Review: Age Of X – X-Men Legacy #245 And New Mutants #22 By Mike Carey

X-Men Legacy #245

Written by Mike Carey

Art by Clay Mann

New Mutants #22

Written by Mike Carey

Art by Steve Kurth

Age of X kicked off with an Alpha issue a few weeks back, but it didn’t do much to set the tone for how the actual issues would go off. It was a bunch of vignettes to set up individual characters, and it did a pretty good job with it. This week, however, we were treated to the first two proper chapters of Mike Carey’s Age of X and we are dropped right into the middle of a giant battle. Day 1000, and they haven’t gone a day without the constant fighting.

The majority of the first chapter is spent with a fight between the mutants and the human army, fought at Fortress X as the mutants have been on defense for the duration of the war. It seems like every day is a battle, one Magneto runs from the command center, one that an unknown person name X connects all the soldiers for, and one where Cannonball seems to be the field general. There are no X-Men, or X-Force, or even New Mutants. There are just mutants fighting for survival, and yes, there are casualties. Casualties bring us to our main point of view character for the series, Anna Marie Raven, known in this world as either Legacy or The Reaper, but better known to fans as Rogue. The name Legacy comes from the fact that all the mutants who die live on in her, as she absorbs them in their final moments to keep part of them alive. This is also where the name Cannonball has for her comes from, Reaper, as she delivers last rights to those about to die.

A breakout from the X-Brig by Katherine Pryde, an unstable mutant who has been detained, draws Legacy’s attention, particularly a camera full of blank pictures she took outside of the force wall that isolates and protects Fortress X from the outside world. Magneto wants her captured, sealed back in the brig, and completely shut off from anyone, and given the strength of his soldiers, this takes less than five minutes to achieve. We’re given a glimpse at the Brig, and we see mutants such as Emma Frost, the Stepford Cuckoo’s, Magik, Martha Johansson, and even Charles Xavier as prisoners. There’s also a 616 X-Man there as well, and any regular readers of X-Men Legacy would have seen it coming a mile away. New Mutants spends most of its time there, with Legacy’s breaking in to speak to the girl we know as Kitty, and the seeds of doubt being planted in her mind after meeting another prisoner.

Carey is crafting an interesting story here, and while he hasn’t spent much of his X-Men Legacy run crafting epic battles, choosing instead to focus on the more character driven stories, he manages to do both successfully here. The battle between the mutants and humans to open chapter one is incredibly well done, and he does a great job balancing the action with the story, helping to ease us in while dropping us right off the deep end. The end result is that the only thing truly lost on the reader are identities of characters here and there, Unuscione is a great example of this, as I had no idea that she was the mystery final Force Warrior until someone put it up on wiki. Despite moments like that, the book is oddly accessible for an alternate reality story. Characters like Scott Summers see full re-imaginings with their new origins, as the Basilisk is a far cry from the Cyclops we all know, a grim and tortured individual who seems to have a death wish and wanting to take as many with him as he can. At the same time, other characters like Gambit and Cannonball fall more in line with their mainstream counterparts, only with amped up personalities as both come across as far stronger leaders (which is saying something as Sam could easily be Scott’s second in command in the mainstream Marvel).

Legacy is definitely the star of this series, which comes as no surprise as Carey has been using her as his focus point since his second year on the title. She’s our point of view character, as well as providing some proof in that Age of X is really just an expanded upon X-Men Legacy story. Characters of focus in Legacy get a lot of face time in these first two chapters, though he does give some love to the New Mutants, mainly in the form of Cannonball who is really built up nicely. There are other notable characters as well, and relationships that have me interested. The marriage of Basilisk and Cargill is particularly interesting, as it comes across as one built on the pain of both, with things like Cargill wanting Scott to bathe her with his eyes, and given her invincibility, it can happen.

Wolverine is an interesting character to note in this. In the Alpha issue we saw a mission of his years ago where he injected himself with every sample of an X-gene cure at a lab in order to completely eliminate it, but we weren’t told what became of him. We find out here. A powerless Logan is now the bartender. I can’t say how much I love that, as it’s a real change of pace from pretty much any other take on him I’ve seen in a while. It also sets up a potential badass moment to come at a pivotal moment, most likely near the conclusion. No healing factor, he’s probably got one pop of the claws left in him.

Neither book is overly flashy in the art department, but it fits the tone of the story better. Both artists provide a nice sense of clarity and attention to detail, and I’m thankful that neither is over inked. The character designs are the best parts, to be completely honest. That’s my favorite part of any story like this, I love alternate character costumes. Screw variant covers, give me variant costumes! The designs are inspired, and I have to say, the redesigns are much cooler than, say, House of M’s were.

Two chapters in, and Carey is setting up a fight between Legacy and some people I’ll not spoil in an upcoming chapter, as she searches for…something. The origins of the Age of X are up in the air, but Carey has provided some nice hints so far. Subtle mentions like Basilisk noticing similar dogtags, a mainstream X-Men character cameo, a few characters who stick out like sore thumbs as not belonging, and the prisoners in the Brig stand out and bring me to question the true nature of this world. There are a lot of questions, and the promise of answers is going to bring me back for more. Mike Carey has earned my continued faith in his X-Men, and if you’ve been a fan of his X-Men Legacy, or just a good alternate reality story, you’ll enjoy this.

Overall?

8/10

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