In this latest book review from my reading nook here at The Cosmic Circus, I’m reviewing the novel that started the Marvel: Xavier’s Institute series, Liberty and Justice for All by Carrie Harris. In this introductory novel, two young students of the New Charles Xavier School go on a training mission. It’s their first time flying solo and it’s supposed to be a simple reconnaissance mission but then they receive a distress call. Answering that call ends up being more than they bargained for but the best way to learn is by doing!
[Note: While I am reviewing this novel independently and honestly, it should be noted that it has been provided to me by Aconyte for the purpose of this review. Warning: My review of Liberty and Justice for All contains some spoilers!]
A fledgling Xavier School feels stifling
In the aftermath of M-day, the New Charles Xavier School is struggling. It’s poorly funded and poorly staffed. Its enrollment is also low, very low. There just aren’t that many mutants around after the events of M-day. The ones that are around aren’t necessarily as powerful as they used to be.
Everyone is adjusting to the new world but it’s not the time to stop training. The new recruits train every day. They try to learn the limits of their powers, then push those limits. Working as a team is a lesson that doesn’t come easily but some of their teachers, like Emma Frost, have unconventional ways of teaching it.
New recruits, Christopher (a.k.a Triage) and Eva (a.k.a. Tempus) are trying to find their place in the mutant school. Eva is desperate to prove she is ready to be an X-Man and Christopher is desperate to prove that he belongs in the school. The two start to click in training and decide to team up for their first solo training flight.
An easy mission turns dangerous in Liberty & Justice for All
The mission starts out routinely enough. The two take off without incident and input the coordinates for their destination into the autopilot, then they just sit back and wait to get there. About two hours later, they’re closing in on their target. Suddenly a distress call comes in over the radio. Sabertooth is injured and begs for their help. The signal is full of static and cuts out before they can get more than his general location, the Grace Museum. By coincidence, Grace Museum is their target. They’re right there. What should they do?
Christopher is nervous and wants to radio the school for further instructions but Eva wants to prove she has what it takes to be an X-Man without their instructor’s help. They argue, but in the end, Eva wins. They lie to Cyclops, saying something is stuck on their skids and they need to clear it. Then they head out to find Sabertooth. Eva’s plan is to grab him up, head to the school, and receive their commendations. Quick, easy, nice.
Of course, nothing is ever quick, easy, or nice. Their improvised rescue mission sees them go from bad to worse and then go more downhill. Will they be able to work as a team and save Sabertooth, his companion, and themselves? Or will they end up being the ones that need rescuing?
A mutant coming-of-age story
Liberty & Justice for All is about learning who you are and finding the confidence to be who you want to be. It’s a coming-of-age story from the mutant point of view. Teenagers should especially enjoy the story and empathize with Eva and Christopher.
Eva is so ready to be a full X-Men. She is certain that she knows everything she needs to take on a real mission. And that overconfidence gets her and Christopher into a very dangerous situation. Eva begins to doubt herself when the situation gets worse, but she is determined to do the right thing no matter how hard it is. That strong moral compass helps to bring her back to herself. Eventually, she realizes that she doesn’t know everything yet, and that’s okay! But she does know a lot and she can use what she knows to save the day.
Christopher is more cautious than Eva. He isn’t even sure he truly belongs at the new school. His healing abilities are useful but they don’t feel heroic, like freezing time or controlling machines. He feels somewhat useless, just the guy who cleans up the heroes, not the hero himself. But during his and Eva’s mission gone awry, he learns that healing powers are extremely important and that he’s more than just a power anyway. As the stress goes up, Christopher proves his worth in a multitude of ways. No one will ever question if he is a hero or if he should be an X-Men ever again, including him.
Liberty & Justice for All is great for all, but especially for teens
Carrie Harris once again pens a great story. The characters are fun and real. The action is intense but not in a way that leaves you feeling drained. Harris keeps an element of fun in all the scenes. I mean how many superheroes fight off a T-rex?! That might sound ridiculous but Harris writes the scene in a way that keeps it exciting and tense instead of goofy.
While adults can enjoy all the excitement in Liberty and Justice for All, I think that teens will especially relate to the story. They are trying to find their place in the world just like Eva, and they’re trying to build confidence just like Christopher. Being in the same place as these mutants will make the story that much more poignant for teens. Or for anyone who is still trying to figure out what they can do and where they want to do it (hand way up in the air!).
Liberty & Justice for All is the kind of story that ages well and stays relevant as we are all just trying to believe in ourselves enough to truly be ourselves.
My Rating: 8/10
Liberty & Justice For All is available now! Have you read it? Let us know on Twitter or in the Cosmic Circus Discord. And if you haven’t already, check out this other review of a Carrie Harris Novel, Witches Unleashed!