Monday, May 12, 2008

X-Men: Legacy #211

This must be the sixth or seventh time that Professor X has miraculously avoided certain death. Hell, it's not even the first time he's been shot in the freaking head. Sure, sure, he's the brightest mutant mind in the galaxy, the most gifted telepath of all time, I get all that… but even a feline would've surely run out of lives by now.

OK, gripe session over. Yes, Xavier has once again survived an assassin's bullet. After taking a blast to the dome, the founder of the X-Men was revived and reconstructed by Exodus, but he's still missing big chunks of his memory. Removed from his students, Xavier now searches for a role to play in the tumultuous new mutant landscape.

This issue skips around. A lot. Mike Carey takes readers on a journey through the past, the present and even the hypothetical future, but never seems capable of reigning things in before they spiral back out of control. Xavier is potentially one of the Marvel Universe's most intriguing characters, but he's been through so many complicated, unfulfilling adventures and changes over the years that I don't think anyone really knows who he's supposed to be any more. Especially now that his memory's been fragmented, the Professor is an incomprehensible personality, unsure of who he is, where he's been or what he's doing… and that doesn't make for easy reading.

That isn't to say it's all bad. Carey has a few unique ideas, such as Xavier's use of telepathy to control of a flock of pigeons, but the writing focuses so resiliently on this empty quest to redefine the man's history that such concepts are cast aside almost before they've been executed. Armed with the right storyline, Mike Carey could make a great match for this series… but this isn't the right storyline, and it's costing him. Reading this issue was a chore, like the search for a needle in a haystack. Underneath it all, there are some great concepts and ideas, but they're so buried amongst the excess that it's questionable whether they're even worth uncovering.

Scot Eaton is your primary artist this month, with occasional relief from longtime X-Men support artist Brandon Peterson. Eaton's work is technically sound, if not particularly exciting. When the material gets a bit more complicated, as it does for a time at the issue's outset, Eaton's work becomes very tough to navigate. He's struggling with some complex themes, (primarily Charles's dreams and shattered memories) and he isn't winning the battle. This stuff is impossible to read and even tougher to decipher. When Peterson takes over during specific flashbacks, the book's identity becomes much more clear – he manages to work a little more emotion and appeal into the same kind of scenes that gave Eaton fits. Peterson's work is clearly several steps above his counterpart, but he's never trusted with more than a page or two at a time, and even that is just conversation, not action. Why give the dull scenes to the good artist and the more exciting scenes to the bad one...?

I can't recommend you give this a second glance. The writing is plodding and dull, and the artwork generally follows suit. If you're a long-time reader, this issue accomplishes exactly nothing, because it's mostly spent treading over old territory, and if you're a new reader you'll be immediately turned away by the complexity of those age-old stories. Skip it no matter what your experience with the mutant squad may be. It's just not worth the struggle.

On a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 is poor and 10 is amazing...
Overall Score: 2

No comments: