Marvel Legacy 'X-Men: Blue #13' Review: Self-Conscious And Underwhelming
We start off a new era of the X-Men with a crossover — because Marvel physically cannot control itself, I imagine.
Mojo has hopped over to 616 (or whatever it's called now) and started a global gameshow, having the X-Men fight off some of their most dangerous and memorable foes. Bloodstorm, Cyclops, Prestige, and Kitty are taking of the Sentinels of Days of Future Past. Angel, Storm, Logan, and Iceman are throwing down with Frost Giants for some reason. Jean Grey, Beast, Colossus, Nightcrawler, and Jimmy Hudson are taking on some variety of demons.
Meanwhile, Mojo is broadcasting the battles to the world and loving every minute of it.
Alright, time to get some of the broad-strokes plot grievances out of the way. I already griped about this being a crossover.
Here's my next complaint, and many other Marvel Legacy relaunches/rebrandings have done this, as well. Bringing back a lot of the X-Men's greatest hits for a battle is pretty nakedly harkening back to the glory days to appeal to the aging audience what complained about All-New, All-Different Marvel and at least helped us get to Marvel Legacy. Frankly, it looks a little lazy and self-conscious on Marvel's part.
But having a villain come out and say "Hey, we're harkening back to the X-Men's glory days," is a bit too cute and blatant. This is even worse when this is partially false advertisement and many of these scenarios are unfamiliar. Also, how would Mojo even know what the X-Men's "greatest hits" are, especially Days of Future Past, unless we are hitting Deadpool levels of brainless self-awareness?
To digress a bit, I dug All-New, All-Different Marvel. I thought it was bold. It had its problems, marginalizing the X-Men and pushing crossover events harder than ever being a couple of them. However, putting a new generation of heroes on the forefront was refreshing, and it had a lot of titles I greatly enjoyed, such as All-New, All-Different Avengers, Spider Woman, Astonishing Ant-Man Ultimates, Sam Wilson: Captain America, and New Avengers, and Black Panther, Power Man and Iron Fist, and Thunderbolts later on.
Many of these titles still exist to some capacity now, which actually highlights the "having its cake and eating it too" problem that already seems to be afflicting Legacy. There is a way to appeal to the crowd that liked All-New, All-Different Marvel as well as those who don't, but Marvel's current strategy seems to be leaning towards making both crowds unhappy. In fairness to Marvel, there is a crowd that hated the initiative that won't be satisfied until Ms. Marvel, Moon Girl, Squirrel Girl, America, Miles Morales, Captain Marvel, and Sam Alexander lie dead and cancelled; but, well, screw those people, honestly.
I say all of this, but I'll always find comics I like. Marvel still makes up the bulk of my pull list, even if I do find many DC titles more consistently satisfying. Black Panther, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, and Defenders are always winners, Daredevil is still good, Uncanny Avengers and Astonishing X-Men are becoming two of my favorites, Falcon shows a lot of promise, and Venom is getting better with every issue. I've been known known to enjoy an issue of All-New Wolverine, Spider-Man (the Miles Morales book), and Jessica Jones from time to time, too.
But back to the comic at hand. All the problems here aren't just metatextual. There are a couple of plot moments that had me rolling my eyes too, but, to touch on those, we'll need to dig into spoiler territory.
As you may expect, Longshot shows up. He's getting a one-over on Mojo by pirating his programs via the power of the internet and whatever the Mojoverse equivalent of YouTube is. Now, that seems like a cute reference to digital and streaming overtaking traditional cable and satellite, but it also, seemingly unknowingly, hits on some deeper satire of both systems.
Longshot is still profiting off of the suffering of the X-Men, even if he's helping them. I thought this was setting him up as a lesser part of the same corrupt system, but it doesn't. It seems to laud him for it. And, just like YouTube drama channels and second-rate "rationalists" and conspiracy theory shows masquerading as proper news all contribute to an environment potentially just as toxic and decadent as classical cable television, Longshot is still kind of being a dick by profiting off Mojo's programs. The comic didn't seem to take this into account, going for a cute "gotcha" from Longshot instead.
Also, Bloodstorm seems to get killed. This leads to two possibilities: either she's not dead and this is the umpteenth time a fake death has been used to cheaply up the drama in a superhero comic from the Big Two, or she is dead and we seriously just brought her in last issue to kill her off now to still cheaply up the drama. Either way, it's not a good look and actively takes away from the comic.
I'd be lying if I said there were no redeeming qualities, though. Mojo is a fun villain. Some of the action sequences are pretty sweet. The cast is still likable. Also, Jorge Molina doe the art, and it looks really freaking good. Matt Milla provides some solid color work, too.
This is a mixed bag of a comic. If you're looking just for some X-Men fun, then, yeah, it can provide it. However, looking even barely beyond the surface shows a pretty shallow adventure fueled by corporate anxiety. As such, I have to say give this one a pass.