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Best Shots review: X-Men Legends #3 has charming interplay and twisted humor

X-Men Legends
(Image credit: Walter Simonson/Laura Martin/John Workman (Marvel Comics))

X-Men Legends continues the nostalgic highs in X-Men Legends #3. Featuring a story by Louise Simonson and Walter Simonson, X-Men Legends takes a look at the original X-Factor team. In a series meant to evoke nostalgia, X-Men Legends #3 definitely has the right ingredients.

X-Men Legends #3 credits

Written by Louise Simonson
Art by Walter Simonson and Laura Martin
Letters by John Workman
Published by Marvel Comics
'Rama Rating: 9 out of 10

Louise Simonson opens the issue with a brief flashback to Archangel's fight with Cameron Hodge. This opening adds some context to the placement of the story within the series. Frustratingly, while an editor's note indicates this story is to take place before X-Factor (1986) #43, as of this writing neither that issue nor the two that immediately precede it are available on either Marvel Unlimited or Comixology, meaning readers would have to buy a  collection containing them. While that isn't a knock against the comic itself, it does feel like it hurts the point of the series, which is to revisit past eras of the X-Men franchise. If today's readers can't easily access that connection point, the context for the story is somewhat lost.

(Image credit: Walter SImonson/Laura Martin (Marvel Comics))

Thankfully, the specifics aren't really required here. Louise Simonson's dialogue cracks with energy, and fans of the X-Men villain Apocalypse will be happy to see the character back in the hands of his co-creator. The scenes between Hodge and Apocalypse provide the comic with some twisted humor, which nicely balances the charming interplay between the heroes. These interweaving aspects are reflective of the book as a whole, which finds the character moments in the action beats.

These moments are all brought to the page by Walter Simonson's artwork, which is simply a delight to look at. There's a lot of drama, both subtle and overt, in the characters. Whether it's Apocalypse's exuberant yet menacing smile as he holds Cameron Hodge's wailing head for all to see, or the way Jean peeks knowingly over Scott's shoulder, Simonson's characters feel full of life. The action sequences are a treat as well. The climactic action scene in particular is made up of spectacular compositions as Simonson does away with clear panel demarcation, instead guiding the reader through the page visually as the battle progresses.

Color artist Laura Martin uses a less saturated palette than one might expect for a modern book, and it works well with the older designs of the X-Factor team, whose costumes are mostly cool tones. It also emphasizes some of the details and hatching in Simonson's illustrations. Martin pulls off some really subtle color effects, an example of which shows when Cyclops fires a pinpoint beam out of the corner of his visor to stop Ship from interrupting his kiss with Jean. Martin ever so slightly brings out the red in both Scott and Jean's faces reflecting both the beam and hinting at their passion. It's a little touch that adds visually to the moment. Bringing the whole look together are John Workman's letters, which are more variable in size and perfectly imperfect in their placement in the balloons.

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X-Men Legends

(Image credit: Walter Simonson/Laura Martin/John Workman (Marvel Comics))

X-Men Legends #3 preview

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X-Men Legends

(Image credit: Walter Simonson/Laura Martin/John Workman (Marvel Comics))
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X-Men Legends

(Image credit: Walter Simonson/Laura Martin/John Workman (Marvel Comics))

X-Men Legends #3 does a great job balancing character moments and action. While the specific context for when the story takes place may not be entirely accessible to readers, the issue itself does a great job of establishing the characters and creating an exciting and escalating conflict. Louise and Walter Simonson are experts of the craft, and though the nostalgia of seeing them on X-Factor again is a huge selling point, the fact that the execution is so strong is what makes the book a success.

Get ready for this and all the mutant stories with our constantly updated list of new X-Men comics, graphic novels, and collections in 2021 and beyond.

Robert Reed
Robert Reed

Robert is a Los Angeles-based comics journalist and writer (formerly Omaha, Nebraska). He currently writes for Newsarama and Adventures in Poor Taste.