REVIEW: Age of X: Chapter 3 (X-Men: Legacy #246)

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Marvel’s Age of X hit the midway point this week with the release of X-Men: Legacy #246. The mystery of this strange new world deepens and we see some heavy hitters step into the foreground. The book is a solid 4 out of 5 and writer Mike Carey’s latest X-Men masterpiece is really commanding my attention.

Spoilers to follow.

The issue sports another great Lenil Yu cover featuring the Age of X versions of the New Mutants (Cypher, Magma, Karma, Dust, Moonstar and Eclipse/Sunspot). The team spends most of the issue hunting down Legacy (Rogue), who has learned that all is not what is seems in their world. While the suspense and action is great here, what struck me most about the book is how much I’m enjoying the small details that seem to reflect moments from X-Men history.

Here we see a desperate Rogue being aided by a powerless Wolverine that reminded me of their time in Genosha years ago (in Uncanny X-Men #235-238). We see Gambit being punished as a traitor by Magneto again reflecting events in the Marvel Universe proper (in Uncanny X-Men #350), and there’s even a hint that Rogue may be remembering regular continuity when they first meet. There’s a chance that this is unintentional, but given Carey’s expert use of the X-Men’s past in his stories I doubt it.

My favorite part of the issue is the cleverness of Rogue’s power borrowing from Madison Jeffries, Anole, and Domino culminating in seeing Rogue heal from an arrow wound after spending some time with Logan. His healing factor is reportedly gone forever, but if she was able to absorb some of it, it’s sure to make a return. Wolverine is not my favorite character by a long shot and the fact that I’m waiting for him to spring into action says a lot. This may be the best story I’ve read with him since the first few chapters of Mark Millar’s Old Man Logan (though I really didn’t like the way that wrapped up). All of this made for a great read for a long time X-Men fan.

Clay Mann and Jay Leisten’s interiors continue to impress me not only with their high quality and slick style, but with the sheer number of characters they manages to work into some panels. I think I even saw Tar Baby the Morlock in there at one point, so they’re really going deep into X-Men obscurity. Colorist Brian Reber also deserves some praise as his work adds a great deal to the mood of the book and the lighting effects on Gambit, Dazzler, Eclipse and Cypher’s power signatures look great.

The character redesigns are outstanding as well. There are more shirtless telekinetic males than I’d expect in a war zone, but Magneto’s redesign makes up for it. The white costume is awesome, particularly with the Spartanesque helmet. Cypher, Eclipse and even Karma’s cyborg leg also look great. The leg, along with Hellion’s missing hands, are probably the most telling details that the Age of X may be more of a twisted reflection of the Marvel Universe rather than a true alternate reality. The recent events that maimed those two characters during Second Coming just don’t make a lot of sense as coincidentally happening in another universe. This world seems more and more to be someone’s warped reinterpretation of the X-Men and my money is still on Legion.

I’m really enjoying not knowing any more about what’s going on than the characters in this story. Mike Carey made no secret of this being a mystery, but I suppose I didn’t really understand exactly what that would mean. The characters in Fortress X know that something isn’t right with their situation. It began with Rogue/Reaper/Legacy, but like an infection passed to her from Katherine Pryde, it has moved on to Magneto, Wolverine, and now Basilisk/Cyclops. It’s awesome and unexpected (to me at least) and I can’t wait to learn more.

Read more about this series at our Age of X hub.

Keep up with all of our Age of X reviews:
Age of X: Chapter 2 / Age of X: Chapter 4

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