Saturday, January 28, 2012
X-men Legacy #261 - Reflections of Past Awesome
I've taken some heat for my assessment of X-men Legacy lately. Some complain I make too big a deal out of the Magneto/Rogue shit. Granted, it makes for great jokes about senility and Anna Nichole Smith, but I do admit it gets old. While I still feel it's worth belaboring, I haven't let it completely destroy my outlook on X-men Legacy. I still enjoy many aspects of this book, even though Mike Carey has left. The torch has already been passed to Christos Gage, who is best known for his work on Avengers Academy. He already showed us what he can do with X-men Legacy #260.1. Overall, it was a decent comic. But let's face it, he's trying to follow Mike Carey's legacy. That's like trying to fuck a beautiful woman after she's been ravaged by Brad Pitt for two straight hours. You've got your work cut out for you.
Christos Gage began his run by having the Legacy crew establish themselves at the Jean Grey Institute for Higher Learning. They're basically the senior staff that hasn't gotten tenure yet, assuming of course they start bribing the teachers union. So when something like a demon hoard arrives to attack the school, they're on the front lines. X-men Legacy #260.1 demonstrated that they can handle this role nicely and just as with Mike Carey, Rogue takes center stage with her ability to use a massive cocktail of powers and beat down anything that keeps students from their daily does of torture in an algebra class. Boy, what I wouldn't have given for a demon attack in high school. But I guess that's besides the point. In addition to being the unofficial patrols, they also have their share of high school drama. Rogue is still lamenting that Magneto is no longer slipping her the high hard one and Frenzy is still reeling from the influence of Cyclops's penis in Age of X. It leads her and Gambit to end Gage's first issue in a spit-swapping contest. So at least Gage has captured Mike Carey's spirit of having equal battles between sinister forces and the characters' own genitals.
X-men Legacy #261 marks Christos Gage's first issue that doesn't remind readers of how much math sucked back in school. It doesn't start off with a demon attack or any shit like that. It focuses on drama while showing the Legacy crew as they teach some of the students at the Jean Grey Institute, presumably for shitty pay and little recognition like most teachers. Rogue is still dwelling on Magneto's wrinkly scrotum banging against her ass while Frenzy and Gambit have an awkward moment. They're quick to label that kiss in the last issue a mistake. Gambit still seems hung up on Rogue. I assume his scrotum is still collapsed due to the knowledge that she preferred getting her clam filled by Magneto. Frenzy seems to acknowledge this, which is kind of fucked up because that kiss at the end of the last issue could have started something new. Here, it's just glossed over. It's almost as bad as the Cyclops/Emma relationship, minus the porno elements.
And then there's the Rogue/Magneto plot that hasn't been resolved (or effectively set up for that matter). I know I'll get a few comments whining about how I belabor this point, but it's worth belaboring when someone like Rogue that's so competent in so many other fields is stupid enough to spread her legs for a guy that has a history of wanting to extinguish the human race. But I'll try and taper my drunken rage for the moment. Gage actually takes some time here to explore that plot that seemed to be pulled out of one too many different asses. It's nothing elaborate. It's just Rogue chatting with Rachel Grey, the other red-hared green-eyed mutant that doesn't have the Phoenix Force anymore. The drama here is basically taken right out of a High Grant movie. Rogue never really cleared the air with Magneto, but doesn't want to call him to give the impression that she thinks she's wrong for coming to Westchester. Throw in Jennifer Love Hewitt and cheesy dialog and you've got a shitty romantic comedy.
Thankfully, drama only takes up a few pages of this issue. A much bigger issue emerges when Blindfold, a mutant with the power to spoil every movie and football game, shows up and lets them know they have a visitor and it's not Jehovahs Witnesses, but it's just as unwelcome. Early on in Mike Carey's run, he involved Exodus in a plot with Charles Xavier. Then after Messiah Complex, Exodus has been MIA. Presumably, he's just as disgusted with Rogue boning Magneto as well. But he shows up at the front door of the Jean Grey Institute looking all red and douchy. Rogue calls Wolverine and the rest of the Institute staff to meet at the front door to beat this asshole to a pulp before he threatens to level the school. Yet that's not his goal if you can believe that. He says he's there to save mutant-kind.
No really. That's why he says he's there. Not to kidnap someone or kill anyone. That's his stated mission. He says that the schism between mutants is dangerous. Like his name implies, he's going Old Testament on them minus the genocide and misogyny. He says that abandoning Utopia was a bad decision and one that will doom the mutant race. It's not an unreasonable assessment because they've already done the divide part in their enemies' divide and conquer strategy. Now he says they need to resolve their differences with Cyclops. But here's the catch. He's not asking them. He's telling them, which sounds like my old baseball coach only without the threat of throwing baseball bats at my head.
The X-men respond to this as you would expect. They don't like being told what to do even if the asshole doing it does have some valid point. So Rogue leads the assault with Cannonball, Wolverine, Rachel, Gambit, Frenzy, and even Iceman present. That sounds like a pretty tough team until you remember that Exodus is one of those overpowered villains that in a real world setting would human skin to wipe his ass. The battle here is pretty well-organized. The X-men put up a decent fight, but Exodus is just too damn resourceful. So how do they beat him? Well why not take a page right out of...the last issue. Okay, that's not very original, but that's what happens here.
