclops. But neither are in a position to really bust each others balls so they agree to leave it in the past. They probably should have also agreed to check out a mysterious portal that opened not far from where Rockslide got the Ray Lewis treatment, but boners and wet panties come first I suppose.
That portal quickly turns into yet another crisis for the Jean Grey Institute. Fresh off the attack by Karoka, a sudden invasion of demons from another realm seems less daunting. Now some may be asking where the fuck these demons came from and how can they not be contrived? Well they actually serve a purpose here. While the Legacy crew and some of the Wolverine and the X-men crew get ready for battle, Beast actually uses this as an opportunity to lecture younger mutants on the finer points of demons. He assures everyone and the execs at Marvel that they're not ripoffs of the Alien movies. They're the N'garai, who hang out with the elder god, Cthon. I slept through my class on Marvel universe mythology so I won't begin to get into that, but makes this compelling is that Beast uses this lecture to essentially narrate what the X-men are up against. This way the reader doesn't have to sour wikipedia or get high to make their own conclusions. It's still a cliched demon invasion, but at least Christos Gage tries to make it feel logical.
And as true logic dictates, when demons come knocking on your door you treat them the same way you would treat a Jehovah's Witness. You fight back and if necessary, beat the everloving shit out of them. Like in previous Legacy books, Rogue leads the charge with Frenzy, Gambit, and Rachel Grey providing support. Even other non Legacy members like Iceman and Cannonball get involved, which helps make this book really feel like it's part of Team Wolverine now. In the background, Beast keeps lecturing as to how these creatures were sealed before and how they got out. It amounts to magic being an inexact (and horribly inefficient) science.
What really makes a .1 issue stand out in addition to reminding readers that math sucks is that it's organized as a much more coherent, self-contained story. Beast's lecture along with the battle between the Legacy crew and the N'garai help give this book the coherent feel that's so important to these titles. They could easily cut that shit out and make this just another issue of X-men Legacy. But then we wouldn't find out that all those little demons that the Legacy crew were slaying were the equivalent of worker ants. If you kill enough of them, the queen is going to take notice and as nature dictates the queen (or Mabdhara as Beast describes it) is always bigger and meaner than any of the other creatures. Except this one actually talks and threatens to use the bodies of the X-men to make the portal into her realm wider, presumably so she can move more of her shit into their domain. Sounds a lot like my ex-girlfriend, but not quite as cruel.
The battle quickly turns against the Legacy crew. The Mabdhara, also like my ex-girlfriend, is much meaner and more aggressive than her warrior drones. She quickly surrounds the Legacy crew and begins to overwhelm them. Then in true Legacy fashion, Rogue takes charge and comes up with a plan. She leaves the others to hold their own for a while, which sounds like a dick move until you find out what she's doing. First, she gets Cannonball's volatile sister, Paige, to take care of the demons that snuck past the X-men. Then she borrows powers from a couple of students. She doesn't even make them feel woozy either like she used to. She just reassures them that all the loud banging noises are nothing to be worried about. That's what my landlord told me about the neighbors/S&M club in my old apartment building. You know it's bullshit, but you just learn to accept it.
Armed with these new powers, Rogue storms out like an elemental titan. She has the size and grandeur of Kaorka, who joined the institute at the end of the first arc of Wolverine and the X-men. She also has Idie's powers. So the Mabdhara and her N'garai thugs really don't stand a chance. Rogue looks as badass as you would expect in an X-men Legacy book, stomping out the demon hoards in the same way 11th grade English class stomps out a student's will to live. Gambit, Frenzy, and the others get a few shots in, but it's Rogue who sends the demons packing. They eventually realize that they stand no chance and tuck whatever qualifies as their dicks between their legs and runs off.
It's a visually stunning way to end a fight that was nicely drawn out and perfectly orchestrated. These were all marks of Mike Carey's run and Christos Gage continues that theme nicely. Moreover, he continues the progress that Rogue made throughout Carey's run. Before Carey, Rogue really couldn't control her powers and she didn't have much authority with the X-men. This scene sends a clear message. Rogue not only has control. She has the credibility and respect of the other X-men. She's seen as a leader, a role that Cyclops took from her after Second Coming. It not only builds on what Mike Carey established, but it takes it to a new level under Gage.
