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The Age of X Dialogues Part Four – New Mutants #23

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!

16 Comments

I’m thinking this is the precursor to Jean Grey’s re-introduction. Xavier talks about a “she” and the Phoenix disaster is Tue catalyst for all this, according to the Age of X mythology. But Proteus is a good guess, too, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he turned out to be involved.

Oh, and Gambit has totally always been a douche.

Sing the truth, Apodaca!

I know it’s out of left field, but I was thinking maybe Sat-Yr-9. She was involved with weird reality stuff in Excalibur. I have no idea where and when she showed up last, but Carey loves to pick up on weird old stuff. The most obvious is one of Legions personalities. Of course, that doesn’t explain Moira. Moira and Jean are the only dead characters who are suddenly there from what I can figure. From Jean’s dialog it’s clear that she’s really Jean/Phoenix pulled back from the White Hot Room prematurely.
That brings up another possibility. What if “she” is some variant of Madelyne Pryor? With Nate Grey back and appearing on an upcoming New Mutants cover it could be Carey hearkening back to the Ellis X-Man stuff.

@Apodaca: Yeah, the Phoenix/Jean thing in this issue definitely seemed like a big clue…I just can’t wrap my mind around it…although, the universe being trapped inside a box…wouldn’t that be a Phoenix/Shi’ar reference as well…wasn’t the M’Kran Crystal/The White Hot Room all about trying to hold universes inside it or some such? Or being the doorway to all realities…right? And as such it has ties to AoA as well…right?

@Chad: Haters gonna hate!

@Dalarsco: Maybe it was just because of the tone of Excalibur was always so light and funny…but I always had trouble taking Saturnyne seriously…but she was hella powerful, so could be…COULD BE ANYTHING!

I do think it’s a big clue that Moira and “Jean” are the only dead characters who are suddenly there…

Things seem too tightly plotted here for that to just be coincidence or an error.

My guess is that it’s Proteus possessing Legion, perhaps. Where did Proteus go when Magneto took him out of the equation on Muir Island during the Necrosha arc? And immediately before Age of X, we have Legion’s mind being organized like a file cabinet. Xavier was in his mind at the time, which would explain his coma in Age of X, but it also could be the psychic fallout of being in his mind during Proteus’ possession. It ended up effecting everyone. somehow, though, the psychic waves affected everyone. Was it enhanced by Danger, who was in Legion’s mind as well? Who was affected, though, by the psychic wave initiated by Rogue when in contact with Xavier? Or should I say who wasn’t affected? That might also give us a clue.

I think Proteus is the best guess since he was specifically mentioned in X-Men Legacy 244 (Blindfold is looking for a disturbance and Cyclops and Rogue think it might be Proteus. Legion makes a lot of sense too in light of 244. Xavier is working in Legion’s mind with Nemesis and the Cookoos presumably when the world changes. But I think you’re looking at . . . Cassandra Nova. She is an unseen entity (I think they moved her from Westchester), she could actually pull something like this off, she would make sure the telepaths were out of the picture, and I’ve always thought her consciousness was still hiding in Armor from Astonishing. And when Blindfold goes looking for the unseen force on Utopia it leads her to a giant octopus-thingy that has captured Armor. X is Armor being controlled by Cassie Nova.

Xavier could blame himself for never having taken the time to fix his own son’s mind.

And Proteus is currently locked in Morph from Exiles.

Proteus actually came back during one of the Necrosha side stories that happened in Legacy.

Zach said what I’ve been thinking, more or less. It is Cassandra Nova and Legion. She is the unidentified X, and perhaps has moved herself into the fragile mind of Legion. The Legion connection is a given, it ties in the titular reference to Age of Apocalypse, and some of his stranger personalities are strolling about the fortress coexistent with the mutants. Maybe all of Age of X is happening inside Legion’s mind. The war-torn reality of the situation feels very similar to the psychic plane Xavier and the New Mutants visited way back in Legion’s earliest New Mutants appearances. Nova, the opposite of Xavier, is playing off the autistic Legion’s wish fulfillment, letting him be the great, strapping hero of the mutant race, beloved by all, while she twists reality and sadistically torments mutant-kind.

And I think you are being a little unfair to Carey as a writer, once again, as was the case in the heavy handed critique of Age of X Alpha. For my money Carey is a caliber of writer a bit beyond casual dismissal. The box dropping maybe didn’t work as well as it could have visually (though I bet if Mann had drawn this issue it would have come across more successfully) but I thought it was meant to be poignant and metaphorical as well as dream-like, surrealistic, which is again rather comprehensible if this is all occurring within Legion’s mind, making it a literal dream. I trust that Carey is taking us someplace in a very controlled, very creative manner. Calling his work “Cheesy” or “Bad Comedy” seems disrespectful and as if you are missing the tone of this body of work.

