“X-Men: Legacy” feels like it’s going to be a polarizing book. After years of stories written for almost entirely self-contained, trade paperback releases, “X-Men: Legacy” has come along and positively revels in the nuanced nature of the X-Men’s rich, populated (dear lord, is it populated) history. Unfortunately, it does this by referencing visuals and scenes from comics of many years past, without explaining them in anything but passing. Some will love it, and some will probably hate it.
We’re far enough in now to assume that this might well turn out to be the book’s permanent gimmick, though I’d say give it one more issue to see whether the new storyline carries it on. In any case, if ever a title would’ve ever benefited from footnotes or annotations, this is it. I’m as hardcore an X-Men fan as they come and even I struggled to remember what some of the references were. The more casual reader has no chance. Perhaps it doesn’t bother them, but when I see sequences of disconnected references to stories from 10-plus years ago, my inaccessibility-sense starts tingling.
The thing is, Carey’s a fantastic writer who has written stories that reference the past less obtusely before, so presumably, this is an intentional approach. Either he’s writing the kind of no-compromises, continuity-heavy X-Book he always wanted to read, or it’s an intentional device to place the readers in Xavier’s shoes — after all, he doesn’t know what these images mean, so why should we need to? Perhaps future storylines will revisit them and give these earlier stories a little more weight.
Either way, I love it. The opening storyline was fairly light on action, and mostly featured Xavier being brought back to life by Exodus in a paper-thin plot that saw him unsuccessfully asked to lead the Acolytes, as if that would ever work. There’s also some slightly dubious logic where Exodus suggests to Xavier that the death of every mutant on Genosha, caused by a Sentinel, is on Xavier’s head because he didn’t kill Trask’s entire extended family, as if he knew that they would ever be able to pose a threat.
The ending epilogues do suggest that things are going to speed up in the future and involve some more interesting characters than Exodus and Karima. With the book’s premise nicely re-established, I’m looking forward to seeing how the title continues.
Art-wise, Eaton appears to have gotten well over his Picard-complex for Xavier, so let’s hope that it’s not a temporary thing. The regular guest art slot for the issue is filled by a fan-favorite whose art is nonetheless the frequent butt of industry jokes, Greg Land. He does turn in some good representations of some classic X-moments, and it certainly helps that his storytelling range isn’t stretched very far in composing those one-off images, though there’s at least one page where the way the image montage is put together makes it look like Banshee is a tiny little pixie. Ah well. Criticisms aside, another solid issue for “X-Men: Legacy”, which has emerged as perhaps the strongest post-Messiah Complex title.