Axel-In-Charge: New X-Men Editorial Era, Garth Ennis' Marvel Return
Welcome back to two of your favorite Comics Should be Good bloggers geeking out over alternate reality X-Men fun! “The Age of X Dialogues” where Chad Nevett and I discuss every issue of the “Age of X” storyline. We continue this week with New Mutants #23.
Chad Nevett: Legacy and Gambit are still alive. This fact, of course, came with an e-mail from you laughing at me. I bet you’re pretty pleased right now, Kelly. Me, I’m just happy that this was a pretty good comic. I’ll admit right away that I didn’t enjoy it as much as X-Men Legacy #246, but didn’t think it was a giant step down either. A minor step down let’s say. A small one. What did you think?
Kelly Thompson: Legacy and Gambit 4-EVA! Yeah, sorry, I couldn’t help poking you with that one, so rarely do I get to give people a hard time. I kind of felt I had to jump on it.
Hey, wait, should we take a moment to say HEY EVERYONE! SPOILERS! Here, I’ll do it…
HEY EVERYONE! SPOILERS!
All jokes aside, I am pleased that Legacy and Gambit are alive. I kind of expected Legacy to live, but not necessarily Gambit, and the way they survive was more interesting than just “Oh hey look Magneto isn’t very good at being Magneto” which we all know is not true and would kind of be a cop-out. So this worked for me. Of course it doesn’t hurt that Legacy/Rogue is a character I love and never want dead. Gambit is a character I loved as a teenager, and desperately want to love again, but he continues to get written as a douche…he didn’t fare TOO well here, but better than usual. Apparently it’s pretty hard to overcome douchey-ness once ingrained in a character, which I’m sure some would argue was ingrained in him from inception.
The issue as a whole, I agree, it was a step down from X-Men Legacy #246, but not a significant one. The biggest issue to me actually was the art, which I found a little inconsistent, especially with character faces and expressions that didn’t quite feel right. And there were definitely some moments that should have had more emotional impact and instead felt a little dead to me. But the story is unfolding nicely.
CN: Steve Kurth is, as he himself basically admits, better on a book featuring a character like Iron Man. With people, he has a hard time not using some photo references and that creates some inconsistencies. I enjoy his art sometimes, but, on this issue, he didn’t wow me as much.
I think what bothered me most about this issue was what I like to call the “Bendis Follow-Up” to the cliffhanger at the end of the part three. X-Men Legacy #246 ended with Logan and Basilisk ready to kick some ass and bust this whole thing wide open and… they didn’t appear in this issue at all. It’s the same thing Bendis pulled during Secret Invasion where something happening at the end of an issue was pretty much a guarantee that it wouldn’t be followed up on until two issues later. It’s like that scene at the end of chapter three didn’t happen almost. Instead, it was just returning to everything else we saw in the lead-up to those final pages. Obviously, Carey will return to the characters, but it doesn’t feel right in this issue to gloss over that.
While we’re on things we didn’t like about the issue, how lame was the falling box sequence? That took a seemingly important moment and turned it into cheesy bad comedy for me. I can see what Carey and Kurth were going for it… but, wow, that was bad.
KT: Yeah, you’re not wrong about the whole Basilisk/Logan thing being ignored this issue being a bit of a bummer. I don’t think it bothered me as much as it did you, probably just because I really like the characters of Legacy and Gambit as lead characters and so am not as anxious to get away from them. But from a storytelling standpoint I agree that it wasn’t ideal. I think even a couple pages suggesting where they are and what they’re up to, might have helped things, although it’s possible that would have thrown the whole delicate balance off. Carey does a lot and reveals a lot in this issue and it’s hard to imagine how he could make it all work even more tightly in the pages allowed.
It sounds like the box reveal didn’t come off as badly to me as it did to you, but again, you’re not wrong. It didn’t quite work, it didn’t have the punch it needed, though I’m not quite sure why.
What made it so clearly not work for you? Because I’m trying to imagine what else they could have done…how else they could have handled it, and I’m not sure I have any other ideas. Do you think it was the art and the way it laid out, or the way it was written and plotted? What would have made the difference for you to keep it from falling into “cheesy bad comedy” as you say? It’s unfortunate it felt that way for you because it’s a pretty big moment…and to see that botched is a big misstep here I think. Again, it wasn’t ideal for me, but it didn’t fail me as badly I don’t think.
CN: I would have had Legacy react to the box, cut away to the other stuff, and then returned with the reveal. Lose the dropping of the box – or, at least, the falling of the box. Have her drop it, cut away, return for the reveal, I guess. That would have been less cheesy.
So, what did we like about this comic book periodical? I like Magneto being behind the whole thing with him sending Kitty out to obtain information after he realised that the plan of attacking Fortress X every day with no victories seemed utterly pointless. Even he realised that, by that point, the humans probably would have just set up some guards to make sure no one leaves and keep all of the mutants in their self-created prison. It was something that seemed pretty obvious from the get-go and I liked that Carey used that as the springboard for Magneto wondering if something was wrong.
