Whole at last.
Ah, Legion old buddy, old pal! What a ride you've taken us on! So sad that it has to end! But let's not tarry over that sweet sorrow and dive straight into the meat of the issue!
After 24 harrowing issues, we come to the last stop on the X-Men Legacy express. And it's a doozy. With Legion's powers spiraling out of control, involuntarily sponging up mutant psyche's left and right, there is so much to love about this issue. For one, the always impeccable Simon Spurrier pens an amazingly introspective issue. Not only is it packed to the gills with poignancy, Legion's inner monologue serves as a great commentary on the overall story of the book. By now, it's no doubt that Spurrier knows how to write a good comic book, but his masterful dialogue builds to a fever pitch until he wraps up the issue and the series neatly. I'm going to dispense with the usual spoiler alerts since (a) it's the last issue and (b) whether you're just starting to read the book now or have stuck with it, nothing I'm about to say with spoil any previous issues or rob you of the enjoyment of reading this one.
With that said, having Legion erase himself from the timeline (at least ostensibly, with at least one lingering loophole to bring Legion back someday) is a great way to tie up this rather troublesome story. The plot of X-Men Legacy has never really impeded stories in other books, but it always made for an awkward "Wait, when did this happen" moment every time it converged with another book. Having Legion remove himself from the equation completely helps explain away that nagging fanboy timeline debate. Though, the resolution isn't without some problems, but we'll get to that later.
Along with stellar storytelling, Tau Eng Huat's art gets kicked up a notch (sort of; we'll get to it). Some of the best panels of the series--silent panels even--appear in this final issue. And the last page is drawn with a rare mix of Huat's hard-to-love style and an appealing composition that makes for satisfying parting shot to the series. Also, having to deal with some rather Cthonic portrayals and challenging pacing, Huat's art keeps up with Spurrier's writing incredibly.
As a sidenote, the colors and letters in this issue are amazing as well. It's be easy with all of the action that takes place for colorists to rely on one hue (or too many) to the books detriment. But this issue demonstrated a remarkable balance between the mundane and the otherworldly with nary a hint at the effort it must have taken to achieve such balance.
Okay, as much as I've praised Spurrier's writing, it can't be left unsaid that this issue did suffer a bit. The entire issue (as well as the last one) gets hamstrung by the fact that we're essentially hip-deep in exposition the audience can easily infer by now. While Legion spells out his doomed situation eloquently, at times I felt like Spurrier was just filling up the page. It doesn't so much take away from the overall enjoyment of the plot and/or dialogue, it just makes boldly apparent how much room for tightening up this book (as an individual issue and a whole) contained.
While I'm a big fan of the series resolution, I can't say it didn't raise a quizzical eyebrow or two even as I read it. If Legion now never exists, what does that mean for his cannon appearances in New Mutants or later X-books? And does the AoA now officially un-exist? Or are we back to the less Bendis influenced idea that you can't alter a timeline, but rather create a fractured alternate timeline and---AHHH! Headaches all around. I know it's one of those things that for the sake of the momentum of the issue I should just let be and not worry about. I also know that there's a huge loophole that could be exploited to understand it all. And if I weren't such a Whovian, it would probably bother me, but I can still can't reconcile the fact that best explanation for the book's ending--however poetic--can best be explained as "timey wimey."
And remember how I said we see some of Huat's best work in this book? Yeah, well we also see some of the worst (though that's par for the course by now). I mean, not to come down on the guy, but terms like "proportion" and "scale" seem to have been missing from his artistic education. It's not so bad that it mars the book beyond enjoyment, but it's also not free of the label "cringe-worthy." There's even a panel where David doesn't even much resemble himself. The guy has a style I adore, don't get me wrong--it just isn't a fit for this book. And part of me can't help but wonder if that wasn't a significant factor keeping X-Men Legacy from flying off the shelves.
With dialogue and plot that remind me of Ennis cutting his teeth on Excalibur, and a delightful blend of truly trippy and placidly normal panels, I can't complain much (the above notwithstanding) about this issue or series. It has been a great read. And while I can't say I ever saw this book having the future that titles like Venom or the Scarlet Spider had (rest in peace, guys), I can say I'm a bit sorry that this book never quite got its due. In a way, the protagonist kind of qualifies this book with somber accuracy, reminding us that just because no one remembers the story, it doesn't mean it didn't happen. If you're at all confused at that last bit, go pick up the issue. And if you're very clever, pick up the twenty-three issues that come before it, too.