"Walkthrough" (part 1)
Plot: The past versus the future.
Comments: At the end of "Messiah compleX" the book X-Men was renamed X-Men: Legacy. I wasn't sure why, exactly. The line-up that Carey had worked with for almost 20 issues was shattered. The whole X-universe was going through one of its periodic shake-ups and Uncanny X-Men and X-Force was getting the lion's share of the hype and attention. X-Men: Legacy seemed almost like an afterthought. This impression was only enhanced by the big doings of the other X-books: moving to San Fran, X-Force's counter crusade, Cyclops getting seriously pro-active. Meanwhile Legacy had Xavier wandering around with brain damage. It seemed as if Carey was handed the leftovers and told to do whatever he could with 'em because it wasn't that big a deal anyway. The impression I got was that X-Men: Legacy was the red headed stepchild of the X-books. Maybe it was the new sub name -- Legacy.
Since then the impressions I've gotten from this book are:
- Mike Carey can do more with a few leftovers than most writers can with the whole buffet.
- Hype doesn't trump good solid storytelling.
- Legacy has a lot more significance to what this book is about than originally thought.
Xavier's wanderings have brought him into conflict with himself, Exodus, Magneto, and Mr. Sinister (sorta). Now "conflict" seems the only way to describe Xavier's meeting with Cyclops on the outskirts of the X-Men's new San Fran base. A continual thread through Legacy has been the de-construction of Xavier; over the last few years his saintly veneer has been torn apart, but Carey ain't dancing around the issue. Old Chuck has come across as a downright bastard in most of this book, a fact that is pretty distressing to post-bullet-in-the-head Xavier. It doesn't keep him from pulling the same crap again, though. Cyclops leaves the new base to scout the surrounding area and come face to face with Xavier in the middle of the forest. Xavier has been expecting him. Cyclops figures that Xavier has been manipulating him to make the meeting happen. Cyclops is right. When he tries to leave in disgust, Xavier uses his mental abilities to keep him there. Xavier claims it's for good reason but his arrogance is obvious. Mike Carey is capable of a quite a lot: smart dialogue, making high-concept plots easily understandable, turning little details into big stories. He has another talent that almost slips by unnoticed because it is subtle and spread out across multiple stories: knowing what makes a character tick. The sparks (verbal and physical) fly between Xavier and Cyclops showing just how far Cyclops has come and how Xavier has stayed in the exact same place. It wasn't till this confrontation that I have actually bought into Cyclops' pro-active agenda (I thought he was a Skrull). Cyclops is finding his own way and Xavier's dream isn't the answer. "Sinister, Magneto, Apocalypse, idealists, every one. You can't buy yourself off this by saying you meant well," Cyclops explains. It seems that the student has surpassed the teacher.
The B-story follows Rogue in an old X-base in Australia. She's also dealing with her past but as a way of mastering her future. This places her neatly in between Xavier and Cyclops thematically. In case you didn't get it, Rogue chats with the only other voice in her head at the moment, her adopted mother Mystique.
There are also a few pages with the Hellfire Club but that mostly serves to tease an upcoming story line. It's a relief to see Shaw put a shirt on at last.
Final Word: Carey's writing is consistently at a level that most scribes in this medium could only hope for. X-Men: Legacy has been sharp, tightly plotted, well read, and exciting. The bigger themes have had time to build momentum and seem to be reaching an exploding point with the Cyclops/Xavier confrontation. Legacy means "A gift given to someone after death." Xavier has had his death; now he's trying to understand the gift he's left to the X-Men. The new title seems fitting after all.
"Who is Crazy Mary?"
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