Legion of X #3
Nightcrawler, Blindfold and Weaponless Zsen have entered the collective unconscious of all the mutants on Krakoa, in search of a lost god. Will they find her, or will their own fears and desires swallow them up?
I’ve read this issue three times, in an effort to reconcile the good and the bad at war within it. I can’t do it. Si Spurrier is a talented writer, but in this book, his weaknesses and strengths are equally matched. I’ll start by analyzing his strengths.
Spurrier has a tremendous knack for writing the characters he is either deeply emotionally invested in or those he creates. Blindfold is handled absolutely masterfully, as is Legion, Zsen and even Cain Marko. He knows who they are, he knows what they want, he understands what motivates them and he conveys that knowledge both beautifully and subtly. His breakdown of the ways in which the Krakoan laws can be twisted, or applied so ruthlessly that they trample people who are innocent, is wonderful, and I am really enjoying the psychedelic elements of this series— even if the effects are not really carrying over into other books.
But there are several glaring problems which I cannot gloss over. First, Nightcrawler is a Catholic (the imagery is still there, even if the writer handling it has zero understanding or compassion for the faith) but he’s never been uncomfortable with either his own sexuality or with anyone else’s. Sex and Catholicism are not contradictions (just ask St. Theresa) and most Catholics are not tormented by it. Sexual desire has never been shown, in the text, to torment him like this. Nor has he previously been judgmental about the sexuality of others. This is an agnostic writer projecting stereotypes onto a character which has previously been handled with much more nuance.
The idea of Nightcrawler unconsciously having a crisis of faith so profound that he (in the words of one of his Bamfs) ‘created his own dogma’ is quite good. The idea that he is secretly afraid that there is no God is an idea that mystics of all faiths meet and transcend (or otherwise), and it would be rich ground for storytelling if not for the fact that this particular character has already gone through all of that in previous stories, including the one in which he actually returned from literal Heaven.
His whole arc reads as though it were written by someone who hasn’t read very much about the character and who is operating from a playbook which is composed entirely of stereotypes about a faith which he does not understand. And that’s profoundly disappointing. I hesitate to say this, since I spent a full year longing for Nightcrawler to be in a book, but I think that this story would be better if he wasn’t in it. It would be better than reading the score and hearing only wrong notes.
Jan Bazaldua’s art was as trippy and wonderful as ever. I was a bit grossed out by the fact that he chose Rogue (Nightcrawler’s sister) as one of his hallucinatory sexual partners, but perhaps that was the point. In any case, Bazaldua seems to be able to handle any scene masterfully. Federico Blee’s color work was incredibly well rendered— it was vivid without ever being overwhelming.
This book is something of a mixed bag, but there’s still a tremendous amount to enjoy within these pages — especially if you like clown zombies.
This book is something of a mixed bag, but there's still a tremendous amount to enjoy within these pages — especially if you like clown zombies.
Legion of X #3: Crisis of Faith
- Writing - 6.5/106.5/10
- Storyline - 8.5/108.5/10
- Art - 9/109/10
- Color - 9.5/109.5/10
- Cover Art - 8.5/108.5/10
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