There is good and there is evil. Right and wrong. Heroes and villains. And if we’re blessed with wisdom, then there are glimpses between the cracks of each where light streams through. We wait in silence for these times when sense can be made, when meaningless existence comes into focus, and our purpose presents itself. And if we have the strength to be honest, then what we find there, staring back at us, is our own reflection, bearing witness to the duality of life. And each one of us is capable of both the dark and the light, of good and evil, of either, of all. And destiny, while marching ever in our direction, can be rerouted by the choices we make. By the love we hold onto, and the promises we keep.
X-MEN LEGACY #10…
…is in stores today. And it is awesome.
Wherein, as well as the usual kaboomsplodo psychadelic time-scrying mind-altering epicness you’ve come to expect NAY DEMAND - you’ll find the convention-shattering story of What Happens When The Villain Doesn’t Punch Back.
This ep also features several big moments of X-lore continuity - gotta spot ‘em all - the unluckiest man alive, heroic nudity, quotes from “The Prisoner”, the greatest comicbook cover you’ll see this week, and the moment that the unthinkable occurs: MARVEL HERO vs RATIONAL SCIENCE! Thus:
Notes and director’s commentary along in the next few days.
X-MEN LEGACY #9: Director’s Commentary, Behind-The-Scenesery and Similar Whatnot
All righty. Usual obviousness applies: this is a comicsesque Director’s Commentary, which rather assumes you’ve read – or better yet are re-reading – the comic in question. Spoiler warnings, spoiler warnings, spoiler warnings.
Page 1 — Aaaaand we’re straight back into the David/Ruth thingy.
Fewer specific notes than usual, this ep – that’s the more spacious, ending-critical nature of the tale – though perhaps some interesting somethings, more generally, to say up front:
This is a pretty unconventional episode – even for Legacy. That’s true on a narrative-technical level, first of all. Consider: this ep marks the first time we spend almost no time inside the Qortex Complex – just the one panel on Page 1. Given that this book’s remit is to divide its time between David’s inner and outer struggles, that maybe seems a tad odd. But then, weirdly enough, you could argue this episode is even more “about” David’s inner-state than any previous issue – and certainly from the reviews/reactions I’ve seen so far nobody seems to’ve felt short changed by the lack of inner-brain weirdness. So what’s going on?
My theory, in writing this ish, was that we could cheat slightly… we could confer just a little bit of the privilege-of-perspective onto Ruth. So unlike previous episodes this one isn’t quite so obviously or continuously told from David’s POV (in fact the double-bluff twist only works if you don’t know everything that he knows). Hence – did you even notice? – no inner monologue for the first time.
That’s something we’ll be playing with in issues to come – the fact that David’s narration might not be the whole truth – but let’s not worry too much about that just now. What’s interesting here is that by coming slightly out of David’s head, and by spending a little bit of time seeing this story partly through Ruth’s eyes (or, um, her non-eyes), we get the chance to explore David’s inner condition through interrogation rather than by simply being told about it. These two adorable characters spend a fairly decent chunk of this episode talking about, hahaha, the health of David’s Feels, rather than us simply popping into his brain to see for ourselves. That’s supposed to be comics-narrative death, right? – show! don’t tell! So screams wanky conventional wisdom – but I happen to think it works like a charm just here.
The other weird thing about this episode – spoiler spoiler spoiler – is that by the end of the story we’ve discovered that 85% of everything is completely fabricated. Hypothetical, suppositional. That’s a reaaaally dangerous twist to play with. For every five stories with a “none of it was real!” twist, four of them leave audiences feeling short changed and cheated. The fifth one is The Usual Suspects.
But I risked it. My feeling is/was that the real deal with the story was about how these characters react – differently – to the possibility of badcrazyshit. Not the badcrazyshit itself.
Page 2 – Little bit of Watchmen love, there. Wasn’t sure we’d get away with that.
Page 3 – Gorgeous Tan page. Something weirdly perfect about milkshake on the moon.
Page 4 – You have no idea how long I spent looking at maps of the moon to find just the right place.
