Now that the "Uncanny X-Men" and "Dark Avengers" crossover is over, it's much clearer why "X-Men: Legacy" had to stall for two months, so that the new X-Men status quo could be set up. With that in mind, though, I'm pleased with Mike Carey's take on the title and its reason for existing. With the cancellations of first "New X-Men" and then "Young X-Men," a book focusing on the former students of the Xavier School has been missing, even as its characters have continued to wander in and out of different X-Books. Carey's the latest to take a stab at this basic concept, but wisely putting a lot of the focus on Rogue so that there's an anchor character to keep readers around.
Considering that up until recently, Rogue herself was a character who could never learn how to control her own powers, having her as a teacher is fairly amusing. It does make sense, though. She's certainly a character that's risen up the ranks over the years, and when Carey originally took over this title back in 2006 the first thing he did was place Rogue in the role of team leader. And now, with her powers under control, plus her experience as "being" so many different other people over the years, it's a logical choice that makes sense within the narrative of the story as well as a savvy marketing decision in the real world.
The "X-Men: Legacy" Annual is off to a good start; it re-establishes the characters and their new home on the former Asteroid M. From there, of course, things start to go downhill quickly when old "Generation X" villain Emplate resurfaces. Carey keeps the action moving at a nice clip, and it's fun to see him get to tackle some of the faces that Matt Fraction has brought into the fold over in "Uncanny X-Men." Carey also starts bringing less familiar faces to the forefront; presumably, some of these students will be regulars in "X-Men: Legacy," and Carey's already starting to flesh them out. This story is also a reminder that these characters are still young and inexperienced; things that members of the X-Men would know how to react to are still a surprise for the kids, and it feels natural that they're able to get blindsided in the situations that Carey places them into.
Daniel Acuna's art looks classy here, reminding me a lot of Matt Wagner's slightly simple yet still detailed art style. Acuna's colors fairly leap off the page here, but never in a way that feels obtrusive or over the top. He's got a real handle on facial expressions, too; when Madison Jeffries discovers that he and Danger are being watched, Madison's look of surprise and wariness is just fantastic. I'd forgotten what a treat it was to see Acuna draw a comic.
There's also a back-up story by Carey and Mirco Pierfederici, wrapping up a loose end from the crossover as well as bringing Gambit back into the foreground as well. It's nice to see that Carey hasn't forgotten about the stories that came before him on the title, picking up a loose end from Peter Milligan's issues and running with it. The secondary characters in this issue are a little too exposition-spouting for my tastes, but it's also a short enough story that the annoyance will be quickly gone.
My one big complaint with "X-Men: Legacy" Annual #1, though, is that that it's a "to be continued" story. One thing I liked about most Annuals (before they all turned into big company-wide crossovers) was that you got a double-sized, all-in-one story. When I turned the page and discovered that it still wasn't over, well, I couldn't help but be disappointed. Still, that's a good sign that Carey and Acuna did their job well enough that I wanted more. It's a fun new direction for the series, and one that I can see succeeding both creatively and financially.