It’s fitting that Carey’s final issue ultimately deals with Rogues choice between staying on Utopia or leaving for Westchester. It’s the end of a chapter in the character’s life. It is also the only thing that Carey manages to truly succeed with in this issue. Arguably the most important moments in the book are conversations Rogue has with Magneto and Cyclops. Apart from that, the rest of the book feels like filler even if it does tie up at least a few loose ends.
Carey does something unexpected with the Magneto/Rogue relationship. He makes it a long distance one. It makes perfect sense, but from all the promotional campaigns for this final arc you did get the sense that Rogue had to choose between her fellas. This is actually quite refreshing and cements something Carey has been trying to do since he got his hands on Rogue and Magneto. He has made their relationship quite believable and no matter how many Gambit fans scream “Rogue + Gambit 4eva,” it’s here to stay (until the next creative team get bored). With this decision Carey has actually made Rogue’s choice more than just which guy she fancies and in turn the subsequent reason is actually in keeping with Carey’s entire arc.
Rogue and Scott’s scene is the highlight of the book. Between that and the Magneto scene you remember why Carey has entertained us for all these years. It’s not an argument or an emotional goodbye; it’s a very reasonable and understandable choice if you take Carey’s entire run into account. It nice to see someone leave not because they think Scott has gone too far or that Wolverine is cooler. It’s almost touching to see Rogue thank him for allowing her to expand her horizons in her role as the caretaker for the young mutants. Of course, she doesn’t leave without giving Scott some advice, but that’s just Carey’s Rogue for you always. Between these two moments you can easily forgive the substandard plot that surrounds them.
It isn’t that the rest of the narrative is offensive or even bad. It’s just a bit bland. At the end of the day Carey does tie up a few loose ends that he created. Korvus is thrown away, which will probably please a few people, in a useful manner. This in turn deals with the Shi Ar and the space station that are just floating above Earth. It’s a quick and easy solution, which closes the book on an aspect of Carey’s run we would all like to forget. Hellion gets some time to come to terms with his previous actions. It’s nice to see the character and Carey does some solid work with him. Shame he has already blended into the background in Wolverine and The X-Men. Finally, Carey closes the book on Ariel. She’s saved from oblivion and everyone can move on with their lives.
Who knew anyone actually cared if Ariel survived “Second Coming?” And that is the major problem with this arc. Although Carey does put an end to some of his (and others) storylines, they aren’t very compelling. It took this writer a while to remember who the hell Ariel was. The book wastes time on characters like Korvus or scenes around tables discussing how to save Ariel. It doesn’t really dwell upon some of the core group that has populated the book for a while. What of Frenzy, Legion or Xavier? Carey may have finished their stories (however convenient the endings were), but is it too much to ask for a look in on them, too?
On a side note it maybe time for someone else to write Rogue as every time a crisis happens Carey has to make sure that only she can solve it. Even in this issue she refuses the help of Dr. Nemesis, just so she can do it. Understandably it’s also so she can get closure, but it’ll just make you roll your eyes.
Another failing aspect of the book is the artwork. Khoi Pham is, for want of a better word, a messy artist. His line work is sketchy at best and although he does manage to nail some of the character moments, most fall flat and lifeless. The giant flaming Ariel image is a striking one and that is the only real high point here. Despite the lack of action present in the script, Pham doesn’t seem to take a lot of time worrying about body proportions. (And on page 6 there is something for the continuity police, as Rogue seems to be wearing a mini skirt as Antonia Fabela forgets that she wears green trousers.) It all just reinforces the sloppy work on display here, which is a shame.
This book isn’t going to go down in history as Carey’s final moment of triumph. However well-rounded the key scenes are in this issue, they accompany a lackluster finale. In the end, Carey will be remembered for his whole run, a long serving arc that has thrown up interesting ideas, great character moments and given genuine depth to bottom tier X-Men. It does feel like his time as come, but as he moves off the title he can be safe in the knowledge that he has had a great impact on the legacy of the X-Men.