I have to agree on the sequence with the box. It reminded me of an 80′s music video, with a hyper-dramatic focus on a mundane object whose meaningful context hadn’t been revealed yet. It was just not done well.

That said, I agree that Carey’s a good writer, which is why I dismissed the idea of Cassandra Nova being responsible for this. Whedon already brought her back for his book and it would seem repetitious to me to pull her out again this soon. I think he’s got something more unique in store for us.

And it’s not disrespectful to criticize art.

JJC speaks the truth about Proteus – and he really screwed with Blindfold, so I mean, Proteus is a pretty good guess at this moment.

What’s so excellent is that no one can still pin-point the idea of Age of X. I love it.

Of course it isn’t disrespectful to criticize art, it’s a necessary part of the process on the part of the viewer. The disrespect comes from the manner in which the critique is expressed, and in this case to me it came across as disrespectful and missing the point. Again, your problem with the dropping box seems to be in the visual representation, not the conceptualization. Whedon’s use of Nova was 7 years ago, hardly a villain being pulled out again soon. None of this bears any of Proteus’ hallmarks. He’s a body jumping parasite full of reality twisting rage. He’s not an architect, he’s an angry child knocking over a sand castle.

That said, I would love it if there’s something else going on than what I’m seeing. I’m probably wrong and merely speculating.

And there’s nothing wrong with criticizing art critics, that’s part of the process as well.

Anyone think that it might not be Proteus or Legion behind this awesome event?
You should read up on the conversation between Magneto-Legacy/Rogue-Gambit, especially what Rogue said, regarding a certain WITCH (in bolder fonts, as I recall, as I left my copy at home today). Plus, wasn’t the guy in the center of Fortress X seeming to move in subsonic speed (ala Pietro).

I thought this issue was a big let down from the last two. I agree Cyclops and Wolverine missing was part of the problem along with the box reveal being a bit over done but while everyone seems to love the Magneto reveal I hated it. Not the fact that he was smart enough to send Kitty out which makes perfect sense but that since he was the one that did why wasn’t he trying to talk to her long before now? More, just thinking something is wrong with the enemy’s tactics does not warrant all the secrecy of not telling Rogue about his concerns right then and there when she asks to talk to her after finding Kitty first. If Magneto wasn’t a complete douche in the previous two issues we wouldn’t have had Rogue practically killed for him to conveniently save her in this issue. So in other words the reveal sort of made all the mystery of the previous two issues irrelevant since Magneto could have prevented it all just by not being a complete control freak. (I knew Magneto saved them the minute it happened. One favorite killing another favorite when we keep getting told they are going to somehow come out closer after AoX wasn’t happening) Though given how Magneto treats her here and in the two previous issues I don’t know how we as the reader are suppose to get that they are close. As for Gambit being like a douche, it because Magneto starts it. First when Gambit rightly charges a card for protection given what has happened, Magneto put him down by implying being prepared is actually an attack and tell us how great and powerful he Magneto is. Then Magneto has to ask the man’s help while being completely underhanded with his compliment of his skills. If he can go around claiming how powerful he is then be a man and give credit to others for what that character is suppose to be great at instead of the writer making the other character make the claim back so they can look like a douche too. Gambit has to also be the one questioning Magneto’s actions with stupid questions instead of it being a discussion between adults so Magneto can tell us how brilliant he was while being so stupid as to not tell Rogue or Cannonball all this two issues ago to have avoided the mess two issues ago. I sadly thought this issue lost a lot of the momentum of the last two (which I loved) by having Magneto do things completely in contrast to his actions of the first two issues explained away by him keeping a secret that didn’t need to be kept and caused most of the fleeing and fighting of those issues unnecessarily.

This Age of X interview that went up on CBR yesterday is pretty juicy…especially when combined with the discussion here:

http://www.comicbookresources.com/?page=article&id=31609

There’s definite confirmation that it was Nemesis “frozen” and kind of “warped” in time in the ‘universe in a box room’, and a confirmation/reminder about what Xavier was doing prior to the event:

“In “Legacy” #244, we saw him arguing with Nemesis because he didn’t agree with the way Nemesis was treating Legion’s personality disorder. He seemed to feel Nemesis might be doing more harm than good. And certainly, he suggested that Nemesis was tampering with a system that he didn’t fully understand. That was the last time we saw him.”

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