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Feb 3

The X-Axis – 3 February 2013

Posted on Sunday, February 3, 2013 by Paul in x-axis

One of those weeks where I’m very, very pushed for time, but there are so few X-books out this week (as in, two) that I might as well just get them done…

X-Men Legacy #5 – The plot threads start to draw together, as tends to happen when you’re coming up for what will be the end of the first trade paperback volume.  But Si Spurrier does manage to give that connection some sense of surprise, perhaps because he’d set up what seemed to be a fairly disparate set of storylines that looked as if they might somehow come together down the road.  Instead, we get a lot of explanations here rather sooner than I would have predicted, so that while the overall pattern makes sense, it doesn’t feel like it’s been patiently lumbering towards us for months.  (Spoilers ahead, by the way.)

This starts off looking like the start of a new story, with Legion going to Westchester to try and sneak past the X-Men and see if he can help Blindfold.  That leads into an extended origin flashback for her, which for most books would have been enough to serve as the main point of the issue.  And as an origin story, I have mixed feelings about it; I think this is something like the third attempt that’s been made to explain Blindfold’s eccentricities, none of which fit all that neatly together.  Spurrier, though, is at least trying to come up with a dramatic reason for why she acts like this, rather than just shrugging his shoulders and accepting that mutants are weird – and in doing so he gives her a proper villain of her own.  The bit which genuinely does come as a surprise is that he then turns out to be the mystery villain from earlier issues.  And that could have been painfully obvious, but there’s some very clever misdirection in the way the story is structured, so that it comes across as the introduction of a new element, only to wrongfoot the reader and set up for an unexpected cliffhanger.

I like the pairing up of Legion and Blindfold – both have essentially been mental illness gimmick characters for most of their existence, so there’s something to be explored in having them both try to transcend that.  The risk is that in developing them beyond their gimmicks, you lose what makes them memorable, but as Spurrier’s managed to avoid that with Legion himself so far, the signs are good.

X-Treme X-Men #9 – You can never be sure, of course, but this feels rushed in that way that imminently cancelled comics tend to feel rushed.  After giving a leisurely introduction to the second, more violent version of Dazzler in the previous issue, the series races to wrap up her storyline before it’s really got off the ground.  No doubt this is the same basic character arc that was always intended, but at this speed it can’t help but feel contrived, as the second Dazzler rapidly comes to terms with the original and makes a heroic sacrifice and, well, you know.  This issue’s alternate world also gets a bit too rushed, since the locals don’t get a proper chance to breathe or have any storylines of their own – once again, it’s a case of “arrive, kill generic target, leave.”  And Sage doesn’t appear to be contributing anything much, tending to suggest that whatever was planned for her has been sidelined, but she’s here now so she’s got to stand in the background regardless.

Granted, X-Treme X-Men has always been a maddeningly inconsistent book, but the problems here – which relate mainly to rushing through ideas that feel as if they could have been more satisfying at double the length – suggest a forced wrap-up is the main culprit.

Bring on the comments

  1. Jason says:

    I never got the slightest hint of mental illness from Blindfold. Her powers made her answer questions before they were asked sometimes, that’s all.

  2. Niall says:

    Two surprisingly good books – especially Legacy. I like X-treme’s Dazzler and it has succeeded in making its cast a bit more interesting than the average Exiles team.

    I’m interested to see where Legion’s arc is going.

  3. Thom H. says:

    I flipped through X-treme X-men quickly, and I have to say I love the Howlett/Herc bickering. Fun!

    Also, is Alison throwing solid light projectiles now? Is she Marvel’s Green Lantern all of a sudden?

  4. Evilgus says:

    I’m sure Dazzler has done “solid light holograms” once upon a time… if there’s enough sound that is, like at the end of Eve of Destruction (using the roar of a crowd?)

    Also, X-Men Legacy: I find Legion’s “Scottish” accent so jarring! Why has an editor not picked up on this yet… his mother is the Israeli ambassador after all! Hopefully it’ll be explained away as a personality thing.

    Also, Blindfold’s backstory does give her a nice villain, and some quite strong language from the baddy (genequeer? that’s a new one…). But it does seem, I don’t know, almost quite standard, whereas Blindfold somehow seemed way more enigmatic than that? Would love to know what Carey intended for her with the Destiny link (her grandmother?). Or alternatively, original intentions for that short-lived New X-Men series. Which reminds me, Dust is a character they could do with revisiting…

  5. Kenny says:

    I’m going to miss X-Treme X-Men. It took them a while to get off the ground, but it seems like they finally did in these past few issues, and now they have to hurry and wrap things up. There’s no reason (yet) that X-Treme and AoA can’t stick around after the crossover. It sounds like editorial at Marvel is using the crossover as an excuse to cancel them.

  6. Somebody says:

    Actually, it sounds like they’re existing for *a couple of issues longer than they otherwise would have* due to the crossover. Pretty much the opposite of the crossover being “an excuse to cancel them”.

