Saturday, March 17, 2012
X-men Legacy #263 - Making A Point (of Awesome)
Whenever I review X-men Legacy, I tend to be too harsh or too easy. I can be harsh because Mike Carey set such a high bar of excellence. It's like trying to go out drinking with Homer Simpson. There's a certain expectation of quality. The quality of a drunk is not unlike the quality of a comic, minus the hangovers and blackouts. It can leave an indelible impact and not just on your liver. X-men Legacy is an X-book with some pretty heavy hitters with characters like Rogue, Rachel Grey, Gambit, and Frenzy. It has no excuses for not meeting that level of quality and at times it does skew my perspective when I assess an issue, but I always try to be honest...honesty being proportional to my booze intake of course.
X-men Legacy is still settling after the events of X-men Regenesis. Rogue, Gambit, Frenzy and the rest of the Legacy crew minus Magneto are adjusting to their roles as the main staff/security guards for the Jean Grey Institute. They've already had to fight off a demon invasion, which in most jobs would have a pretty high turnover. But that's just another day at the office for the Jean Grey institute. In this arc, the Jean Grey Institute has to content with an overly motivated Exodus. In addition to being a mutant with a ridiculous amount of power, Exodus also had way too much free time on his hands. In that time he determined that the mutant race was rowing downstream off a waterfall into an ocean of pure shit. The whole schism that divided the X-men has left the entire mutant race vulnerable and since he's got so much power to go along with his oversized balls, he's going to fix that. First, he tried forcing the Jean Grey Institute to make amends with Cyclops's team. He might as well have tried to get Pat Robertson and Richard Dawkins to get along. When that failed, he figured in his less than infinite wisdom that he was going to kill Cyclops. This forced Wolverine, Rogue, and the rest of the institute staff to chase him down. It only ended up with Exodus kicking their asses again. It looked to be a pretty bloody brawl. Then Hope Summers, the Lights, and some New Mutants showed up and ass fucked the circumstances to a new bloody level.
Now why is this a big fucking deal? Well if you read Schism (and you damn well ought to if you're going to call yourself an X-men fan) you'll know that one of the many things that Cyclops did to piss Wolverine off was to use young mutants in the field of battle. It's not quite as egregious as getting to bone Jean Grey, but it was right up there. The way he saw it, kids shouldn't be in battles against assholes like Exodus. And he has a valid point. Kids should be worrying about school, getting laid, and avoiding negative influences from guys like me. But in the first few pages of X-men Legacy #263, Hope Summers shows that being a mutant and being a kid sort of fucks up that which seems logical. Seeing as how Wolverine's side was getting their asses handed to them by Exodus, a little humility was in order from the fucking mutant messiah.
While Wolverine is pissed once again at Cyclops for reasons that don't involve him sticking it to Jean Grey, it doesn't stop the little mutant messiah that looks like Jean Grey from making a difference early on in the fight against Exodus. It's not clear if she taps a bit of that Phoenix power that's threatening to pit the Avengers against the X-men, but given the level of douche-baggery that Exodus has unleashed it's more than appropriate. But beyond the flare, there's still a debate going on between punches. Wolverine and even Rogue are trying to tell Hope and the kids to pull back, but neither Hope nor her comrades are willing to do so. Hope says that Cyclops and the Extinction team were busy with another extinction event and couldn't bother to be distracted by some wannabe unifier whose last name isn't Obama. So they're stuck working with kids. And while it clearly pisses Wolverine off in ways that only a whiskey shortage could come close to, he and the rest of the Legacy crew have to accept that.
Armed with Hope's messiah-level firepower, they finally start roughing Exodus up in a way that effectively silences him from more shitty preaching. If only Kirk Cameron was so easy to silence. The entire Legacy crew gets involved. Wolverine gets in some stabs. Rogue throws in a some Cannonball fueled body shots. Everyone else surround him like the kid in the playground with the most lunch money and the least amount of muscle mass. What follows is a bombardment of ass-kicking of many different varieties from many different angles. It's a glorious sight and immensely satisfying given how big a douche-bag Exodus has been over the course of the past few issues. The combined efforts of the Legacy crew and Hope's crew effectively shut his ass up like one of Vladamir Putin's political rivals.
As satisfying as this scene is, there is a problem with it. It's too damn short. Don't get me wrong, it has all the flash and flare you want in a big ass fight scene. The problem is that while it looks big, it doesn't feel big. What I mean by that is while characters like Hope, Rogue, and Wolverine all contribute, everyone else does pretty much nothing. Some don't even talk. I get that it's hard to squeeze everyone into the mix, but it really doesn't feel like over half of the characters involved really contributed. The scene could have been drawn out longer. It could have had a few more glorious details, but it didn't. It just ended too quickly before the awesome could be milked from every character. It's a tragedy almost on par with running out of ketchup at a Five Guys.
When the end comes in an all too quick manner, Exodus looks more fucked up than Tom Hanks at the end of Saving Private Ryan. Yet he's still smiling and for good reason. He essentially proved his point to Wolverine and the rest of the X-men. He demonstrated that they couldn't handle him while they were divided. They still needed to go whining to Cyclops's team like a little girl whose brother just rubbed boogers in her face. It's not your typical boasting from a bad guy that just got his ass kicked. Exodus technically won by losing here. He proved his point and the X-men don't really have much ground with which to debate him. It's one of those deeper moments that result from a battle that is so distinctive in X-men Legacy. Mike Carey did a damn good job with it time and again. Now Christos Gage has done his share.
