Issue(s): Uncanny X-Men #320, X-Men #40, Uncanny X-Men #321, X-Men #41
Cover Date: Jan-Feb 95
Title: Legion Quest: "The son rises in the east" / "The killing time" / "Auld lang syne" / "Dreams die!"
Mark Waid - Script
Scott Lobdell - Plot
Roger Cruz - Penciler
Tim Townsend - Inker
Fabian Nicieza - Writer
Andy Kubert - Penciler
Matthew Ryan - Inker
Mark Waid - Script
Scott Lobdell - Plot
Ron Garney - Penciler
Tim Townsend, Dan Green, Josef Rubenstein - Inker
Fabian Nicieza - Writer
Andy Kubert & Ron Garney - Penciler
Matthew Ryan - Inker
Ben Raab - Assistant Editor
Bob Harras - Editor
Legion Quest is a prologue to the Age of Apocalypse, a major event that takes the X-Men out of mainstream Marvel continuity for about four months. Legion had been appearing in X-Factor and also appeared in Uncanny X-Men #319 (the issue prior to the start of this) where he discussed with his father Professor X and got the impression that Xavier's dream of peace could have been achieved if it hadn't been for the constant interference of Magneto. In that issue, Xavier thought he was having a dream, and this story starts with the action having fully begun.
Despite - or perhaps because of - this being a big event, the usual problems with deadlines from this era are evident from the credits. The Uncanny issues have different artists and two additional inkers are brought on to help for the second one, and the second Adjectiveless issue is a mess where Kubert fully pencils certain issues, provides "breakdowns" for others, and brings in Garney to pencil the rest. The idea might have been to take the hit now and allow Age of Apocalypse to have more consistent art, although that was only moderately better.
(The credits don't even seem to be complete - who was responsible for pages 5 or 8-11, for example?).
Marvel reprinted all of the Age of Apocalypse issues, including these, in gold foil trades, and that's the format that i have for these Legion Quest issues (although as usual most of my screenshots come from scans of the original issues). One weird thing about this trade is that the footnotes have all been blacked out. You still have the asterisk and you can still see the box where the footnote would be, but it's covered up.
Makes me feel like i'm reading a redacted version of these issues that i got from the CIA via a FOIA request.
I enjoyed Legion Quest and AoA when i read it not-quite-in-realtime (i.e. when the gold foil trades came out) but re-reading Legion Quest, the thing that stands out most is how everything is just dialed up to eleven from the start. If this story came out a decade earlier by Claremont and, say, Paul Ryan, it would almost certainly have started with a contemplative attempt by Xavier to reach his son and having things slowly escalate from there. Instead we start fast-forwarded into a pointless fight and then it's basically just people screaming at each other and pounding futilely on Legion's impenetrable force field. The story is just full mid-90s Marvel Chaos.
Legion seems to have started things off having isolated himself in the desert, and he's only responded violently when the Israeli army, and then the X-Men, came in guns a-blazing. So the chaotic treatment of the plot really does it a disservice.
Eventually the team learns that Legion's plan is to go back in time to change history such that it will be more favorable to his father's goals. Interestingly, Storm doesn't think time travel can work that way.
For a team that has encountered Kate Pryde from Days of Future Past, as well as Nimrod, Cable, Bishop, and more, the idea of time travel itself wouldn't be a surprise to Storm, and the idea behind the original DOFP storyline was very much someone (Kate) coming back in time to prevent a future from happening. But Storm may have heard from Reed Richards (perhaps via Xavier's Illuminati connection) the theory that time travel only creates alternate realities. What she doesn't know - and this is very important for the Age of Apocalypse storyline - is that that rule is no longer in effect. That was due to changes in editorial edicts and writers (e.g. John Byrne no longer being around), but the in-story change happened in Fantastic Four #353-354. Prior to those issues, the Time Variance Authority would check all instances of time travel and create alternate realities when necessary, but in that story the main Marvel universe got sealed away from the TVA's domain, which in turn means that time travel now can actually affect history.
Eventually Legion grabs a bunch of the X-Men and travels back in time. A weird difference between the trade and the original issue can be seen below. Here's the original page:
In the trade, the page is for some reason spread out into two pages, with Jean's final dialogue removed.
There's a couple other instances of that, which i really don't understand the point of.
After that, we see Jahf, the guardian of the M'Kraan crystal, telling Lilandra that the end of the world is coming.
The next issue (X-Men #40) mostly takes place in the past, showing Xavier and Magneto in the past, in Israel, dancing around the idea that they are mutants. It's an expansion of X-Men #161 that doesn't really add anything of interest, but what's new is that Legion is now also there, acting as a patient in the hospital that Gabrielle Haller works at. Psylock, Iceman, Storm, and Bishop have also been brought into the past, but they have only a limited recollection of their identities. Legion's plans to kill Magneto are halted when he finds out that Magneto's motivations are driven by his own suffering.