The hints at what’s going on were intriguing. They answer questions while raising others. Xavier’s comments, in particular, seem to subvert the idea that Legion is behind everything despite other clues pointing in that direction. Carey is very adept at advancing the plot without giving away too much. I also love how the final page makes the title of Age of X Universe ten times better.
KT: I think I didn’t mind the dropping of the box in theory, but I think they showed it excessively I guess. Like there were three big panels over multiple pages that continued the dropping of the box…it was definitely too much.
YES! The Magneto reveal, even beyond Legacy and Gambit not being dead was THE BEST. It shows such a great understanding of how brilliant Magneto really is. Because OF COURSE he would realize that something is wrong with fighting the same battle every day, having pointless victories and then starting all over again. I also think Magneto is creative enough that he would start trying other tactics when the same thing wasn’t getting them anywhere, so him being not only in on it, but kind of the “the guy” that had figured it out and was trying to problem solve it by freeing Kitty etc., was fantastic. I love it when writers are smart enough to allow characters to be as smart as they need to be. It shows such a great understanding of the character and adds a nice dimension. Magneto is a character I tend to like being played like this – much more nuanced than just “oooooh evil!” or “oooooh good guy!”. Great stuff.
I agree that Carey is doing a brilliant job of answering questions while raising more. It keeps us interested, but gives me faith that the answers do actually exist. I feel like a lot of people are leaning toward Danger…and there are definitely some clues pointing that way, but also to Legion, but more to Moira almost, which would be interesting, though I’m not sure how it would work. But Moira being Legion’s “mother” which we of course know she isn’t, is strange to me and feels like maybe it’s supposed to be a pretty big and obvious clue…or maybe it’s a red herring, who knows. I guess that’s part of what’s great – that it’s got us all speculating and thinking about all of this. Yet I suspect, unless something goes horribly awry that Carey’s concept is going to be better than any of our speculation, so far he’s definitely delivered well beyond my expectations.
That final page totally has Age of X Universe as a title making more sense and I’m much more excited about it after that small reveal.
I think the only thing I kind of didn’t get, or I’m not sure works, although there are certainly ways for Carey to make it work, is that the Force Warriors, with the exception of Legion, seemed pretty against some of the bullshit going on. You’ve got Unuscione (which I always thought was Uniscone by the way) taking issue with Magneto’s command; Psylocke outright calling it murder; what’s his name unsure of the situation; Revenant lost and not sure who she is or where she is. And then all of a sudden at the end they seem like crazy converts, taking over everything. Now, it’s possible that they didn’t overhear any of the stuff between Magneto and the New Mutants and don’t know that Magneto is not still marching to the beat of X’s orders and that he didn’t kill Legacy and Gambit etc. But because of Legion’s scene with Moira it seems like they DO know and that they’re taking him down anyway, which doesn’t track very well with the feelings they just had a few pages ago. But maybe that’s supposed to point back to Legion being the big dog here…? But you’re right that some of the Xavier stuff did subvert that. I honestly don’t know, which is half the fun!
CN: Well, if we go by the theory that Legion is behind this, it could be that the ‘she’ Xavier referred to is one of Legion’s personalities. Maybe some small part of his mother perhaps? With Moira dead (she’s still dead, right?), it could be part of him longing to bring her back and creating a world where she’s proud of him. That would explain why the Force Warriors got in line behind him so easily. He could have limited manipulative skills over the world without realizing it. I don’t know.
KT: What about Proteus…? I mean the evidence is kinda massive for it being Proteus…Moira’s ACTUAL son, super powerful, including reality warping powers, ties to Xavier, and recent ties (via Carey no less) to Magneto, Rogue, and Blindfold AND he was at one point resurrected as a character called “Mutant X”…am I crazy here?
CN: Wait, who’s Legion’s mom? How many insane kids do Xavier and/or Moira have? I haven’t been reading lately, but do Proteus’s powers even work in a way that could lead to this sort of situation?
KT: Legion is Xavier and Gabrielle Haller’s son…right? She’s a holocaust survivor and an Israeli ambassador of some kind…also, not a mutant. Proteus is Moira and Joseph Mactaggert’s son. I think in regular 616 continuity or whatever Moira and Xavier each have one insane kid (Proteus and Legion respectively). One each is probably enough, but it’s kind of surprising there aren’t more running around actually…especially on Xavier’s end. I don’t REALLY know how Proteus’ powers work…all I know is “reality warping” is the phrase frequently used and so in an “alternate reality” story that seems like a pretty big coincidence. I know he also is energy based and has to possess people…maybe HE is possessing Moira? Or Legion? Or Danger…or…?
CN: Damn, I should know that stuff. Odd that Legion calls Moira ‘mother’ at times then. Unless, Legion and Proteus have merged into one mega-crazy mutant! Legeus! Protion! Something else totally lame!
And I’ve got nothing else to say about this issue. I am looking forward to Age of X Universe #1 next week, though. The Avengers, people! Way better than the X-Men.
KT: Haha. Legeus! Protion! Those are hilarious. Yeah, the whole Legion “mother” thing with Moira has got to be something…guess we’ll see.
I too am out of things to say. Except, Avengers? Better than X-Men? No way.
See you all next week!
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