I've not read X-Men: Legacy since the first couple of issues of the retitled Adjectiveless X-Men comic. It's focus on Professor Xavier and totally rubbish villains meant it wasn't for me. But there's nothing to get me excited like a BOLD NEW DIRECTION cover blurb. It's right up there with BECAUSE YOU DEMANDED IT and GREAT NEWS FOR ALL OUR READERS.
And that's a spiffy cover by Daniel Acuna - though the Beast looks to be rendered in a different style to everyone else - all iconic and patriotic. It turns out the X-Men are being patriotic about their new island nation, Magneto's Asteroid M, which has apparently been brought down to Earth. Who knew that after decades of being constantly miserable, a hunk of dead rock would put a smile on those kids' faces?
What we need is a villain to remove it and Mike Carey helpfully gives us one of the creepiest in X-Men history, Emplate. The very definition of Bondage Elephant, the dimension-phasing power sucker is back, and hungry. A variety of X-Men try to take him out but in the grand tradition of Legion of Three Worlds (how could 60-odd heroes have a hope of taking down one baddie?), he gets away. It's not all bad though, as there are some terrific moments along the way, from Emplate strangling the frankly vile Pixiewixie to Madison Jeffries appealing for psychic aid. A character portrayal I didn't enjoy involved Rogue moaning to Cyclops that she doesn't wish to be sidelined as a teacher to Pixiewixie, Rockslide, Indra and co, the Cousin Olivers of the superhero set. What happened to the sparky young woman I used to know, the one who would punch Cyclops before taking a job she didn't want? I know she gets whiny when around Gambit, but he's not around.
At least she's drawn well by Acuna, as are most people in this book. His Wolverine is a mite odd, mind, looking like a kid who's pasted on whiskers and claws, but I have to commend him for at least remembering that Logan shouldn't be 6ft. While handicapped by having to draw the hideous Frank Quitely costumes, Acuna produces a great looking story, with action scenes that show a bit more life than in some of his earlier work, such as the Flash.
The only bad thing about this oddly enjoyable X-Men entry was the length. This is an annual, which should mean Big Story. Instead, we must make do with part 1 of the four-part Devil at the Crossroads (was 1930s blues singer Robert Johnson a filthy mutie, then?) and a too-short 24pp. Did someone say 'intended for the regular book, was it?' Oh, that would be me. The rest of the pages are taken up by a short featuring Gambit aka Charming My Arse. He sneaks into a HAMMER facility - can't have a Marvel story without referencing bloody Dark Reign - to steal a chair for Cyclops. It's only right the leader of the X-Men has the chair he wants.
As ever, for Remy le Beau read Pepe le Pew. He doesn't quite eat himself but he gets pretty damn close. The story, by Carey and Mirco Pierfederici, is OK, it's a light-hearted, pleasant romp . . . until some nonsense involving tedious X-villain Poxylips comes into play.
Oh well, so much for a Bold New Direction. Still, there'll be another one around in a month or two.