“X-Men Legacy” #300 by Simon Spurrier, Mike Carey, Christos Gage, Tan Eng Huat, Steve Kurth and Rafa Sandoval is a self-contained short story, “ForgetMeNot.” Contrary to the expectations that may have been raised by the teasers or solicits, this isn’t three separate short stories by three writers who have worked on the series — it’s one stand-alone short story. It reveals one of the heretofore unseen effects of the death of Professor X, but it’s best described a sometimes-poetic fable about how to live with a power that results in a kind of self-erasure. It’s also about what it means to leave a legacy and how to live a life.
Marvel trying to have it both ways with its “creative” numbering, re-booting “X-Men Legacy” before it hit 300 issues and then putting out a #300 anyway. The story isn’t groundbreaking or innovative, but it is a daring choice in context. The writing team defies expectations by spotlighting two completely new, unknown characters instead of playing to the wishes of fans by using the existing huge X-Men roster and history. “X-Men Legacy” #300 features lots of cameo appearances and a tour through past events for longtime fans, but the story is extremely accessible for new readers, a rarity with a #300 issue.
The heart of the story is a Zen-like question: if no one remembers you or recognizes your efforts, are good deeds and one’s life still intrinsically worthwhile? “X-Men Legacy” #300 pays tribute to Professor X by showing what the man meant not just to his more visible, heralded and best-known students, but to others who were never in the public eye.
Without his last tether to being remembered, the main character has had to redefine what a legacy meant to him. He has a faith in principle, but yet he doesn’t put principles before people. The greatest subtlety in “X-Men Legacy” #300 is what Spurrier, Carey and Gage leave out. It only takes a tiniest bit of imagination for the reader to reflect on the vast scope for villainy inherent in such a power. If he was so inclined, theft, rape, murder and worse would be easy. The loneliness would be unbearble. Instead, he believes in doing the right thing or performing to the highest level possible to us just because even if no one is watching, those things are worth doing without extrinsic reward. Furthermore, the character comes off as selfless and noble without the stink of self-pity or self-righteousness, which is no minor feat.
While the writing team has collaborated successfully, the art does not look good. The styles clash and the anatomy is uneven. However, the flow of the story is not impeded or disrupted, so the art team deserves credit for their skill with transitions if not with aesthetics.
Parts of “X-Men Legacy” #300 are undeniably sentimental, cliched and predictable in plot. Other passages have a light touch, however, and the writing team is skilled enough that “ForgetMeNot” delivers on emotional impact. It’s a fable with a moral, and it’s difficult to pull off pathos in this kind of story, but “X-Men Legacy” #300 manages it in the moments when it illuminates the gratitude and humility of the main character. It’s worth the reader’s time, and the pleasing irony is that it’s strong enough to be memorable.