Mike Carey’s run on "X-Men Legacy" has been impressive, if understated. He’s been with the book for some years now, and issues like this remind you why, despite a rather odd CV, he’s such a great choice for the book, appreciated by fans of X-Men continuity minutiae and obscure characters alike.
This issue makes the most of the book’s current direction, showing the X-Men and Utopia exclusively from Rogue’s perspective. I’ve always been a big fan of the character, but found her solo adventures utterly unremarkable -- this format, where she’s surrounded by her friends and history -- makes far greater sense.
Although effectively a “one-shot” issue in which Rogue gets to “look after” the Cuckoo’s telepathy for a short spell while they look for the escaped Phoenix Force, the issue is also sandwiched between two X-Men event threads, and that makes it essentially the kind of “down time” story that used to be the X-Men’s stock and trade, back in the 90s. Carey uses the filter of Rogue’s not-entirely-under-control telepathic powers to address many ongoing subplots, as well as examine Rogue’s romantic situation. Fans of Gambit will enjoy his appearance, as well as the acknowledgement of his and Rogue’s time together during the “X-Treme X-Men” era. One of the best things about Carey’s work is that it doesn’t shy away from reconciling the more checkered parts of continuity with the more popular bits.
As well as Rogue, there are some effective moments in the spotlight for some of the Young New X-Mutants, or however they’re labelling themselves these days. Rockslide gets pushed into a little philosophical exploration of his powers, while Indra, in trouble with his own abilities, is talked into seeing things from a new psychological perspective -- and judging from the final page, not one that’s necessarily for the better. These scenes may pay off in the future, or they might simply exist for their own sake. Either way, they’re interesting and original, which is all I want out of any comic, let alone my X-Men books.
Yanick Paquette takes over artistic duties for this issue. Although his Rogue is a little on the cheesecake side (or perhaps she’s just enjoying the new control of her abilities to show a bit more flesh than usual) his grasp of the character designs make everyone who appears look visually striking, with their emotional states well- represented. Paquette’s expert rendering of Utopia also goes a long way towards making the location feel real and three-dimensional -- an element that could all too easily be short-cutted by poorer artists.
"X-Men Legacy" has really hit its stride recently, and this issue demonstrates perfectly what that means. It might not be setting the charts alight, but it remains a consistently entertaining read worth the time of any X-Men fan.