This week’s X-Men guide update includes some of my favorite runs of all time, because they each had keen single-character focus that mined past continuity to allow characters to grow and change. It’s my Guide to X-Men Legacy.
X-Men Legacy was Mike Carey’s reinvention of X-Men (1991) in the wake of “Messiah Complex” in 2008. He made the bold move of jettisoning a fan-favorite team lead by Rogue to refocus the book entirely on Professor Xavier. It was one of the few times in X-Men history Xavier was truly the lead character in an X-Men book – the other being Claremont’s short-lived Excalibur (2004).
After a year of focusing on Xavier, Carey pivoted his focus back to Rogue. Rogue had been a lead character many times over, even anchoring a pair of mini-series and an ongoing title. However, no one had ever before dug so deeply into her character and her powers as Carey. In giving Rogue a respite from the idea of her powers as a curse, he was able to unify the many aspects of her personality we had seen (and loved) over the years – as revolutionary, rebel, leader, lover, and mentor.
Simon Spurrier did something similar on his 2012-2014 run of X-Men Legacy, except he was working with a character with barely any history at all! Professor Xaver’s son Legion had only ever figured heavily into a handful of past comic arcs – his introduction in Claremont’s New Mutants, the final 30 issues of Claremont’s run, LegionQuest as a lead-in to Age of Apocalypse, and Zeb Wells’ recent run on New Mutants. Yet, Spurrier treated him similarly to how Carey dealt with Rogue – digging into why his powers and his life had always been so fractured, and what his humanity looked like beneath that.
I wish this Guide to X-Men Legacy update included new collected editions, especially of Carey’s incredible run on Rogue. Unfortunately, we haven’t seen new collections containing any Legacy issues since the 2018 reprint of Spurrier’s run, aside from a few issues recollected in last year’s Avengers vs. X-Men omnibus. That doesn’t mean there was nothing to update! I added links to buy and read the entire run digitally, clarified the contents of several collections, and slightly tweaked the recommended reading oder.
With Marvel just wrapping up the reprints of the 2001-2012 era of Uncanny X-Men and X-Men (1991) last year it feels like the time is right to recollect X-Men Legacy (2008), which has never been collected beyond its original hardcovers and trade paperbacks. Perhaps we’ll see it recollected in the new “Modern Epic” line – especially if Rogue continues to have a prominent role in the X-Men line in 2023 and beyond.