REVIEW: X-Men Legacy #263

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

As the Exodus conflict comes to an end, Christos Gage cements the books new direction. There are a lot of elements here that work well and the whole book is fun, even when the emotional moments are ramped up.

Gage does an impressive feat of balancing action, melodrama and plot and in doing so the book yet again feels like a “classic” X-book. A familiar foe, internal team conflict and impressive visuals allow Legacy to stand out from the crowd. It may not be the wacky Wolverine and the X-Men or the clinical Uncanny X-Men, but it does something those books don’t. It brings a sense of familiarity, as if these stories are from a time gone by. It lives up to it’s name and much like Carey’s run on the book it is filled with X-History. But for all the sense of fun and nostalgia it still manages to stay connected with the rest of the franchise as the main conflict between Wolverine and Rogue stems from recent events.

But even with the bubbling tensions between the two, it is the X-kids that steal the show. It genuinely feels like the first time the kids have actually had a discussion with the adults about the reasons for staying on Utopia. It is a powerful moment as the kids throw out some home truths, as they recount the fact that 45 mutant children were killed in the school before it was blown up and counter Rogue’s naive viewpoint. It may not be Gage’s intention, but it would seem that he might actually support team Cyclops if the kid’s dialogue and general treatment of Wolverine is anything to go by. And that is why it’s so interesting; it feels like a different approach. No longer is Wolverine seen as the fun headmaster out to protect the kids, he is a stubborn and petty man concerned only with making sure Cyclops is not proved right. His reactions to Rogue are over the top but they actually work. This is a side of Wolverine that is utterly compelling, so often he is portrayed simply as a bad ass. It’s refreshing to see a different take.

The only real stumbling blocks for the issue are Rachel Grey and the lack of other main characters. Apart from Rogue, they don’t really get much to do other than fight. Gambit does have more to say here, which is a step up from recent issues, but the rest sort of become visuals rather than characters. But with Wolverine taking up such a large portion of the overall plot and the fantastic addition of Hope and the X-kids, it doesn’t damage the flow of the book. It is merely a minor annoyance. Rachel Grey just continues to be somewhat of a problem though as here scenes often seem forced. The Rogue/Rachel scene just doesn’t work, as there friendship isn’t believable. This is mainly due to the fact that Carey didn’t handle her sudden reappearance too well and that Rachel has never really been associated heavily with Rogue. The scene just seems off.

Unlike David Baldeon’s art which continues to shine. The cartoony style has really bonded with the script to create an impressive package. His Wolverine is great as he depicts him permanently chewing a wasp. This grumpy demeanor really does wonders for the script and actually makes Wolverine seem like a angry old man, which is quite fun. The fight with Exodus is once again kinetic, clean and well detailed. Each blow has weight and the splash page of the team about to attack is a striking image. With this issue Baldeon has proven that he can do over-the-top action and small character moments with the same deft skill. Rogue is emotive, which is a necessity for this book. The rest of the cast fluctuates in some places, but on the whole they are just as expressive. However the curse of the energy signature strikes again as they seem unnecessary in certain environments; the Rogue/Rachel scene for example.

But even though it has a few minor blips, the book on the whole is a great read. Its full of melodrama, action and even moral reasoning (if only slight). Gage has gone down an interesting path here as he continues to force a wedge between one time bosom-buddies Rogue and Wolverine. It isn’t what anyone would have expected from this book when it was announced to be on Wolverine’s side. It is this conflict that makes it fascinating and it is its colorful nostalgic tinge essence, which makes it fun.

WRITING: 4/5
ART: 4/5
OVERALL: 4/5

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