Also, I love how Tan’s drawn Aarkus in his human form. I think the script said something like “he moves like a Thunderbirds puppet: like a man unfamiliar with the sensation of gravity”. The guy nailed it.
Page 5 – And here we go: Mr Aarkus, better known to students of golden age comics as “The Vision”. That’s right, this creepy smoke-powered weirdo was the forerunner of the familiar red-and-green synthezoid Marvel character, whom he predates by 28 years, and whose creation he inspired. Aarkus has had a couple of outings since then, but nothing major. Given the fun I had with all those Golden Agers back in Episode 1, it felt like too good an opportunity to miss to winkle out another semi-familiar face.
Page 6 – Panel 1 on this page is another of those weird Chekov’s gun images that is a lot more important than it seems, like the “charity Lab out in San Fran” in episode 7, and the strangely-precise class lecture video in episode 8…
Page 7 – Descriptive text for panel 1 said something like: a family with three mutant kids – one of each gender.
And, yaaay, good ole’ Santi at the bottom there. I love it when a new character can be reused. To, um. To die. Painfully.
Srsly: don’t fear. This isn’t the last you’ve seen of Santi.
Page 9 – Love the body-language from the team at the bottom. Really cocksure. This won’t take a jiffy. Also love the little details, like how Chamber – having no intercostal airpressure and no need for oxygen – doesn’t need a pressurized spacesuit.
Pages 11/12 – There’s something shamefully enjoyable about getting the chance to kill-off all these beloved characters in one fell swoop. I mean, I’m aware that by this stage most of the readers are starting to realise – haaaaang on a minute, there’s no way all these guys are *really* dead, maybe not all is as it seems – so it’s surely not such a crime to take a morbid little thrill from (say) squashing Armor in a giant nutcracker, or having a smoke-monster suffocate Wolverine from the inside.
I feel kinda bad for killing Storm, I confess, but only because she got a raw deal last time she met David too. It’s also a bad career move on my part, since Legacy’s editor Daniel Ketchum is self-confessedly Straight For Storm. Sorry DK.
Pages 13/14 – the turn, and the explanation. Like I said, I’d be amazed if this particular twist actually surprised any readers – but… but… but I truly thought Spurrier had just killed-off the core-A-list team of the X-Men! This is an outrageous cheat! – and if they were shocked it’s their own fault for being so irredeemably gullible. No, this is one of those sneaky red-herring twists, where you think that’s all there is to is and then, and then… what happens next…?
By the way, that little interchange between pages 14 and 15, where Ruth bats-away David’s hand – I don’t want to see any more! – is a really beautiful moment. Back near the start David asked her if she trusts him. She said yes, but even then it wasn’t very convincing. But by now?
Oh, David. You fuckin’ blew it, kid. You just don’t know it yet.
Page 16 – and here’s where the crux of this episode lies. I’ve already cheated once, right? I’ve pretended to be telling a version of the truth, and then it turned out to all be speculative, theoretical. And now here we are with David imagining some more horribleness, and you guys absolutely don’t trust him any more, and there’s no way in hell he’s really telling the truth now. Right?
Page 18 – “You wanted my permission.” Oof. She’s a smart cookie, this one. She’s sees right through you, Daveyboy. You’re going to have to work hard to come back from this one.
Page 19 – Ohplop.
The “five hours ago” thing is another little sideways nod towards Watchmen, of course, but mostly it’s just the culmination of a really sneaky, twisty, cheaty, fooling-my-readers, cheap-ass ploy. I’m sorry. The whole point with this episode was to get you so turned around about David being an unreliable narrator that you never see it coming when he tells you about something that really has already happened. I’d feel bad for tricking you if I wasn’t such a nasty piece of work.
And, fuck. I mean… how do we all feel now?
Listen: this is the beauty of a book like Legacy. There’s no “he did the right thing!” There’s no “he’s evil!” There’s just two hearts, hopelessly intertwined, on either side of an ideological gulf. Nothing’s simple, folks.