The demons are gone and the inevitable clean-up begins. We're left to assume that the Jean Grey Institute either has significant emergency funds or the most understanding insurance company in the history of the universe. But while they're cleaning, Rogue and Gambit have a chat. But it's not the kind of chat you would expect from two characters that have been undressing each other with their eyes for nearly two decades. She just reminds Gambit that she has more control over herself than she did before, which probably means she's not going to be letting him in her panties anytime soon. Gambit really doesn't push either. It seems pretty pointless in some ways because most X-men readers know of their history. It seems utterly lost on them. It just reinforces what Rogue's huge display of power already made apparent. She's determined to protect the kids of the school from the kind of bullshit that fucked her up for years. It's a nice way of setting up the theme for X-men Legacy, but utterly ignores the underlying drama between these characters.
Not content to deal with old drama, Gage throws in a twist at the end to set up a new kind of drama. Since Rogue doesn't seem keen on inviting Gambit for a post-victory fuck, he meets up with Frenzy. It's understandable too since they're both struggling with dramas that involve love interests that won't fuck them. Gambit reflects on how Rogue doesn't depend on anybody anymore, therefore making her less inclined to sleep with him. Frenzy still belittles him, but that doesn't stop them from sharing a nice kiss at the end. It sounds random, but given all the sexual frustration these two endure it's amazing they haven't humped the first thing with a pulse.
I'm not against Gambit/Frenzy becoming a new couple. Let's face it, it's nowhere near as fucked up as some of the other pairings Marvel has thrown together over the years. This is one I'm sure some fans won't mind jerking off to, but others might be a bit put off by how Gambit and Rogue just seem completely uninterested in one another. Granted, Gambit's still probably emasculated after Rogue boned Magneto, but his relationship with her has never been overtly addressed. It feels like this relationship is being set up before the details surrounding Gambit and Rogue are filled in. Seeing as how Gambit/Rogue has some pretty rabid fans out there, I imagine this is going to piss them off worse than Tim Tebow pisses off atheists.
Whenever a comic goes through a transitional period, it's expected to be a little rough at times. It's not unlike taking a really big shit after having binged on tacos after getting drunk at two in the morning. It's a painful, yet necessary part of the process of life. The transition from Mike Carey to Christos Gage wasn't quite as messy. At times it was hard to notice a real change since so many of Mike Carey's stories are so deeply entrenched. But Gage definitely established a different tone. Now it's really not clear if this is just because the team is now at the Jean Grey Institute, in which case it wouldn't have mattered if Mike Carey stayed. But this issue really came off as Gage's attempt to show that he could write an X-men comic. At times it seems like he tries too hard, but he still succeeds.
Gage was very basic here. He had the Legacy crew interacting with a number of other Team Wolverine characters and each other. Not a whole lot was revealed from this. Rogue is still an aspiring leader and visionary, but her interactions with the others really didn't show much drama. She still looked pretty badass with how she used her powers, which she did daily in Carey's run so it's nice to see that Gage has kept that tradition. The final scene with Frenzy and Gambit seemed only somewhat random, but it didn't feel nearly as contrived as it could have been. Gambit and Rogue haven't been shown as being into each other since George W. Bush was still president. It's long overdue that something else come along and establish a new sense of drama.
Overall, this was a solid first issue for Gage. It had everything one could want in an X-men Legacy comic. It does a great job of taking the tone established by Jason Aaron in Wolverine and the X-men and integrating it into the style of storytelling of X-men Legacy. It's definitely a transition book and these books are always difficult to grade. Like my old algebra class, you have to use a curve or else you'll just skew the results. So with that in mind I'm giving X-men Legacy #260.1 a 4 out of 5. Part of me wants it to be lower. Part of me wants it a bit higher. But Gage really didn't make too many egregious mistakes here and he did utilize some compelling plots. So for that, I'll leave this score as tentative. Whether or not it sticks depends on how future issues are developed. For now, this is a solid X-men Legacy title. I'm sure I'll still catch shit for my assessment of this and previous X-men Legacy issues. That only means I have more excuses to get drunk. Thanks haters! Nuff said.