The reveal in “X-Men Legacy” #247 of the truth behind the “Age of X” universe made this two-issue mini-series seem more superfluous and unnecessary than these add-on comics usually are. With the entire world merely a mental construct taking place in the minds of those who were on Utopia when a part of Legion’s psyche lashed out against Professor X and Dr. Nemesis, a series focusing on characters that weren’t on Utopia loses its appeal pretty quickly. It doesn’t help that this issue contains an odd change of heart for this alternate group of Avengers that doesn’t seem logical and also undermines the intelligence of the mutants we’re supposed to be rooting for.
At the end of the first issue, the team was directed to attack Fortress X with the mandate of killing all of the mutants. Here, that mission goes wrong quickly when these hardened killers, aside from Susan Richards, that have had few problems with killing mutants to date look into the eyes of some mutant children and decide that, no, wiping out all mutants would be wrong. It’s a moment that doesn’t work at all given what we know about these characters. Spider-Woman especially has been shown to be a cold, heartless killer; she was introduced as the superhuman operative who’s killed the most mutants, actually. Given the set-up of this group, the turn doesn’t come off as realistic or natural; Instead, it’s cheesy.
The turn results in a response from the U.S. military and that results in another head-scratching moment as we learn that the Force Warriors were inspired by the Invisible Woman. Apparently, it never occurred to any of the mutants with the powers to create force fields that maybe those would be an effective manner of protecting their newfound home. In trying to redeem these mutant-hunters, the issue offers up a couple of baffling moments, and nothing else in the issue stands out. It all plays out pretty much how you’d expect.
Koi Pham’s art seems miscast in this story. At the end of the issue, he discusses how crazy the comic is, but his art doesn’t convey that at all. The tone of the story is dark, while his art is much more bright and shiny. That’s not necessarily his fault since his work here isn’t substantially different from what I’ve seen from him in the past. His main problem, beyond failing to capture the tone that Simon Spurrier is going for, is his habit of drawing perfectly round heads that sit atop bodies like beach balls.
Like the first issue, this one contains a back-up story spotlighting another element of the “Age of X” world. This story shows Dazzler and some other mutants being hunted by Stephen Strange only for a swerve that shows that his disintegrating energy blasts actually teleport mutants to safety. There isn’t much to it beyond that twist and the fantastic Gabriel Hernandez Walta art. Walta drew the Basilisk story in “Age of X Alpha” and it’s great to see more of that art here. The expressive line work captures the darker, almost absurd, tone of this world.
Ultimately, “Age of X Universe” didn’t add much to the larger story and comes off like an extraneous project added on after the actual story was fully formed. Within that framework, some interesting things could have been done, but what happens here is a clichéd ‘change of conscience’ that doesn’t work really.