by Simon Spurrier (Writer), Tan Eng Huat, Craig Yeung (Artists), Jose Villarrubia (Colorist)
The Story: With the dark phoenix inside his psyche, David needs to gets himself together to actually have a chance to fight back.
The Review: The latest issue of X-Men Legacy was kind of great. With plenty of panel time dedicated to a duelling view of the past events of the main storyline of his title, Simon Spurrier went for both a retrospective and a seemingly dark-looking future for David Haller, the protagonist of this book. However, how does Simon Spurrier successfully continues this storyline when all the high concepts have been introduced so flawlessly and with such panache?
Simon Spurrier finds a way, as this issue mostly focus on the very basic concepts of David and his powers, putting the core of his character in the spotlight to transform him and shed a new light toward what he can be and how he could still evolve. Using the themes of his run, not only does the plot progress in a way that feels exciting and expansive, but David shows a new side of his personality with another point-of-view on his actions that actually elevate the character to something else.
Despite all the newer side of the mutants and their relations with the citizens of the Marvel universe, this book has always been clearly focused on David Haller, the mutant formerly known as Legion. His distrust, his colossal powers and the way he perceive everything has been some of the stronger points of the book and most of these slower developments comes to a head here as the issue devotes a good part of itself to David trying to make sense of what is happening, but also to get over it. The evolution of the character is not only slowly building up in a way that make sense considering what he went through, but it also one of the more important point of the issue. A book upon which the story and character are deeply tied together is always a nice thing and Spurrier does a splendid job here.
The writer takes so much of the spotlight on David, though, that it kind of make some of the appearances of other characters seems a bit trite in comparison. While Aarkus is used very well in this issue, providing a superb plot twist as well as a force of reason, other characters like Abigail Brand and Sydren aren’t that lucky. Serving as either comic relief or exposition teller, they don’t have that much of a presence in the comic. The fact that David is in the custody of S.W.O.R.D. means they have to be here, yet Spurrier doesn’t seem to quite know what to do with them.
Still, Spurrier is quite able to work despite these flaws in his script, as his pacing is exceptional here, with the switch between point-of-views done quickly between panels without hurting his narrative. The way he pinpoint the change in mindset of David along with how he provide for ideas to break out from the old status quo is brilliant, as the story never become circular in its logic or redundant in its narration and exposition. Most of everything is explained with David’s voice and understanding, putting the character as the vision of the reader, which makes the revelation those of David as well as the reader. It’s not the biggest effect, but in terms of storytelling it’s very effective here.
Tan Eng Huat and Craig Yeung are also effective as artists here, with their chaotic approach working very well here. Huat always worked better when dealing with the abnormal, the weirder stuff that are perhaps a bit ugly, which makes him work really well in an issue that is mostly set in a space station and in David’s head. The way he draws the dark phoenix, the various personalities of David and Aarkus is something that is great to look at, making them look odd and alien, yet not without human traits in order to convey emotions without stretching the suspension of disbelief further than it needs to. The way he is able to reproduce the violence and madness of what David is living through is also commendable, with the panel to panel connection being almost non-existent, the focus switching from one group to another without destroying the focus as the imagery collaborate with the dialogue very well. If there is one weakness, though, it’s the fact that some of the more human-looking characters are a bit ugly, with Abigail Brand and another character near the end that look a bit horrifying in term of human faces and anatomy. Still, it’s relatively minor as the rest fits the tone of the issue almost perfectly.
The colorization also follow this approach of madness, with Jose Villarrubia providing a palette with an immense plethora of colors, allowing for a variety and diversity that is mind-boggling at times. Despite it all, he is still able to work with basic contrasting techniques, allowing for some warm and cold colors to be preeminent, pushing for the conflict as the dark phoenix clash against the red background of David’s psyche, or the more colorful characters are very apparent against the backdrop of deep space. It’s both simple and complex, yet Villarrubia is quite good here as well.
The Conclusion: Providing a character-focused issue along with a tightly paced evolution in terms of narrative and development of its theme, Simon Spurrier gives another satisfying entry in this oddball series. With Tan Eng Huat, Craig Yeung and Jose Villarrubia collaborating on this madness, it is simply another pretty great issue of X-Men Legacy.
Hugo Robberts Larivière