Sunday, February 26, 2012
X-men Legacy #262 - Biblical Awesome
Usually when a character is grossly overpowered in a comic, they come off as more boring or bland than a speech by Al Gore when he's had several hits of Valium. Overpowered characters went out of style when people started realizing that the stories surrounding such characters were more predictable than Mitt Romey's hair style. There are only so many stories you can tell with a character than can literally punch his way out of anything whether it's an exploding planet or a parking ticket. So when an overpowered character like Exodus comes along, it usually means there's going to be a lot of fighting and a lot of trash talk. But you usually don't expect any existential elements that will make you question the inherent mysteries of the multiverse.
Yet Christos Gage managed to avoid that pitfall. In his previous issue of X-men Legacy, he brought Exodus back into the picture after being MIA for the last few years (presumably spending his free time fucking with Pat Robertson as I'm assuming that shit never gets old). Even though he's one of Magneto's former acolytes, he didn't show up at the Jean Grey Institute looking to bust their heads for not making him the school's official panty inspector. He showed up because he in his infinite wisdom had determined that the schism that divided the entire mutant race was going to destroy them all and he couldn't allow it. He was going to just ask Wolverine to work out his differences with Cyclops. He was telling him in the same way the IRS tells us that the income tax if voluntary. This led to a pretty elaborate and pretty awesome battle that ended with Exodus finding out the major details of what happened in Schism. He then determined that Wolverine's team wasn't the one he should be beating up. It was Cyclops that needed his ass kicked.
Now under less fucked up circumstances, I assume Wolverine would have no problem letting someone like Exodus slap Cyclops around a bit. If for no other reason than to wound him in a way that make-up sex with Emma Frost can't heal. However, Utopia is still full of kids that didn't join the Jean Grey Institute. While he still resents Cyclops, he and his team still have an obligation to stop Exodus. It's something that Rogue and Wolverine actually argue about in the first pages of X-men Legacy #262. It actually revisits the whole premise of what led the two teams to schis in the first place. Rogue wants to stay behind to warn Utopia. Wolverine wants to just go after Exodus since he lost his teleportation powers, once again due to Rogue. He just doesn't want Cyclops sending kids to take on someone like Exodus. But Rogue sees it differently. They both have very valid concerns and that's part of what makes the tension so very real. You usually don't get shit that real when a guy like Exodus is dicking around.
In an effort to avoid a very awkward reunion with Cyclops, Wolverine loads his team up in the Blackbird and flies them out in pursuit of Exodus before he can reach Utopia. Rogue later catches up with them via teleportation and right before they're about to crash into him no less. Makes me wonder if she was just holding back so she didn't have to listen to Wolverine bitch and moan about how much he hates the guy that married Jean Grey. Whatever her reason, she returns and even borrows Cannonball's powers to get the ball rolling on the battle. Even though Exodus was lightly drained in the previous issue, it still requires an all out assault just to stop him before he reaches his destination.
Some elements from other X-books were incorporated here, much to Gage's credit. He mentions the Jean Grey Institute's precarious financial situation, which makes crashing the jet into Exodus a financially unviable tactic. It's subtle, but it's one of those little things that goes a long ways in a book. Besides, it just means that Rogue has to teleport Wolverine and the others out into mid air where they wrestle Exodus out of the sky until he hits the ground in a meteor-like strike that would make Michael Bay cum in his pants. It's a nice way to get the ball rolling while showing everyone that there are more economically practical ways to take down an overpowered enemy without crashing expensive shit. The GOP candidates would do well to take notice.
Like Brett Favre after he breaks his ankle in the middle of a championship game, Exodus gets up and shakes off the impact. Wolverine and his team take not chances with this guy. They attack in full force, laying into him before he can get his second wind. Seeing as how he roughed them up pretty good in the last issue, they're due for a little payback. And this time it isn't just Rogue that shines. Others like Iceman demonstrate that he can use his powers for more than making nude ice sculptures of Jessica Alba, taking on a hulking ice form to help add a little force to his attacks. All the while Rachel has to hold back and use her telepathy to keep Exodus from mind-raping them into thinking their bodies had been anally probed to the point of paralysis. Again, it's one of those little elements that Gage hasn't really demonstrated to this point, but damn it if he makes it work.
That doesn't mean Exodus doesn't start hitting back at one point. He's on a holy mission damn it and like most religiously motivated crusades, he's not going to let a little thing like reason hold him back. He manages to hit Wolverine with a blast that burns most of the flesh from his bones. Granted, that probably happens to him at least once a week, but it does show that Exodus can hit back and look badass while doing it. But it isn't just the hitting that makes the battle engaging. There's actually some character development in the mix of it all if you can believe that.
