The Thinking Man’s Comic Book

Review of X-Men Legacy #214
Title: “The Fluffer”

Auteur: Mike Carey
Artist: Didn’t bother to look. Someone shitty.

Just Back From the IML, Gambit Engorges Shaw by Pinching His Tits

It’s been three issues since I last checked in on Legacy, so let’s take a look shall we? As usual, Professor Carey provides me with a lot of food for thought.*

Plot-wise …
OK. I give. I can’t summarize it since this comic requires a Ph.D. in Continuity. All I know is that there were a lot of mental battles, bodies possessed and wills crushed. In my notes I’ve got something about Mister Sinister writing on Professor Xavier’s DNA when he was a little boy as a failsafe to ensure immortality if his body ever died; some woman named Amanda Mueller wanting to obtain Mister Sinister’s powers by killing all his possible host bodies and eradicating his consciousness from the special abilities. Amanda Mueller is immortal, but her heinous body eternally ages (I raised my hand in class to ask Professor Carey if this relates to the Classic film Death Becomes Her, but he rightly scoffed at my philistinism).

“The Black Womb” Smack-Talks Sinister,
Or, Who Says Comics are Misogynistic?
(2008, artist unknown)

Carey, newly appointed Minister of Information, raised an interesting narratological question: What do you do when your book is about a struggle between telepaths struggling to control one another’s minds? Mental battles with mind-rape blasts aren’t the most exciting things in the world. I’d venture to say that they are perhaps the least exciting things you could put in a comic. In the old days, when comics were painted on cave walls and Chris Claremont was popular and respected, he decided that all psychic battles of the will would take place in the “astral plane.” The astral plane, well known to yogis, is a white landscape awash with streaks of color – a veritable kaleidoscope. The duelists would get swords, suits of armor and heavy cod pieces that hid gender – these outfits were tailored physical expression of combatant mental preparedness (a well prepared psychic knew to flatten out his groin area or to bind her breasts for greater protection). At 9 years old, it was exciting for me, possibly due to the gender play, to see that kind of thing. There were stakes to it. An injury on the psychic plane expressed itself on one’s real body. So, as you can imagine, lots of nose-bleeds.

In class, Professor Carey explained that while mind-rape is fun, it needs to be more educational for the lay reader. So, now the characters throw flashbacks at one another. And they quote philosophers:

I love love love when people quote Nietzsche on strength of will. I took a seminar on Nietzsche once, where one of the guys in the class told the professor “I am too much of a Nietzsche-Man to do this assignment.” Well, he got an F. I didn’t do so great either. I received a B+, but don’t think I began to fully grasp the scope of Nietzsche’s brilliance. Thank god (wait, God is dead, right?), I can read comic books to pick up what I missed the first time around.

In addition to referencing Nietzsche on “eternal recurrence,” Professor Carey also cannibalizes Kierkegaard on despair several times in this issue. I’d snark that Legacy #214 reads like a class in Existentialism 101, however it’s a much more advanced course since the syllabus has a special component on “Daddy Issues.”

You stand at the blackboard, daddy,
In the picture I have of you,
A cleft in your chin instead of your foot
But no less a devil for that

Mister Sinister claims he is Shaw and Xavier’s truest father figure, not biologically (though he does imply that in regards to Gambit), but that his medical abuse of them as boys gave them ‘the stuff’ they needed to become leaders. That’s pure CC. The one who raped you made you. CC stole it from Wagner, though. Parsifal: “The spear that smote you / can heal your wound.”

Normally, I’d ask CC to get the fuck out of my comic with his enabling violations and indomitable will, but when Carey pulls the some routine as his Dissertation Chair he brings greater tone and sophistication to it — as seen below:

Photograph of My Mother Sent to Marvel Comics as an Artist’s Reference.

During his bear/cub moment with Gambit, the egotist Shaw justifies their high risk sex-play by explaining – using a cryptic reference to Dostoevsky – “I’d rather die as myself than live as someone else.” With the power channeled through his nipples, Shaw saves himself and Gambit while foiling the machinations of both Mister Sinister and the Black Womb. Simultaneously, Professor Xavier is able to cast Mister Sinister mind out of his own. The brilliant artist uses visual imagery — a picture of Xavier as a little boy, striding out of his room — to punctuate the importance of being your own man.

None of this is as important without Carey’s twist. At the end of the issue, we see that the cloning machine Sinister and Mueller were fighting over has spat out an amalgam of them both. The glorious new, Ms. Sinister.

A Moron

With Ms. Sinister’s very subtle SM overtones – the chiq leather bustier and hot pants combo – , Professor Carey seems to be delivering a critique of the Nietzschian Übermensch fantasies of overcoming exhibited by the male protagonists.

Carey hits it out of the park once more. This issue was a masterpiece of coherence. I really despise when overly critical nitpickers try to spoil the sheer genius of Mike Carey’s X-Men run for me. STFU haters.

Secondary Sources:

de Beauvoir, Simone. The Second Sex. Translated and edited by H. M. Parshley. New York: Knopf, 1953.

Camus, Albert. The Fall, and Exile and the Kingdom. Translated by Justin O’Brien. New York: Random House, 1957.

——. The Myth of Sisyphus and Other Essays. Translated by Justin O’Brien. New York: Random House, 1955.

——. The Plague. Translated by Stuart Gilbert. New York: Knopf/Random House, 1948.

——. The Stranger. Translated by Matthew Ward. New York: Knopf, 1993.

Heidegger, Martin. Being and Time. Translated by John Macquarrie and Edward Robinson. New York: Harper, 1962.

Kierkegaard, Søren. Concluding Unscientific Postscript to Philosophical Fragments. Edited and translated by Howard V. Hong and Edna H. Hong. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1992.

——. Either/Or. Edited and translated by Howard V. Hong and Edna H. Hong. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1987.

Nietzsche, Friedrich. The Birth of Tragedy. Translated by Douglas Smith. Oxford, England, and New York: Oxford University Press, 2000.

——. The Gay Science: With a Prelude in Rhymes and an Appendix of Songs. Translated by Walter Kaufmann. New York: Random House, 1974.

——. Twilight of the Idols, or, How to Philosophize with a Hammer. Translated by Duncan Large. Oxford, England, and New York: Oxford University Press, 1998.

Sartre, Jean-Paul. Being and Nothingness: an Essay on Phenomenological Ontology. Translated by Hazel E. Barnes. New York: Philosophical Library, 1956.

——. No Exit, and Three Other Plays. Translated by S. Gilbert and L. Abel. New York: Vintage Books, 1956.

Solomon, Robert C. From Hegel to Existentialism. New York: Oxford University Press, 1987.

* Please excuse me if this post contains ontological errors, but I had 11 mimosas as well as 1 car bomb shot and 1 las vegas shot before writing this. I vow to never have brunch with hos at a str8 bar again.

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