A strange thing happened with the latest issue of “X-Men Legacy.” For a story I was enthusiastic to read about, I found myself enjoying it much more in theory than in its actual execution. All the right pieces are in place, but it hasn’t quite come together as strongly as it should.
I appreciate that we’ve got some of the characters off in India, a place you don’t normally see in the Marvel Universe. It’s spotlighting some of the less-used characters from “New X-Men” (Anole, Loa, Indra), which is a good move. There are direct references to the five lights and Hope from over in “Uncanny X-Men” so the book isn’t operating in a vacuum. There’s even the return of previous X-Men villains.
So why isn’t this quite working on the level that it should be? Part of it is the perpetual feeling that we’re missing something along the way. Loa’s powers still aren’t explained (although based on this issue it involves moving through matter) and she and Anole are little more than a name attached to a face rather than an actual personality. The Indra arranged marriage storyline is starting to feel so obvious that it’s slightly painful, although I’m hoping that somehow or another we avoid the conclusion that everyone is seeing coming. And even the new character, Luz, is coming across as a bit of a cliche. Her flirting with Indra just comes out of the blue and moves so quickly it feels like we’re missing some pages.
The thing is, it’s not a bad story idea. All the basic plot strokes are in place, it’s just the finer edges that all need some adjusting. With a couple of minor changes here and there, “X-Men Legacy” would probably work a lot better this month. With all of the current rough edges, though, it doesn’t feel like a typical Mike Carey script.
Then again, once more Clay Mann’s pencils are clashing with Jay Leisten’s inks and coming out rough in their own right. They’re much less detailed and smooth than when Mann has worked with other inkers, and some parts are downright ugly, like that first panel of Rogue where she seems to have misplaced part of her eyes. There’s also some slight problems with the positioning of characters along the way. When Magneto takes off into the sky at the bottom of the first page, he actually looks like a piece of debris falling rather than someone flying; with all of the focus on Rogue (who isn’t saying anything, versus Magneto who actually has dialogue) it draws the reader’s eyes away from what we should be able to see clearly. The gravity is also completely out of whack on the big title splash page; Loa is sitting on a vertical surface, while Rogue appears to be simultaneously standing and sitting on the chest of a Sentinel. (I’m still not sure what happened to her other leg, either.)
At the end of the day, “X-Men Legacy” #239 feels like a rough draft that needed another polish before going live. Even some of the finer details have mistakes that could have used an editor, like Magneto’s name of “Erik Lehnsherr” being misspelled as “Eric Lensherr.” This issue is an unfortunate misstep by most parties involved. Let’s hope it stays an atypical end result and the book is back to normal next month.