  7. Paul says:

    The reason they can’t stick around after the crossover is because they sell dismally. The crossover is an attempt to give them some kind of send-off, from the look of it.

  8. ZZZ says:

    I didn’t hate Blindfold’s new backstory, but I much preferred the idea that her mental issues were just the natural result of her powers making her see the past, present, and multiple versions of the future all at the same time, especially since, having no eyes, she might have no way of being sure which of the things she’s seeing is actually happening right now. It wouldn’t make sense for someone like that TO be completely coherrent. Not everything needs a secret origin.

    I wonder if, instead of cancelling Exiles and AoA, they combined them into a single series psuedo-anthology series – “X-Men: Multiverse” or “Infinite X-Men” or somesuch – either alternating between the two stories or giving each half an issue each month, possible throwing in the ocassional one-shot story based in one of the many, many other established alternate dimensionas and timelines the X-Men have encountered, would that increase the sales for the books (their readership can’t be 100 percent overlap, right?) or just serves as more proof that anthologies don’t sell?

  9. Brad Curran says:

    Probably the latter, but I’d give it a shot.

  10. The original Matt says:

    I’d really like to see it knocked down to 4 titles a month to be perfectly honest. And no character overlap. Each book should have its a-listers, b-listers and younger members, and should all live in different places. Mansion team, utopia team, x-cavern team and then maybe another attempt at a government team.

  11. Omar Karindu says:

    Blindfold is also a character who started as one of Joss Whedon’s standard “word salad” types, and most of those in other media have been explicitly mentally ill in some way: River in Firefly and Drusilla in Buffybeing the major examples.

  12. Omar Karindu says:

    Sorry, that should read “word salad oracle.” Like River and Drusilla, Blindfold can see the future and speaks in often cryptic metaphors. ZZZ , you seem to be describing the old Moore/Davis character Cobweb, who never spoke in the sort of fragments that Whedon’s various psychic sibyls do.

  13. ZZZ says:

    I don’t remember if Whedon wrote her this way or if it wasn’t until later writers got a hold of her, but the style of speaking I most associate with her is the use of random responses to no one in particular and overqualifying her comments. Things like “I’m sorry, what? It’s just, if you don’t mind, there seems to be, I think that, we should run, maybe, no thank you.” Which seems like someone hearing what the people around her are saying, did say, and might be about to say all at the same time.

  14. moose n squirrel says:

    Nothing about Blindfold has ever suggested mental instability – at most, she’s eccentric, which is understandable given the way she sees the world. Are people really assuming she’s insane entirely based on her speech patterns? Damn, I would hate for you to meet someone with Tourette’s.

  15. Omar Karindu says:

    No, I read her as an insane prophetess initially because she was written almost exactly the way Whedon writes other “insane prophetess” characters in almost every other thing by him that I know about.

  16. kingderella says:

    i think mike carey established that blindfold wasnt insane, but “saw the world from a strange perspective”. it was during “blinded by the lights”, when she appears to commit suicide to escape exodus.

  17. Jason says:

    I didn’t even realize Whedon introduced Blindfold. I thought his young X-man character from Astonishing was Armor.

    And the thing about Armor I remember is she spent a lot of time answering the question you were just about to ask.

  18. --D. says:

    Wheden did not introduce Blindfold; Morrison did.

  19. Jacob says:

    Pretty sure Whedon created Blindfold…are you thinking of Negasonic Teenage Warhead?

  20. Max says:

    Yeah, Blindfold is a Whedon character. She seems to be filling in Destiny’s role as the precog in the X-Men’s corner of the Marvel U. Destiny was killed by Legion, which brings the conversation full circle.

  21. Omar Karindu says:

    While I agree that Blindfold has been interpreted as a precog without a normal sense of language by later writers, I do feel that Whedon intended her to be a bit “off.”

    I’d also note that there’s no contradiction between being mentally ill and “seeing the world from a strange perspective,” particularly if you buy into the argument that mental illness is, to at least some degree, socially constructed.

  22. Ju-osh says:

    zzz: “Blindfold’s [...] mental issues were just the natural result of her powers making her see the past, present, and multiple versions of the future all at the same time, especially since, having no eyes, she might have no way of being sure which of the things she’s seeing is actually happening right now.”

    It’s a bit wordy to be sure, but THIS is the description that Marvel should use in their next character guidebook-yearbook-scorecard-thingie.

  23. Joseph says:

    Sorry D, Blindfold didn’t appear in Morrison’s New X-Men. She was introduced as a friend of Wing and Armor’s in Astonishing. Her first appearance was Astonishing 7. I agree she’s written to be a little off, but I think the nature of that foregrounds interesting questions about mental “illness” in general. As does Legion’s multiple personas. Both characters are considered to be ill because of their power, which understandably impact how they interact socially. This should be an interesting book. Glad to see Chamber being set up for some use finally as well.

  24. --D. says:

    Uncle!

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