X-Men Legacy #256

In this issue of "X-Men Legacy," our heroes plunge through space on a massive station headed towards a collapsing sun while also trying to break up a battle between races and trying to de-mind control the heroes they came to rescue. In other words, these people are busy.

Mike Carey continues his space epic with a cast of characters that I continue to find odd but compelling -- Rogue, Magneto, Gambit, and Frenzy -- although I suppose it makes sense for Frenzy to be following Magneto if she's going to follow anyone. This means we end up with a love triangle and a fourth wheel who is trying to figure out where she fits. And it all works surprisingly well together, especially how Carey writes Frenzy with a no nonsense sauciness that is quickly growing on me. That attitude offsets the more serious straight roles that the others seem to be taking on. Frenzy's personality is actually strikingly similar to Emma Frost in ways, which perhaps says even more about Cyclops than most writers that write for the character regularly get to say.

As always, one of Carey's strengths is in his ability to use Rogue to the best of her abilities. Carey's Rogue is a smart character that well understands her powers and how best to use them strategically in any situation. Under Carey's pen Rogue has become an amazing character that no longer flies around and punches things -- although I do sometimes miss that Rogue, too -- and instead thinks through every strategy in order to come up with the most creative and effective of solutions. Rogue has had a great run under Carey's supervision and I hope whoever succeeds him can do half as well with the character.

The art, unfortunately, disappoints. While there are strong moments in Steve Kurth's work, on the whole it is far too sketchy and inconsistent to deliver the epic battles and emotional nuance that Carey's script calls for. The small emotional moments are lost;dww any romantic tension between Rogue, Magneto, and Gambit is muddled and so is all the complicated subtlety of Magneto and Lorna's relationship. One could forgive the missing emotional beats perhaps if the story managed to deliver at least on a physical and epically heroic level, but it doesn't manage that either. This is a comic book with two races at war with one another, joined by superheroes and battling ferociously as their space station (the size and population of an entire planet) hurtles toward a collapsing sun! The stakes could literally not be higher, and yet you feel none of that intensity, none of that significance, and the storytelling is not as clear as it should be either. Things feel rushed and almost unfinished in places leading to confusion, especially in the battle scenes and most particularly when telling a flashback of how our bad guy came to be said bad guy.

However, the blame cannot be laid entirely at Kurth's feet, because a quick look at the credits shows that he had three inkers and two colorists, which probably actually absolves Kurth in part. Perhaps the "strong moments" I referenced are a stronger inker and colorist, and had that been consistent the art on the book overall would have worked? It's impossible to know. But a book like this with such an artistic misfire should be a cautionary tale of why this many hands on a book is always a bad idea. Too many cooks in the kitchen and no matter the talent or intention and you tend to get well...something unappetizing.

Continued strong character work and epic battles from Carey keeps this issue from going too far off course, but sloppy rushed feeling work from the art team keeps anything from working as well as it should. One would hope that the art side of things can come together before Carey bids adieu to the series in a few issues. I'd hate to see Carey's exit after such a wonderful (and lengthy) run tarnished by mediocre art. He'll be much missed regardless.

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