Posted on Monday, August 5, 2013
by Paul in x-axis
Well, I’m assuming this is a two-parter, at any rate. It doesn’t actually say so, but the collected edition for issues #13-18 is called “Revenants”, and the solicitations indicates that it’s going to be three two-parters. Legacy is one of those traditionally-minded titles that is structured primarily for the ongoing series, and just happens to include suitable breaks in the action to allow for convenient collection.
“Hope and Glory” is a story that illustrates much of what’s good and bad about the current incarnation of Legacy. David has come to Britain, no doubt with some mysterious and convoluted plan in mind as ever. For once, though, the story isn’t told from his point of view, but by guest star Pete Wisdom, cast as the beleaguered official to has to keep David under control. There’s a dodgy foreign leader in town, and Wisdom assumes that David is planning some sort of attack on him.
In fact, that turns out to be largely a red herring. David has indeed gathered together a motley collection of British characters – Pixie, Psylocke, Lila Cheney, Chamber, Alchemy, and the ludicrously obscure Liam Connaughton, who once appeared in a single issue of the largely forgotten miniseries Muties, way back in 2002. Wisdom tracks them down without much in the way of difficulty, and David then sets about distracting him a range of psychic illusions, while Blindfold shows up and tries to assure Wisdom that David must have a bigger plan that makes sense. David stubbornly refuses to explain himself, in favour of wailing repeatedly that Wisdom and Blindfold don’t understand.
Ultimately we get an explanation that David has enlisted everyone else in a plan “to wipe mutophobic Britain off the map”, which is meant to sound like a terrorist scheme, but turns out to involve doing high-profile things to show how awesome mutants are. David then surrenders to the authorities in what he evidently considers an act of martyrdom, and Wisdom duly summons his mother from the Israeli embassy to kick off the next arc.
The curse of this series is its combination of ambition and handwaving. It wants to wrongfoot us, and it wants to play with the boundaries of genre convention; and it’s set up David as a character with a sufficiently wonky moral compass, quite aside from his multiple personalities, that he could plausibly be about to do something disastrously misjudged at any time. The tension between David as mastermind and David as loose cannon, and the possibility that at any moment he might turn out to be horrendously overreaching himself, is at the heart of this book.
But the problem with this story is that it doesn’t make an ounce of sense unless you’re willing to take a very broad brush approach to things. Most fundamentally, the story seems to want us to believe that David’s real plan was both (a) quite a good idea, and (b) a glorious and effective grand gesture. We’re even supposed to believe that the public back home in Aqiria are inspired to overthrow their absentee leader. This is what the plot requires, because Si Spurrier needs his lead character to be basically in the right, but it’s overconvenient to the point of madness.
Literally nothing about David’s collection of grand mutant gestures makes any sense. He’s got Psylocke using her telepathy to help soldiers with PTSD; Chamber helping to power Sellafield (?!?); Pixie using mind-control to stop rioting at the FA Cup Final (which… when did that even last happen…?); Alchemy building a 600-mile “magnetic neodymium strip” for use as a supersonic train track; Wisdom being manipulated into saving the foreign visitor; and Liam Connaughton not being a terrorist. No, seriously. Apparently Spurrier thinks it’s a tremendous inspiration when Irish people don’t blow things up. The mind boggles.
Oh, and we’ve got Lila Cheney hijacking national TV to publicise it all.
All of this, the story invites us to accept, not merely as a dramatic gesture (which is fair enough and the sort of thing David’s character would go for), but as a successful dramatic gesture. The last few pages have David and Blindfold smugly pointing to the success of their plans and Wisdom struggling to identify anything they’ve done wrong other than interfering with him personally.
This is all plainly ridiculous. The fundamental go-back-to-square-one-start-again plot problem here is that if David’s crew have permission to do all this, they never needed to sideline Wisdom in the first place, in which case there’s no story. But if they didn’t have permission, then what they’re doing – interfering with people’s minds, starting off nuclear reactions, building 600-mile train tracks – is manifestly going to terrify far more people than it would ever reassure. That would be fine if the idea was for it to backfire, but there’s nothing to suggest that this is the intention.
We have here a series that’s trying to do something interesting with David’s character, and that would largely succeed on that level if you were prepared to just roll with the plot. But the plot here is nonsense to a degree that defies disbelief. It just doesn’t work.