Since it wasn't until recently that Frenzy became a major player in the X-books, it's easy to forget that she and Exodus were once on the same team. They were once professional douche-bags as Magneto's acolytes, doing his bidding and finding ways to screw over the X-men and the human race. But then Frenzy was converted due to the power of Cyclops's penis in Age of X. Exodus readily points out that such an experience made her soft and he wasn't just referring to her cooch. Frenzy responds both with a punch to the face and a reminder that right or wrong, Cyclops didn't bail on everybody. It's nice way of showing where Frenzy is as a character and how she's come to accept her new role with the X-men. It's a great moment even if it is subtle. But if you can't appreciate it, then I'm sorry but you need better weed.
Since Exodus doesn't know or care about the power of Cyclops's penis, he has little issue with roughing up his old teammate. But to his credit, Exodus doesn't just do it because he's annoyed by her changing sides. He actually does a little preaching Billy Graham style, only not as insane. He admits he failed the Acolytes and in order to make up for his failure, he wants to reunite the mutant race. He genuinely believes that their lack of unity will destroy them. It's not your typical I'm-a-badass-so-I'm-gonna-beat-the-shit-out-of-people-who-annoy-me type babble and that's a good thing. Even if his efforts have some merit, the X-men don't buy it. Since Gambit has shown a desire to tap Frenzy's ass, he uses his powers to blow up Exodus's cape. It may not slow Exodus down, but it may increase his chances of getting laid and that's just as important.
Despite this onslaught and eccentric preaching, Exodus once again proves he's as overpowered as Pat Robertson wishes he were. He's able to beat back the X-men and shatter Rachel's psychic defenses. This allows him to use his own psychic powers to paralyze the team. It's not unlike the last issue where Exodus demonstrated too much power and too much insanity, even for a guy with a biblically inspired name. At this point readers may once again be frustrated by how overpowered this guy is. I share your frustration, but I have booze to help me with that. If there's been one flaw in this eventful arc, it's that everything the X-men do pretty much amounts to dick because Exodus is just that strong.
However, this is where Gage throws in yet another twist. Remember that argument Wolverine and Rogue had at the beginning of the book? The one where Wolverine would rather take down Exodus before Cyclops could throw kids into the battle? Well it turns out he wasn't drunk or just dwelling on the fact that he never got to lick Jean Grey's tits. Before Exodus can kill the X-men with his rants about salvation for the mutant race, Utopia's backup arrives. However, it isn't the Extinction Team. It isn't the security team either. It's Generation Hope and a couple of the New Mutants. Yep, they're all kids who in another world would be obsessing over SATs. It's a twist that may or may not vindicate Wolverine's concern, but they may be their best hope against Exodus so it makes for a very volatile situation with which to end the comic.
An arc based entirely around the premise of fighting one overpowered character still seems like it shouldn't work. It's something most of us can get in the real world by watching a boxing match with Manny Pacio against some wannabe lightweight that's 40 pounds lighter than him. But Christos Gage once again manages to take this premise and turn it into a damn good story. It's a story that involves more than just Exodus whipping out his dick and showing everyone that dares question it's prowess how much it hurts to fuck with him. He's on a biblical quest, misguided it may be, to reunite the mutant race whether they like it or not. Being reasonable just doesn't work for him. Diplomacy is for pussies. It may make him friends with Iran, but not with the X-men. It led to some great dramatic moments and a surprise twist with the appearance of Generation Hope. It's definitely the kind of overpowered brawl that actually measures up in ways that go beyond who punches harder.
I usually have some criticisms with X-men Legacy regarding how Rogue is often over-utilized as a cure-all for everything that ails the X-men. I still think it's a problem with other arcs involving her, but in this instance that sort of overuse actually has a valid purpose. She needs to be that flexible power-draining babe that shows off her cleavage in order to measure up against Exodus. And she doesn't take on every aspect of the fighting. Other characters like Frenzy and Gambit and even Iceman manage to shine. However, Gage still hasn't filled in some of the plot holes from the last issue. We still don't know what led Exodus to take this crazy stance about mutant unity. He was just thrown into the mix. That and some of the other dramatic elements that were discussed in the last issue like with Rogue, Gambit, and Frenzy were pretty much forgotten. But most readers probably won't give a shit since the drawn out battle is so damn entertaining.
X-men Legacy has been in a transitional state for the past few issues. The end of Mike Carey's legendary run and the beginning of Christos Gage's run has been a volatile time for this series. For the most part, Gage has measured up respectfully. However, this is the first issue to date where he's really set himself apart. With this issue, he's delivered the kind of awesome for X-men Legacy that I thought would take a while to match after Mike Carey's departure. As such, his accomplishments with this issue are all the more respectable. That's why I give X-men Legacy #262 a 5 out of 5. It feels good to be this thrilled by an issue of X-men Legacy again. So long as it doesn't throw in too many scenes with Rogue shacking up with men four times her age, I think the future of this series is bright. Nuff said!