Friday, 9 February 2018

Comic Review - X-Men Legacy Vol 1: Prodigal

Legion is one of those characters that dropped off my own mental map at some point - obviously I remember "LeqionQuest", though now I think about it I mainly remember "The Age of Apocalypse" and not much of the catalyst story beyond the Legion killing Professor X in the past bit. I couldn't tell you what happened to Legion, a.k.a Charles Xavier's son David Haller, in the intervening years so just have to take the Marvel NOW book featuring him as I find it.

Thankfully writer Simon Spurrier has largely the same approach, basically taking David's long-established status as possibly the world's most powerful mutant in theory, if only he didn't have to deal with hundreds of alternate personalities. A fairly reasonable one now appears settled as the lead, with the trick being that he has to defeat another inside his mind to unlock a new power. Beyond this about the only other thing really carried on from previous books is the recent death of Charles in the AvX event, so really it's a decent uncluttered canvas to work from and I certainly didn't feel like I'd missed out on twenty years of crucial Legion development.

The approach taken by the book and its' lead character is a desire to become more proactive and solve threats to the mutant population before they become threats, rather than responding when the crisis kicks off like the X-Men do. It's a decent approach on paper that can bear considerable fruit if done right; the bar to me is the brief run of Warren Ellis & Steven Grant on X-Man, a similarly overpowered solo character with universe-disrupting potential. Their version lifted Nate Grey above the standard X-books to higher crises. The less satisfying way to do this is the rest of X-Man, where you had this apparent powerhouse slumming around doing basically nothing, acheiving nothing and trying to come up with excuses for this that didn't flag up that the big problem was readers didn't really like the character.

Unfortunately, and while its' early days, the latter seems to be the case here. David is actually quite a persuasive and charismatic lead and Spurrier largely has his narration down fine. The problems come when he frequently sneers at the X-Men both in his head and in person for their perceived failings; his case is made for him by Spurrier deliberately writing all the staff at the Jean Grey School as dumb and reactionary while in their own book they're dynamic and capable. That sort of wanting to have their cake and eat it is Marvel's fault admittedly but the pitfalls must have been obvious and it means a lot of the posturing rings hollow - especially when the book's using the X-Men title to sell despite not really featuring the X-Men much. 

The title is at its' best when it's actually in Legion's head as he tries to bring his multiple personalities under control. The visualisation of them all as superbeings reflecting their power isn't perhaps the most imaginative but it zips along and brings out the best in David, maintaining a good balance of unpredictability as to whether he will be able to bring any under control at any particular time without being either frustrating or a computer game style series of unlocked acheivements.

It's not an uninteresting book, with some decent ideas and an engaging lead, not to mention a potentially different look at the post-AvX status of the mutant species, and there's more than enough to warrant further reading. But there are serious dangers of brattishness developing in both the character and the writer.

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