Rogue is dropping the gloves on the cover of “X-Men Legacy” #266 and the story inside is filled with a lot of posturing as the Avengers and staff (who just so happen to be X-Men) of the Jean Grey School for Higher Learning square off, circling one another, looking for the other’s weakness.
While some have complained that “X-Men Legacy” has seemed rudderless and the characters have been empty, I have found this series to be a fun mix of superheroics and administrative burden. This issue does a decent job of showing both of those aspects. Christos Gage crawls into Rogue’s head, sharing flashbacks from her first encounter with the Avengers for Rafa Sandoval to draw. Although only a handful of panels, the flashbacks from Sandoval are entertaining vignettes that reinterpret the adventure of “Avengers Annual” #10.
Gage also pulls back a bit, setting the environment around Rogue as uncertainty creeps in and tough decisions are made. The writer gives every one of the staff (which now includes Mimic) a chance to voice his or her opinion about the disagreement with the Avengers regarding the fate of Hope Summers. Around the flashbacks and throughout the discussion, Rogue clearly she has a lot on her mind, especially as she is positioned to be a leader of the staff in this issue in deed if not title.
As if pouting weren’t enough for Rogue, Gage raises the bar, albeit not as high as he could have, by bringing Falcon, She-Hulk and Moon Knight to the Jean Grey campus. Sent to ensure Hope isn’t coming to the Jean Grey School, the trio try to hold off scrapping with the X-staff and succeed in doing so — at least for a little bit. That confrontation brings out the confrontational paranoid side of Frenzy, which sparks a few incendiary comments as she sees the Avengers’ very presence to be a major offense.
Sandoval has a wide range of atmospheres and emotions to draw throughout this issue with tight shots, splash pages, far away scenes, flashbacks and confrontations all happening in the span of twenty pages. His figures tend to be more animated in their gestures, from stomping across campus to jutting a lower lip out. That liveliness keeps the book lighter and makes the characters more dramatic in their acting. Rachelle Rosenberg capably colors the issue, but uses some pastel shades in odd spots. Like Sandoval, however, Rosenberg is treated to a large array of scenes and characters to color, right down to making Rogue’s uniform a different enough shade of green from She-Hulk’s skin to make any intermingling those two do distinguishable.
Gage gets a little deeper into the faculty aspect of the school through the conversation in the teacher’s lounge. Sandoval’s drawing of the teacher’s lounge looks a great deal like a situation room, with little decor or creature comforts. Then again, this is the teacher’s lounge for a school where the teachers (save Kitty Pryde’s inexplicable belly shirt) remain in X-Men uniform. Again, the characters carry the scenes, which is perhaps part of the reason these other details stand out.
With Falcon and Redwing facing off with Kitty Pryde and Lockheed, I was hoping for some Pet Avengers magic to work through this issue, but it just didn’t happen. What did happen, though, was a good story exploring the effect Captain America and Cyclops fighting in Utopia has on the Jean Grey School for Higher Learning. The repercussions of the decisions made in this issue are certain to have a lasting effect on the outcome of “Avengers Vs. X-Men,” and quite possibly the entire Marvel Universe.