Monday, 13 January 2014

X-Men Legacy: Prodigal (Marvel Now)

A legacy of scrapbooking
X-Men Legacy Vol. 1: Prodigal (Marvel NOW)

Writer: Simon Spurrier

Artists: Tan Eng Haut and Jorge Molina

Collects: X-Men Legacy #1-6

Background Information:

The real strength of the X-Men is that you can introduce hundreds of heroes to their books without making the whole thing sound ridiculous. Having people simply born with powers negates the need for origin stories every issue and this means multiple spin-off series can happen at the drop of a hat.

X-Men Legacy is one such series. Where the series used to focus primarily on Professor Charles Xavier, spiritual leader of the X-Men, this new series in Marvel NOW has an entirely different focus.

Review:

X-Men Legacy now focuses on Xavier’s son, David Haller. Also known as Legion, Haller is a Scottish raised mutant whose power is... multiple personality disorder. Leave it to the X-Men to make that a superpower instead of a difficult mental disorder.

 
Okay, I should explain; Legion can harness these multiple personalities in order to harness an array of fairly dangerous mutant powers. It’s possibly the coolest power ever. Unfortunately, Legion’s multiple personalities are... how do I say it... sadistic, evil, tyrants bent on raising hell. In order to contain these personalities, Legion has constructed a mental prison where those personalities are locked away and routinely tortured. Naturally, this order can’t last, and the story really kicks off when Legion’s personalities break free, causing Legion all sorts of trouble; the least of which not being the rampage he takes all over the world.

I hadn’t read any of Simon Spurrier’s work before this, but I gotta say; I’m impressed. The dialogue here is fantastic. Sure, Legion talks like Billy Conely (because that’s apparently how all Scots talk), but the dialogue is witty and fun. Aside from a Scottish charicature, Legion is clearly uneasy about himself and has obvious neglect issues from his father. Legion’s philosophy is also interesting, he believes in Xavier’s vision, but doesn’t agree with the X-Men, who he sees as a group of thugs. The result of this is a complex, conflicted and highly interesting character.

The best moments in the book, though, come when we get a glimpse into Legion’s mind. Legion is left in his own mind to take on his own demons as they try to take him over. These moments are equal parts funny and terrifying. Legion’s mental rogues are diverse both visually and in terms of their personalities. It’s impressive that Spurrier can handle so many voices without making any of them sound uninteresting or like rehashes of other characters.

The art by Haut and Molina is also fantastic. The character designs look as chaotic as you would expect from a book about multiple personalities. Art is best when it convinces us that we are seeing things through the eyes of the characters. Only a few books are really able to do this, but Prodigal does it near-perfectly.

My only complaint about the book is that the title’s main villain, a floating set of eyeballs (yes, you read that right) name Luca , is somewhat overshadowed in this book. He has some truly great moments, but they seem pretty small compared to the battles going on in Legion’s head.

Prodigal marks the beginning of what will likely be an amazing X-Men series. If you can handle a little weird in your comics, definitely give this one a look. It gets a four and a half out of five personalities.

**** ½

+ Great dialogue

+ Wonderful, chaotic art

+ Reading about Legion’s mental world is awesome.

- Main villain is not given the limelight he really deserves.

Alternate Option: X-Men: Schism

If you want a book that focuses more on the core X-Men, you could do worse than this.