Page 20 – And hey, as we’re soon to find out – thanks to what David’s reading in that there book – it’s not just their hearts which are intertwined. Things are about to get very… very interesting…
Incidentally, panel 2? With the bisected speech balloon? Only in comics, man. Only in comics. <3
X-MEN LEGACY TPB VOL#1: PRODIGAL — out now. Probably.
“X-Men Legacy is one of the triumphs of the Marvel Now initiative, and the best X-Men book you can buy right now. It’s a wee wonder.” - The Beat
So apparently Vol#1, which collects episodes 1-6 - that’s the complete first arc - is now in stores, despite official publication dates appearing to put it some distance away. Maybe it’s a retailer/Amazon disparity, maybe it’s a US/UK thing, I don’t know. Still looking into it. Either way: it’s either out now or out real soon.
Point is this: the ongoing series is getting blisteringly good press. If you have the slightest taste for an unconventional, thoughtful, funny, weird, grim, action-packed freak of a book, but you missed out when the new series started, here’s your gateway to the catchup.
You want some more testimonials to tip your hand? Here we go:
“One of the most politically charged, intelligent and plain old hilarious Marvel books I’ve ever read… […] At this point I just can’t recommend it enough; it’s a complex, challenging story of mutant destiny, peppered with real-world ideas present in a shocking and occasionally hilarious way. It’s a battle cry against stagnation, and it promises and fulfills the idea that the superhero genre can tell any story worth telling, even mature ones. If you aren’t afraid of it, X-Men Legacy will absorb you.” -Marvel Disassembled.
“What a great, well-rounded book. Vertigo standards on a Marvel X-monthly.” –BleedingCool
“The House of Ideas can still surprise with decent strong self-contained series amidst the ever-expanding core of densely connected titles. It’s that rare exception: this book you should absolutely judge by its covers.” –Weekly Comicbook Review
See you in the funnybooks. -sx
X-MEN LEGACY #9: Out Today. Wherein:
…is in stores today.
Wherein everyone’s favourite big-haired mutant prodigy David encounters the above creepy mofo, Aarkus. AND MUCH HILARITY ENSUES.
Delvers-beneath-the-surface may be interested to note that Aarkus isn’t a new character at all, but bona fide Comics Royalty. You’ve all heard of the Marvel character “The Vision”, right? Green-and-red android dude?
We-ell what you possibly didn’t realise is that said android was in fact a reboot/recreation of an even earlier character, of the same name, from the 1940’s. The first Vision, otherwise known as Aarkus. Who makes his creepy return today.
On the moon. With, like, books and words and romance and stuff.
X-MEN LEGACY #9, out this week. Get your Preview on—
5-page lettered previews all over the ‘net like an embarrassing disease. Here’s one, courtesy Comicosity:
Can you say DATIN’ ON THE MOON?
And the episode solicit looks a little like this:
X-MEN LEGACY #9
SIMON SPURRIER (W) • TAN ENG HUAT (A)
Cover by MIKE DEL MUNDO
MANY ARMORS OF IRON MAN VARIANT BY Gerald Parel
• Legion and Blindfold go on a date…on the moon!
• But when Legion reveals his ulterior motive for visiting the moon, will Blindfold leave him without a goodnight kiss??
32 PGS./Rated T+ …$2.99
X-MEN LEGACY #13 & 14
SIMON SPURRIER (W) • TAN ENG HUAT (A)
Covers by MIKE DEL MUNDO
• Continuing his mission to proactively pave the way for the reignited mutant race, Legion travels to the United Kingdom to preemptively extinguish a threat to his people…
…but the head of Britain’s paranormal intelligence agency, PETE WISDOM, won’t stand for Legion committing any crimes in the name of mutantkind on his turf!
• So in this game of superhuman spy vs. spy, who will ultimately get the upper hand? I’ll tell you one thing: someone is certainly going to be a CASUALTY in this faceoff!
32 PGS. (EACH)/Rated T+ …$2.99 (EACH)
Out in July.