Review: X-Men Legacy #260.1

Hi, gang!  Surely you must have known when I promised a new post in “a couple of days,” that it meant over a week, right?  Of course you did!  Sorry, Sleepers.  I have been decidedly rubbish in several different ways this week.  I don’t just fall or trip up, but rather take spectacular dives off long cliffs.

The pile of catch-up reading continues to grow ever more, and I am slowly working on a couple of different pieces for your reading pleasure.  In between, there’s been much news about various things, some of it just god-awful, and some of it bad to the point of hilarity, and some of it outright awesome.  Great stuff to write about; even better stuff to use as fodder for chats at the comic shop.

Here’s a review.

 

X-Men Legacy #260.1X-Men Legacy #260.1
Written by Christos Gage
Illustrated by David Baldeon, Jordan Tarragona
Cover by Mark Brooks
Publisher:  Marvel Comics
Price:  $2.99

 

I’ve been dreading the coming of this issue for a while, as it marks the end of what was a remarkable and celebrated run by Mike Carey on this book.  I’ve expressed my love for Mr. Carey on several occasions here, and when his departure from this book was announced, my reaction was flat-out depression.  I also may or may not have acted like a child who lost her favorite toy (“But WHY?!  Why does this have to happen?!  Goodbye, favorite title!  I hate comics!”); waah, waah, waaaah, and so forth.

I know, I’m really building up my credibility here, aren’t I?  Take the above with a grain of salt.  (Sort of.)

Tantrum aside, when I learned that Christos Gage would be taking the reins of X-Men Legacy, I was actually quite … relieved.  Some of you may know Christos as a friend of the store and a Worcester native, but more importantly, he’s a very talented writer.  Christos is putting out some great work on Avengers Academy and Angel & Faith right now, but the only work of his I’ve read has been miscellaneous issues of Avengers Academy and a quick guest-stint he did on Amazing Spider-Man last year (which I loved).  I’ve since gone back to pick up the first AA trade, but the catch up process, as you know, can take a while for me.  Ultimately, the feelings of trepidation subsided and I started to look forward to Christos’ debut issue.

I’m happy to say I wasn’t let down.

Writing a team book, let alone an X-Men book, can be quite challenging, but Christos Gage makes it look easy.  He does very well in splitting panel time between team members and students, and does so in a manner that helps make the story flow as oppose to hinder it via too many scene transitions.

If you’ve ever attempted to learn how to drive a car that has a manual gearbox, you know that one of the harder things to get down is just getting the car moving out of first gear and shifting smoothly into second.  The first few tries, you’re likely to clunk around, stall it once or twice, and find your head bobbing against the headrest with every release of the clutch.  Reading a team book where a writer doesn’t transition well can be a similar experience–the story is thumpy, you’re starting and stopping, and the result is little to no flow.  But with this issue of X-Men Legacy, I’d read through to the final page without even realizing I’d taken in so much story so quickly.  Because it just kept going … until it didn’t.  And I like that.

One of the big things about Mike Carey’s run that endeared me to him was his development of Rogue as a character.  Anyone who has been following along knows that she has grown by leaps and bounds as a result of her role in Legacy, and a factor I feared the most in Carey’s departure was the idea of Rogue being relegated to the background once more.  Goodbye, leadership role.  Goodbye, panel time.  Goodbye, power control.  These were things I had waited decades as a reader to see for Rogue, and the potential threat of regression terrified me.

Happily—as in, GOOD GOD WHAT A RELIEF—this doesn’t seem to be the case.  At least, not yet.  What’s awesome here is that if no one told me that the writer had been replaced, in my glee reading this, I probably wouldn’t have noticed.  The changeover is relatively seamless; Gage plays off of Carey’s groundwork while shifting Rogue’s team to its new status at the Jean Grey School.  It’s great to watch this group interacting with the X-kids again, and Gage wraps it all up with a fun little surprise at the end of the issue—a surprise you could likely see coming, but still great to read nonetheless.

Before reading this issue, I checked out a couple of reviews online and was surprised to find a mixed, below-average reaction.  Among the chief complaints are the artwork, which I have to agree with—while not outright bad in skill, it’s a little too … “cartoony” and … well, straight-up ugly for my taste.  I miss Clay Mann on this title and am hoping the current artist isn’t on for the long haul.  An X-Men book like this should only be saddled with a steady, consistent artist, and I’m learning that very little of that exists at Marvel (I’m looking at you, Captain America/Wolverine & X-Men/X-23/Secret Avengers/Thor/you-name-it).

Aside from butt ugly art, I’m also hearing that Rogue’s casual borrowing of other’s powers in this issue is uncharacteristic of her.  I have to argue otherwise, as Mike Carey spent a long time crafting the idea of her becoming comfortable with the use of her powers, and I’m loving the more free-spirited vibe Christos gives her here.  Especially in the context of the training scene, where she’s preparing the students for an element of surprise, I don’t see it as disrespectful but rather fairly inventive.  Just my take.

That said, this is probably one of the longer reviews I’ve done in a while about a comic I’m pleased with, so that should tell you something about my confidence in this title moving forward.  I’m psyched to have Christos on board, and happily, still looking forward to X-Men Legacy.

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