Two issues in, "X-Men Legacy" still feels like it’s setting itself up. We know from the promo work that it’s going to be a Professor Xavier solo title, but so far it’s taken Xavier two issues to even wake up. Two entertaining issues, admittedly, but with no love for Exodus or the Acolytes, I find myself wishing the pace would quicken a little.
Carey’s respect and enthusiasm for the X-Men franchise has been a staple of his run on the title, and in the re-tooled format it now shines through every issue. Classic moments in X-History are revisited, and while the nerd in me can’t get enough, more recent arrivals to the franchise might struggle with visual nods to the climatic battle in Fatal Attractions. Without footnotes or an explanation, it does make me wonder exactly how much of "Legacy" #209’s audience will get the references to, for example, 1993’s classic "X-Men" #25, and the question must be asked �" how does it affect your reading of the story if you don’t? It’s a definite gamble, but luckily, not one that affects me.
Guest pencils for the so-called “mindscape” sequences come from Billy Tan. After the treat of John Romita Jr. last issue, it’s hard not to be a little disappointed �" not because Tan’s work is bad (despite his many detractors, he’s improving all the time) but because he’s been a frequent contributor to the X-books for some time now and I was hoping to see some more unusual artists tackle the characters.
The idea of regular guest pencillers is nonetheless an attractive one. Tan’s artwork holds up well alongside the series artist, Scott Eaton, who injects some definite attitude into the body language of occasionally faceless rent-an-Acolyte, Cargill, as she unsuccessfully attempts to take matters concerning Xavier into her own hands. If there’s any major criticism of the artwork, it’s that both pencillers are fairly similar, representing the current Marvel house-style to a large extent - that, and the fact that Eaton is still drawing Patrick Stewart, not Professor Xavier. I wouldn’t moan about that if it wasn’t genuinely distracting.
"X-Men Legacy" definitely feels like a book aimed at long-time fans of the franchise. It’s full of obscure characters and references, and this issue focuses heavily on the kind of philosophical sparring that real X-Fans will be familiar with. I’m definitely a fan of Carey’s more laid-back Magneto, who seems both rational and intelligent enough to genuinely be the foil for Xavier that he’s supposed to be. Is his new, fatalist Magneto a façade, or has he genuinely clammed down? I’m looking forward to finding out.
The cliffhanger promises an Exodus vs. Xavier psychic battle that has whet my appetite for the next issue �" Charles has hit rock bottom in the eyes of a lot of people over the last few years, so it’s nice to think that he’s going to get a chance to start clawing back some dignity. A Professor Xavier solo book could’ve been the worst idea ever, but somehow, Carey is managing to pull it off.