REVIEW: Age of X: Chapter 6 (New Mutants #24)

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Mike Carey’s Age of X crossover running through X-Men: Legacy and New Mutants wrapped up today. Most of the pieces of the X-Men’s world seem to have been put back where they belong after being warped into a dark reflection of the Marvel Universe. The action in the concluding chapter is straightforward, but there are some tense moments where it’s unclear if anyone can save the mutants from the brink of destruction in a world where they’ve been hunted nearly to extinction. The fallout from what these characters have been through promises to be interesting going forward, but the resolution we see here is a satisfying end to a great story.

Spoilers for the issue and series will follow.

Age of X: Chapter 6 features another Mico Suayan cover image that had its central figure blacked out in all promotional images leading up to its release. It was no secret by the time it shipped that Legion would be featured, but it was nice that Marvel tried to obscure this fact before the right time. The image itself is depicts a lot of action, but something about the figures and the faces is not appealing to me. Basilisk/Cyclops’ optic blast also looks very awkward. Thankfully, Legion is an exception as he is a little less stylized and truly appears to be in agony. Steve Kurth and Allen Martinez’s interiors are consistent with previous issues and this may be their strongest work of the series. Their pacing is outstanding and Kitty Pryde’s heroism in the fire was a high point for the issue visually. The final image of Legion holding Fortress X in the palm of his hand is also outstanding and perfectly encapsulates all that we’ve seen.

The action wraps up pretty much as expected with Legion defeating the part of his mind that has run amok. I understand any disappointment readers may come away with as there was a certain predictability that Legion was responsible. I’m guilty of that myself, but I know I’m bringing in expectations that aren’t fair. Age of X is a solid story in its own right and not just a rehash of what the character did in the Age of Apocalypse as some critics have claimed. Carey obviously has plans for Legion and this allows him to reintroduce him as a threat on his own terms and in different circumstances than we’ve seen before. It’s also worth noting that Legion created the Age of Apocalypse trying to help his father, while the Age of X was created as Xavier was trying to help his son. I’ll be interesting to see where future issues of X-Men: Legacy go with Legion missing at the conclusion of this story. Will we see a hunt for him next, a path to redemption, or both?

The Age of X, like all alternate reality stories, suffers from the difficulty of trying to create real consequences for the characters and their world. It’s very easy to say that none of what’s happened in the series mattered, but Carey actually attempts to address this point in the closing pages. Blindfold points out that the soldiers that died in the final battle were no less real just because they were products of Legion’s mind. She goes so far as to say that all of them could be figments of someone’s imagination and that wouldn’t make any of them feel less real. It’s a commentary on the nature of existence that works nicely into arguing the value of a story like Age of X. It’s also worth considering that this was also not a true alternate reality, but something that happened to the characters we read about every month. They will be impacted by what they’ve been through particularly in the case of Frenzy as we see her heart break when Emma Frost is reunited with Cyclops, and we know she’ll continue in Carey’s hands in the pages of X-Men: Legacy.

A number of comparisons were drawn between the Age of Apocalypse and Age of X from the outset given the title of the series and Legion’s involvement with a new history for the X-Men. Age of Apocalypse was a fun story and much larger in scope, but ultimately its events were only impacting new versions of the characters we know with the exception of Bishop. What ultimately made that story important to the Marvel Universe were the things we learned about the shared history of the two timelines and the fact that four refugees managed to escape. Each of those characters had some time in the spotlight, but only one managed to endure. Surprisingly, it’s the one who has a very visible counterpart in the Marvel Universe, Hank McCoy. Somehow writers have managed to keep the Dark Beast (who is currently appearing in the new X-Men series) in the mix even with the real Hank McCoy running around, while characters like X-Man (who was essentially Cable) and original characters like Holocaust and the Sugar Man were put on the shelf a long time ago. The Age of X has it’s refugees as well as we see Chamber and Revenant discussing that they don’t really fit in the world they’ve been returned to. The Marvel Universe’s Chamber has been changed dramatically in recent years and the Age of X version is a welcome return to his original design. Revenant’s true identity is a bit of a mystery and her connection to the Phoenix makes her particularly intriguing. It’s clearly stated that they’re now anomalies in the Marvel Universe and there will be others. Given the MMXI promotional material for the New Mutants and the tag line “we will get them no matter what” I wonder if the Age of X refugees will be targets along with the returning X-Man and Blink as seen in the ad.

On the topic of ads and promotional materials, a lot of characters were featured leading up to Age of X, but didn’t really do much in the story. The redesigns were spectacular in some cases, but at the same time it’s difficult to argue that they were little more than window dressing. As a reader, I’m torn when it comes to things like this since it’s hard to get behind them being there just because they look cool. With a cast as large as the X-Men, it would be impossible for everyone to get meaningful panel time, but it would have been nice to see more from some of them. There were also elements to the Age of X that were intriguing just by virtue of being mentioned but lacked any further explanation of what they meant. For example, Moonstar Cadre was a great name for the New Mutants squad and when the Storm Cadre was mentioned, I couldn’t help but want to know more about them. That’s a good thing for an alternate reality story in my opinion as it suggests a deeper backstory.

New Mutants #24 is a fitting conclusion to the Age of X and offers the proper amount of action and resolution. The entire series was paced nicely combining mystery, conflict, and character moments. Mike Carey and company have made another excellent contribution to the ever growing list of X-Men crossovers and alternate histories. It’s easily a 4 out of 5 for me and I’d highly recommend checking it out.

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 5

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