Perhaps it’s unsurprising, given the sheer number of threads in Carey’s X-Men run that he had to tie up, but the writer’s final bow has provided more of a whimper than a bang. The final issue is dedicated to a collection of loose ends, the largest of which is centered around the rescue of Ariel, a teleporting mutant who appeared to die during “Second Coming.”
There’s a sense here that Carey isn’t ending with a flourish, so much as he’s making sure his run doesn’t leave any questions for future writers to deal with. Considering that his book spent a lot of time fixing other writers’ continuity problems, it seems appropriate that his final arc would be dedicated to fixing his own. As well as bringing back Ariel, Carey also shuffles Korvus back into space with the Shi’ar pirates Carey created, creating a predictable but satisfyingly neat conclusion to that arc.
In terms of thematic resolution, there’s a nice scene with Cyclops and Rogue which harkens back to Carey’s earliest days on the title, although it does restate the book’s premise as “Rogue looking after the X-kids” even though those stories haven’t been told here for the better part of the year. Aside from a brief focus on Professor X, Rogue has been Carey’s central character, and her ending monologue can be seen as his final statement about who she is and how she’s changed under his stewardship.
Of course, we’re long past the point where we’re on tenterhooks to find out what Rogue’s decision with respect to the X-Men’s “schism” is, so it’s good that Carey doesn’t spend too much time on how and why, focusing more on what the effects of that decision are on the characters around her. Gambit and Magneto, in particular, get a look in, although while I’m not especially opposed to the pairing of her and Magneto, I probably could have done without seeing them in bed together.
The issue’s art comes from Khoi Pham, and it’s fair to say that his strengths largely lie outside this kind of material, which is heavily conversational and based on subtle interactions. Interestingly, his art has acquired an unusually flat and loose look. Whether it’s his own shift in style, or the result of a different inker/colourist is unclear, but it does give it an unusual and not entirely unpleasant look that hasn’t been evident in the past.
Of course, if you’ve been reading Carey’s run for any length of time, this is exactly the sort of story you’d expect, and perhaps his restraint should be applauded. Rather than throw himself a party (which, after such a long run, would be more than acceptable) he’s opted to make it as easy a transition for the characters as possible. For a book subtitled “Legacy,” it’s appropriate that in the end, Carey’s tenure has left an impressive one.