(w) Fabian Niciezia (a) Brett Booth (i) Adelso Corona (c) Guru-eFX
Are Jonathan Hickman’s X-Men and the other X-books not doing it for you? Do you want to be able to just read one X-Men title without crossovers? Do you wish the X-Men never left the 1990s? If the answer to any of those is “yes,” then X-Men Legends is the book for you. With nostalgia being such a bankable avenue, Marvel has delivered a creative team straight from the era of Hammer pants, and a story literally set in that era. And while the book is a reminder of some of that decade’s worst tendencies, the story itself is actually pretty decent.
For X-Men Legends’ debut issue, writer Fabian Niciezia’s story takes place right after 1994’s X-Men #39. That context is important, as many of the characters in that issue get starring roles here. There’s Erik the Red and Adam X, as well as the whole Summers Clan. With Erik having kidnapped their grandparents, Cyclops and Havok are tasked to bring him Adam X in exchange for their safe return. Cable shows up at one point to let people know he’s playing nice with the X-Men, and even Corsair makes a cameo. While the writing is notably better than the 1990s issue it is intended to follow, it still comes across extremely clunky and stilted, with a couple extra expositional boxes per page that throws off the pacing.
Brett Booth is unleashed here. His artwork has always possessed a great sense of motion and kinetic energy that leaps off the page. While he does have the tendency for bizarre character poses and questionable anatomical proportions, he seems to have found a way to make it work whereas his peers have faltered over the years. His artwork here is arguably the best it’s looked since his initial arc on The Flash back in 2013, thanks in large part to inker Adelso Corona and colorist Guru-eFX. Corona’s inks do what Booth’s past inkers have rarely done – allow the pencils to shine. There is not an overabundance of shading or thick inks, which help liven up the art. Guru-eFX’s coloring gives the book a natural, lived-in feel as opposed to the plasticky appearance of previous Booth efforts. While there are some moments where the layouts get a little too wonky, again throwing off the reader’s efforts, X-Men Legends #1 has a great look to it that captures the 1990’s spirit with some modern flourishes.
As far as nostalgia trips go, X-Men Legends is a decent experience. There is nothing here that pushes the boundaries of the medium, or the characters. However, as a breezy, enjoyable X-Men adventure, it does the trick. With that said, this book needs to deliver more for this to be a regular addition to anyone’s pull list.