REVIEW: Age of X: Chapter 5 (X-Men: Legacy #247)

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Mike Carey’s wild ride through the Age of X is coming to a close at the end of the month, and Chapter Five (also known as X-Men: Legacy #247) was firing on all cylinders. We get a lot of answers, but it’s still unclear exactly how the mutants are going to set things right. At the end of this issue, Carey talks about his deliberate pacing of the series, and as far as I’m concerned he got it just right. Every issue has left me anxious to know more and this one is no exception. There’s a lot to like here, and these final issues have brought everything together to set the stage for a thrilling finale. So let’s get to it.

Spoilers for the issue and series will follow.

The most significant element of this issue is that we finally discover who and what is behind the altered state of reality in the Age of X. As expected, it is the son of Professor X: Legion. While I experienced a fleeting moment of disappointment that it wasn’t more of a surprise, I must admit, the method of revealing the details is a brilliant combination of action, dialogue and flashback. The wisdom Xavier displays in recalling the moment it all went wrong is gripping as he fully accepts that both he and Doctor Nemesis were equally wrong about how to help his son. The tensions between Xavier and Nemesis were fantastic and I truly hope we see more this in the future. The connection between Xavier, Legion and Moira MacTaggart are touched on here as well, but I couldn’t fully appreciate the relationship between Legion and Moira as I’ve not read much of the original New Mutants series. As the only deceased character to appear in the Age of X, she’s reveled to be a projection of Legion’s damaged psyche. I’m not sure if this internal version of Moira has appeared before, but she’s described as an interesting new form of “personality” within Legion’s mind. Apparently, she’s a type of psychic antibody formed in response to Nemesis’ efforts to ablate Legion’s other personalities. She formed the Age of X as a “shelter” for him and the X-Men, and her unique nature is quite intriguing.

An interesting aspect of the revelation of Legion’s involvement in creating this altered reality is the greater implication for the entire Marvel Universe (particularly in light of the events of the Age of X Universe title). It appears that his subconscious act of self defense affected every character in the MU, and regardless of what each character may remember when this is all said and done, they may not be very happy about it. This essentially makes Legion a Scarlet Witch-level threat as she warped reality in a similar way during House of M, and as we’ve seen, there are plenty of characters (including Wolverine) who feel those types of threats must be eliminated.

In addition to the new role this may introduce for Legion, this issue also has some significant implications for the New Mutants. Former writer Zeb Wells indicated that Cyclops was looking to that team to find the next leader of the X-Men. Cannonball and Dani Moostar were clearly the leading candidates and each has their strengths and weaknesses. Here we see that Sam is almost too committed to following orders while Moonstar is really adapting to what’s in front of her. She goes so far as to challenge first Magneto and then the entire assembled Force Warriors to find justice. In my opinion, she’s absolutely shaping up to be the better candidate, which really took me by surprise.

This series has been a clever way for Carey to get his hands on the whole X-Men cast gathered on their island home of Utopia without being overly concerned with other titles. His characterization is spot on, and I really appreciate how he uses each of the major players. For example, Cyclops/Basilisk is still the problem solver, but he doesn’t magically solve the problems that are beyond him. He simply has a very natural part to play along with everyone else. The scene where he leads the assembled mutants to find answers about their situation looks and reads brilliantly and I’d love to see Carey have more opportunities to use the larger cast.

I like Mico Suayan and Marte Gracia’s cover this time around. It’s definitely a very memorable image that stands out among the covers for this crossover. I’m not crazy about Professor X being pictured in a suit or why exactly Magneto is in his red costume when most of the shattered images are Age of X character designs, but those are minor criticisms born simply from their inconsistencies with the interiors. Speaking of which, Clay Mann’s artwork is outstanding in this issue and probably his best on the series. The first few pages recap and show just about all the characters in Fortress X and it just looks beautiful. Along with inker Jay Leisten he brings great action and great composition to every page. I also need to point out that the coloring work of Brian Reber in the flashback is awesome.

As much as I’m enjoying Age of X, I have to admit seeing the ads for the MMXI: Year of the X-Men stories launching in May has me pretty excited for what’s coming next. This is particularly the case for the upcoming X-Men: Legacy #250. With Legion and Frenzy included in the promotional artwork, it’s clear that Carey will use the current story to drive new ones as he’s done throughout his time on X-Men. While Kieron Gillen has impressed me out of the gate with his Uncanny X-Men, Mike Carey’s run is the standard I’m holding everything to and it’s going to take a lot to meet or exceed it.

The X-Men will have to save themselves from their current plight and put the universe back in place before worrying about the future. The conclusion to Mike Carey’s brilliant Age of X crossover arrives in April 27th’s New Mutants #24.

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 4 / Age of X: Chapter 6

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