Mike Carey’s run on “X-Men Legacy” has often concerned itself with tying up the loose ends and wayward plot threads that have been dangling, in some cases for years, without resolution. It’s fitting, then, that his final arc on the title should tie up one of the most prominent and vocally opposed threads of all: the prolonged absence and estrangement of Havok, Polaris, and Rachel Grey, who have been trapped in space-bound character limbo for some time.
It was clear from the get-go what the outcome of this arc was going to be, and in that sense there was little drama about the ending. However, Carey has done all he could to throw obstacles in the characters’ way, placing them in immediate danger and forcing Rogue to relinquish the abilities that got them there in the first place. As a sci-fi story, the idea of trapping your cast on a space station plunging into a star is a strong one, and while it’s not quite part of the X-Men’s core mandate, it certainly fits in with the team’s space-faring Claremontian tradition.
Of course, in throwing in so many obstacles and characters, Carey seemed to lose track of the time it was going to take to resolve them all. After several issues of build-up in which the stakes continually worsened, this conclusion seems to pull several last-minute solutions out at just the right time without wholly adequate set-up. It all falls into place a little too easily, while pushing the laws of physics past breaking point. For a book that spent a lot of time tying up dangling plots, it’s a little strange to see Carey leave one (assuming it’s not tied up next issue) in the form of a billion alien citizens left orbiting Earth.
Mostly, the problems are with the huge cast. Havok, despite being one of the characters the arc is based on, gets no substantial role. The Shi’ar pirates add a little tension, but mainly serve to push the focus away from the rest of the X-Men. The Friendless makes a good villain, but he’s one of only several threats. There’s simply too much going on for it to all work perfectly.
Kurth’s artwork is a mixed bag, working well on the science-fictional elements of the story — the aliens, machinery and exteriors — but his work on the mutant characters is a little less impressive, with some odd proportions and faces that sometimes look to be sliding off their owners, and the book’s backgrounds are dull and featureless despite some desperate attempts by the colorists to introduce some texture.
It’s a shame that Carey’s final arc should be relatively unimpressive, and it’s hard not to feel as though his Legion story would have made a more fitting conclusion. Carey’s run has been relatively free of duff notes, but this arc certainly contains a few. Hopefully, his next and final issue will offer the chance for him to leave on a high — one more typical of his usual quality.