Although Christos Gage has recently been writing one of Marvel’s most unfairly overlooked team books over in “Avengers Academy”, “X-Men Legacy” #262 definitely leaves us with the impression he’s still finding his feet with his cast.
The issue sees Wolverine and the rest of the Jean Grey School’s staff attempting to stop Exodus from reaching Utopia and killing Cyclops, a course of action they accidentally convinced him was a good idea in the previous issue. Of course, rather than tell Cyclops what’s happened (which Wolverine claims would prove Cyclops right) the X-Men plan to stop him before he reaches the island.
In theory, it’s a decent enough plot. In practice, it relies slightly too heavily on Wolverine being stubborn to the point where he seems unreasonable. It makes sense in a way, because Rogue is the notional star of this title and needs to come off looking good but the relationship between the characters feels like it needed a little more care — particularly when Rogue starts berating Wolverine for only just now taking an interest in the kids or when Wolverine accuses Rogue of “running to her boyfriend” given the aid of Magneto, Exodus’ former master, could be an obvious advantage in the situation.
The high point of the issue is the fight scene, which is inventive and interesting and luckily occupies a fair number of pages such that the issue as a whole is quite enjoyable. However, it’s impossible to ignore the bad characterization, the weak, exposition-heavy opening and the problem of small details like Beast’s slightly off speech patterns. It’s clear Gage knows how to use every character because the sub-plots are kept on the boil and the fight uses everyone to good effect but his work here is definitely of variable quality overall.
Baldeon’s art, at least, is enjoyable, if conventional. Oback’s colouring certainly helps, giving the book a bright sheen in keeping with the traditional superhero feel it’s aiming for. On that level, there are no complaints at all. It’s clear and bright, lacks any major flaws and shows occasional moments of genius. “X-Men Legacy” is a series with a variable artistic pedigree but the current team is definitely one of the better ones.
While the results aren’t entirely great, it’s likely Gage’s run will improve when he gets used to the characters. Still, it’s hard to deny a slow start, particularly after Carey’s years of excellence. There are hints here of the greatness present in Gage’s “Avengers Academy” but he has a little more work to do until his X-Men can properly shine. Let’s hope it normalizes soon.