"Meanwhile", in the present, Cable and Domino join the remaining X-Men.
The idea is that he's going to use his time travel technology to help find Legion and the X-Men.
And then Lilandra warns the X-people that there's a Seven Watcher Alarm.
Back to Uncanny, where Legion takes his father's form so that he can sleep with his mother (?!?!?).
Cable manages to push his way into the past and give Bishop his memories back.
(Uncanny #321 is a particularly pointless issue: about half of it shows a random barfight that Magneto and Xavier were in, and the whole idea that the time-tossed X-Men had to have their memories restored by Cable, instead of just having them starting off with their memories and getting to do something is just a waste of time.)
In X-Men #41, the X-Men fight Legion in the past, trying to prevent him from killing Magneto. It's a big mess.
During the fight, Iceman uses his powers to completely freeze Legion, something that stems from when the White Queen had been using his body and powers.
The Apocalypse of that era becomes aware of the fight and decides to accelerate his time table.
The fight ends when Xavier takes the killing blow that Legion meant for Magneto.
This causes Legion and the X-Men to blink out of existence. But it doesn't affect the "time-displaced" Bishop (seemingly confirming that he comes from an alternate timeline).
The effects are greater than just causing a few people to blink out of existence, though. All of time is frozen in a "crystalization wave".
It might have been interesting to examine whether Legion's impression about Magneto is even correct. I think there's a strong case to be made. One of the interesting things about having Magneto be the villain for the very first X-Men story is that we don't get to see what exactly Professor X had been doing prior to that to establish human/mutant relationships, and we also don't get to see what human government policies were towards mutants prior to Magneto's very public first attack. And we don't see significant mutant oppression until the introduction of Bolivar Trask and the Sentinels over a (publication) year after Magneto's attack in issue #1. We do know that Xavier was working with the FBI, which seems to suggest that Xavier's approach might have been working. But it's not something that's ever really been explored (even in continuity inserts, possibly excepting Marvels). What caused Magneto to resort to his extreme measures, especially in light of the resilient popularity that the Fantastic Four were experiencing at the time ("resilient" in the sense that even when the public was turned against them, the FF always manage to become accepted and popular again)? There were opportunities to delve into this kind of stuff, either in the beginning by having Xavier try to talk to Legion or during the time-travel portion. I'm not saying the story had to do something like that but so much of the motivations here and also in the resulting Age of Apocalypse scenario really cry out for an examination of Marvel history/continuity. It's certainly something i'd prefer; instead to me now this is kind of a prologue that you have to power through before getting to AoA. And there was certainly room for it when you consider how little actually happens in these four issues.
Random bookkeeping note: the reprint has this event as Legionquest (all one word) but the logos on the actual issues refer to it as Legion Quest (on two lines) so that's what i'll go with.
Quality Rating: C
Historical Significance Rating: 3 - Legion Quest, prologue to Age of Apocalypse
Chronological Placement Considerations: X-Factor #109 had a prologue to this story, but i don't have it and won't be covering it (worth noting that Marvel didn't bother to reprint it as part of the gold foils). Cable #20, an epilogue that takes place semi-concurrently with this story, is included in the Dawn of the Age of Apocalypse gold foils and since it's present day continuity it deserves to be covered separate from the main Age of Apocalypse entry, so i'll cover that in its own entry. Some of the characters from X-Factor are technically behind the scenes during this story, and X-Force #43 takes place concurrently with these events (and even briefly shows some of the events from this story during the course of an unrelated story). Excalibur #86 and any other stories that end with the world becoming frozen in crystal (scenes from X-Force, Wolverine, and a fight between Adam X and Eric the Red are also shown in the final sequence) obviously take place concurrently with this story.
- The trouble with Legion started in X-Factor #109.
- "For Legions back story, read X-Men Archives, on sale soon". That series reprinted New Mutants #26-28 and also X-Men #161 (the latter showed the first flashback with Magneto and Xavier in Israel after World War II, including the introduction of Gabrielle Haller).
- In X-Men #40, in an interlude cut entirely from the reprint, Wolverine starts a fight with Sabretooth; it's basically an advertisement for Wolverine #90.
- No footnote, but Magneto's history of suffering comes from various flashbacks like the one in the Classic X-Men #12.
- In this altered timeline, Legion is the second confirmed mutant that Xavier has encountered. Also no footnote, but the Shadow King, from the flashback in Uncanny X-Men #117, was the first. Xavier also recognizes adult time-traveling Storm from when he previously met her in that flashback.
- News reports during the fight between Legion and the X-Men say that it's similar to the time that "several mystery men" fought during the Six Day War. Seems like a reference (maybe to something in the Cable series?) but no footnote.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: X-Men: Legionquest