After Exodus is done waving his dick in the face of his enemies, Pixie and the rest of the Utopia crew teleport him back to Utopia where he can be safely imprisoned in the brig. Yes, it's the same brig from which Sebastian Shaw escaped, but it's not like the Jean Grey Institute is big on keeping prisoners outside of a math class. But before they go, Rogue and Wolverine do make one last impassioned plea to the kids of Utopia that they don't have to be soldiers. They can be normal kids. But in another compelling exchange, they make clear that they're okay with being soldiers. They understand that they can't be normal and if it means they end up as fucked up as Wolverine or Rogue, they're okay with that. While Schism ended quite a while ago, the scars from that event still linger and this moment serves as a compelling reminder of just how deep this divide runs.
Even though the Legacy crew effectively beat Exodus, they return to the Jean Grey Institute with their heads hung low and their balls partially deflated. It's especially bad for Rogue because in the last issue she was the one that stayed behind to call Utopia for backup. Wolverine told her specifically not to do that for reasons that were completely vindicated when kids showed up to save their asses. Whether it's because he's exceedingly pissed or just bitter about having to be saved by a bunch of kids, Wolverine effectively demotes Rogue on the spot. If he can't trust her to not go whining to Cyclops's side, then he can't trust her. It's the second time in recent years that Rogue has pissed on the trust given to her by her leaders. Even when she tries to do the right thing, the girl just can't win for losing.
If that weren't bad enough, her clam is still wet for Magneto. After being effectively dressed down in a way that doesn't make for good porno, Rogue mopes around a bit with Rachel. They have a brief chat about her, Magneto, and how she's not over her throbbing need to snorkel his chud. Rachel points out that she went to Utopia for backup with the hidden desire to see him again. She rightly points out how unhealthy and fucked up that is. She doesn't point out how unhealthy and fucked up it is to want to bang Magneto in the first place when she's got guys like Gambit around who want to also want to bang her. It essentially leaves the disgusting Rogue/Magneto plot exactly where it began with this arc, which is probably a good thing because the last thing this series needs is more scenes with Rogue shacking up with men four times her age.
While the victory is bittersweet, the rest of the students at the Jean Grey Institute emerge from lockdown to return to their semi-normal lives. Among them is blindfold, who was the first to sense Exodus at the beginning of this arc. It was her vision that set this brawl into motion and before the issue ends, we get another vision of just how fucked up everything still is. It serves as a reminder of sorts that while Exodus was defeated, Wolverine and his crew didn't win. They only proved Exodus right and Blindfold seems to agree with his sentiment that by not standing together, they're in for a world of shit. It may or may not be a prelude to Avengers vs. X-men, but it's hard to deny that if they had this much trouble with Exodus then they might as well start cooking their asses to serve as orderves for the Avengers when that conflict comes rolling around.
It's a pretty tense state of affairs for X-men Legacy crew. It's not enough that they were upstaged by a bunch of kids who in another reality were just learning to masturbate effectively and sneak into R-rated movies. They showed that the whole basis of the schism was not as solid as they once thought. The lines aren't as exact as they seemed. The younger mutants still had something to contribute and moreover, they needed to contribute. They proved Exodus right on some levels. By dividing the mutant race, they were all vulnerable as fuck. With Avengers vs. X-men on the horizon, that's not a nice state to be in. So in many ways this comic sort of acts as a warning to the other X-books. Their division may end up fucking them over in ways that'll leave them pretty vulnerable when the Phoenix Force comes knocking.
This issue sent a powerful message. It also had plenty of action and brawling to finish what the previous issue began. It was entertaining, but it fell flat in a few areas. The presence of Hope Summers, the Lights, and the New Mutants promised to be a major game-changer. But not much of it was realized. Hope Summers shined. Pixie shined as only a pink-haired elf-eared teenage girl could. But everyone else didn't do three quarters of a wet fart. The battle against Exodus was a spectacle that unfolded over the course of two issues. It didn't end with a whimper, but it left a bit too much potential on the table. While more dramatic elements like Rogue getting demoted and Blindfold's ominous vision helped add a few additional elements, in the end this issue just didn't feel as awesome as it could have been.
I still enjoyed this issue. Christos Gage has handled the many differing plots throughout X-men Legacy with skills that should make Mike Carey proud and relieved. That high level of quality that I mentioned earlier is still being met. X-men Legacy has it's own unique feel like Uncanny X-men and Wolverine and the X-men. That feel and tone was definitely flaunted in this issue in a way not unlike Jennifer Lopez flaunts her ass. It's a great book, but it leaves too much awesome on the table. It's too much JaMarcuss Russel and not enough Peyton Manning. But this comic still had nearly all the top tier elements of awesome that make it worthy of being a top tier book. With that in mind I give X-men Legacy #263 a 4.5 out of 5. You've got kids upstaging adults, religious nuts on a crusade, and Rogue's panties still getting wet over a man old enough to be her grandfather. It's either X-men Legacy or my last family reunion, but only one involves six kegs of booze. Nuff said!