In the first issue when the battle got tough, Rogue just called timeout to go grab some powers from the students at the Jean Grey Institute to tip the balance. She does the exact same thing here. And I mean almost beat for beat. It's one thing to do this in the same series, but doing it after it was already done in the last issue? At least give me some time to kill the necessary brain cells to forget! At least Gage makes it somewhat comedic this time. Rogue swipes some of Exodus's teleportation powers and makes her way to the lower levels of the institute where she meets up with Kid Gladiator, who was introduced as another overpowered douche-bag in Wolverine and the X-men. She asks to borrow his powers. He responds by saying he'll only do it if she joins his harem and presumably participates in an orgy. I admit, if I was in his position I would probably do the same. But Rogue isn't without her charm. She swipes his powers with a kiss before leaving. While this pisses off Kid Gladiator's guardian, he does look quite smitten. It's a cute way of showing that even alien teenagers get awkward boners.
Armed with Kid Gladiator's powers, Rogue returns to the battle and tips the balance. She arrives just as Exodus is reminding Frenzy that they used to be on the same team and she used to believe in their cause until she was corrupted by Cyclops's penis. He threatens to remove her memories of his overpowering dong, which could have made for a very powerful moment. But Rogue comes in just in time and beats the shit out of Exodus. It's a great spectacle, but at the same time it seems like a missed opportunity because it could have fleshed out the conflict with Frenzy. She's clearly in a vulnerable position as most women are after banging Cyclops. The fact that she didn't want her memories changed says something, but it isn't explored and that's just disappointing. So you're stuck watching Rogue beat up Exodus. I concede that's a decent consolation prize.
But despite this ass-kicking, Exodus refuses to back down. You almost have to admire the guy because he believes he's saving the mutant race and not just being a raging douche. The X-men belabor their case that they couldn't stay on Utopia. Exodus just can't wrap his head around why they would willingly divide their species. Then out of frustration, Rogue opens her mind to let him see for himself. What we get as a result is a quick flashback that shows the events of Second Coming and Schism all on one page. It's a nice little recap. It seems out of place since this is usually the kind of shit that the .1 issues are supposed to address, but it offers yet another reminder of what led to Schism. Again, I haven't killed enough brain cells to forget so for most readers this is wasted ink. For me, it just means I need stronger weed.
Nevertheless, it gets the job done. Exodus sees this and understands. And in a very non-douche way, he stops fighting. He actually says that Wolverine and his crew are completely justified in their actions. He even makes it a point to list Hope as a really fucked up part of the equation that for some ungodly reason is the key to the mutant race's salvation. He seems to see her as a threat so he must be an angry Jean Grey fan as well. He leaves the institute saying he's going to fix this, but that has some rather fucked up implications. It doesn't take long for Rogue and the rest of her crew to realize that they may have just sent Exodus to Utopia to fuck things up more than they already are. It's a rather ironic twist, but one that puts a nice twist on this conflict and could potentially lead to a very awkward confrontation with Team Cyclops.
It's amazing how it seems like so much shit happens in an issue, but it's just as long as every other book that's overpriced at $3.99. A lot happens in this book and most of it is pretty awesome. Christos Gage has had two issues so far to set a new tone for X-men Legacy and with this issue, I'm not afraid to say he's succeeding. He's not taking this series down a radically different path. Like so many of the other X-men Regenesis books, the fallout from Schism is still affecting many of the characters. The plot here is sound. Exodus, despite his history of being an asshole, actually arrives with some valid concerns for mutant kind. Even he understands that being divided makes them vulnerable. It leads to a fight with some very interesting undertones and one Gage handles nicely. The prospect of this battle extending over to Utopia adds even more potential that unified coherence that has made the X-books a new kind of awesome.
There's a lot to like about this issue, but there are still some elements that hold it back. I've pointed out how fucked up the Rogue/Magneto plot is and how it should be taken out back to a dark alley, shot in the head, and pissed on before being burned. So I won't repeat myself. But the fight in this issue followed the same formula as the last issue almost to the letter. Everyone starts getting their ass kicked, Rogue steps out for a moment to borrow some powers from students, and then she returns to beat the shit out of whatever threat they were facing. It's nice the first time around, but the sheer lack of variation between two issues just makes it seem cliched. If this is how every issue is going to pan out, then it's going to be akin to being the weatherman in Death Valley. It just gets too fucking predictable.
Even if there was some copying and pasting going on, this is still a quality comic. There's plenty of drama and some elaborate fighting that makes for quite a spectacle. The prospect of taking that spectacle to Utopia offers plenty of appeal for the story. I like that Gage isn't just continuing the themes that Mike Carey set up and mixing them nicely with the general post-Schism status quo. There are a few shortcomings, but it's still an above average comic with the potential to be much better depending on how the next issue pans out. I give X-men Legacy #261 a 3.5 out of 5. I want to give it something higher, but the missed opportunities along with the recycled plot make it difficult to give it too high a mark. But if Gage can work his magic with the next few issues, I'll make a conscious effort to stop mentioning Mike Carey so often in my X-men Legacy reviews. Keep in mind I made a conscious effort to quit drinking before, so try and taper your expectations. Nuff said!