REVIEW: X-Men Legacy #261

X-Men Legacy #261

Written by CHRISTOS GAGE
Art by DAVID BALDEON & JORDI TARRAGONA
Colors by SONIA OBACK / Letters by VC’s CORY PETIT

One noticeable thing that has happened since X-Men Legacy moved into the Jean Grey School for Higher Learning is that there is a more positive and bright attitude to the book. After his solid Point One issue, Christos Gage continues to bring a lighter tone to Legacy. It still contains action and melodrama in spades, but there is just a happier vibe to the proceedings, which is reminiscent of the X-Men of yesteryear. Obviously this is probably due to the new creative team as well as the change of location. But after previous scribe Mike Carey’s run, it is a nice change of pace.

The opening few pages juggle Gambit/Frenzy and Rogue/Magneto melodrama. It’s quaint and that’s exactly why it works. It isn’t the first time the histrionics has taken center stage (Carey did it often enough) but it’s the presentation here that makes it seem fresh. Gage has a great grasp of dialogue making the Rachel/Rogue interaction seem like they’re close friends and Blindfold’s rejection all the more poignant.

This is his strength as a writer and he nails a few key scenes that elevate the script somewhat. The Kid Gladiator moment was in keeping with the playful nature of the book and elicits a little chuckle. There is a beautiful moment between Exodus and Frenzy as he peels back her thoughts to reveal the reason she choose the school. It’s a powerful scene as the strong willed Frenzy’s mind is nearly violated. These scenes serve the narrative well as they reinforce the books identity, deal with past events and foreshadow future hurdles.

The basic plot itself is interesting due to the simple premise. Exodus wants to unite the mutant race, so it can defend itself from external threats. It’s a solid motivation and continues to depict Exodus as a type of zealot. He has a point and that at least makes for a good villain in theory. The problem with him is that his powers seem limitless. Often the X-Men have overcome insurmountable odds, but Exodus just seems like too much. Obviously he has to be able to handle the team, but he seems to be a superpower Rolodex. The way he is handled is serviceable enough. It was nice to see that Exodus was more concerned with Hope’s safety than actually agreeing with Wolverine’s side of the conflict. It also leads to a cliffhanger that is injected with a little humor.

Artist David Baldeon really sells Exodus’ powerful presence. Not only does he seem regal in his floating poses, he seems like a force of nature as he unleashes his vast power on the team. However the panels are crowded by energy signatures, which just overwhelm the action. Add to the fact that Sonia Oback’s colors are really bright and they become the dominating factor and draw your eyes away from the pencil work.

Solid pencils manage to give the entire cast a range of expression. The faces are slightly cartoony in places but on the whole Baldeon’s character work sells the emotional beats of the script. The art team brings a vibrancy that compliments the already light tone and the actual fight has enough solid visuals so it never becomes dull. If there was an art team best suited to Gage’s take on Legacy, then this is it.

This is an entertaining issue on the whole and although the return of Exodus creates mixed feelings, he is handled well enough. The whole endeavor is tinged with a sense of nostalgia. Maybe it’s the overt melodrama or the school setting. Whatever it is, it helps define the book. Gage has a good grasp of his cast and even makes Exodus compelling. Teamed with the bright visuals of the art team, it all works like a well-oiled machine. If this quality keeps up, it definitely will be the top book of the X-Franchise.

WRITING: 4/5
ART: 3.5/5
OVERALL: 3.75/5

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