Thursday, April 29, 2010
Second Coming: X-Force #26 - Bloody and Awesome
The wave of awesome just keeps coming with X-men Second Coming. This past week the fifth part in the crossover was released and Marvel has been teasing that this is where a major character dies. Some will recall that someone already died in the previous issue, Ariel, but that wasn't a character that would send shockwaves through the X-men universe. The emotional loss in this story doesn't just send shockwaves. It sends a comet of awesome into the furthest depths of the ocean and kicks up a tsunami so rich with awesome that people and animals would line up as the shores just to be overtaken by it.
Like all the previous parts, X-Force #26 moved seamlessly from the previous issue of X-men Legacy. Once again, it's worth pointing out how smooth these transitions are. This is a new standard in crossovers where the move from one issue to another feels so easy it might as well be named it's own book. For all we know that's what the Marvel writers intended all along. I would be willing to bet a steak dinner that this was proposed, but thrown out for cost cutting measures (keep in mind they're on Disney's dollar now). Whatever they intended, the finished product is truly uncanny.
The action picks up just after the X-men's communication link with Utopia was shut down by Bastion. This leaves Cable and the rest of the Alpha team to fight off Bastion's forces while Nightcrawler and Rogue try to get Hope to Utopia as fast as possible. The action is very well scripted for the Alpha Team. The readers are even treated to the always popular Fastball Special, only this time it involves Psylocke launching X-23 towards a flying fighter jet. It is essentially a case study proving that anything that is well-done by men can be made infinitely hotter when performed by two hot women.
While the Alpha Team fights on, Nightcrawler and Rogue come face to face with Bastion himself in Las Vegas. It seems appropriate that a guy as evil as Bastion would launch his attack in a place nicknamed "Sin City." The fight that ensues is epic. Rogue, flushed with the powers of pretty much every X-men she could find, took on Bastion and beat on him in ways that would make Mystique herself proud. But Bastion being Bastion does like many Las Vegas hookers and not go down easily. He is able to fight off Rogue despite all her power and go for Hope. Her response? She tries to hit him over the head with a metal pipe. That's basically as effective as one would expect it to be. In other words it was stupendously stupid.
That's when it happens. Just as Bastion goes for Hope, Nightcrawler makes his move. He teleports to her and in the process Bastion picks up on it. He ends up appearing between him and Hope with Bastion's arm sticking right through his body. It essentially confirms what Marvel has done a piss poor job keeping secret. Nightcrawler is the one to die.
It's a powerful moment. The man who criticized Cyclops the most for his tactics with X-Force ends up making the ultimate sacrifice. He in this one panel shows that his balls are bigger than even Cyclops could ever dream. It's the kind of badassery that makes Emma Frost's panties wet. But Nightcrawler wasn't done. Despite having a freakin' ARM lodged in his torso, he takes a page straight from Braveheart and summons the strength he needs to teleport Hope away from Bastion and onto the shores of Utopia. Hope is understandably moved and probably turned on as much as Emma would have been (she is 17 after all).
What happens next is a tribute to the art of Mark Choi. The X-men return to Utopia and gather around the rescued Hope, only to see that they've lost one of their own. It's one of those moments in comics where no words or dialogue is needed. Everything is conveyed in the expressions of the characters. It's the ultimate "nuff said" moment. It's a fitting way to end the fight to get Hope back to Utopia and with the X-men.
RIP Nightcrawler. You are truly an X-man worthy of badass legend.
But as awesome and heartfelt as Nightcrawler's sacrifice was, this does lead to some plot holes in the issue. For one, most X-fans know that Nightcrawler's teleportation range is two miles. He can't go further than that. Yet suddenly with an arm lodged in his chest he can go from Vegas to Utopia, which is hundreds of miles away in San Francisco bay? That may be very awesome, but it's also stretching the fabric of comic reality. There were also some holes in the time that's been elapsed. How did the team link up so quickly? The time flow is messed up a bit here and it's not as smooth as previous issues.
Those criticisms, however, are completely eclipsed by the sheer awesome of the issue as a whole. Craig Kyle and Chris Yost keep the Second Coming awesomeness going full throttle and their X-Force style blends perfectly with the events in this crossover. It basically took them five issues to get Hope from Westchester to Utopia. They probably could have spent the whole crossover doing this, but they made it just as long as it needed to be. Now comes the next step. They have Hope. Now what?
I've still been disappointed thus far that nobody has commented how Hope looks like another redhead they know and love and shares her dress sense. Now that the fighting as stopped, maybe they'll finally bring it up. They better because that would be a plot hole big enough to drive a fleet of Hummers through. There is also the aftermath of Nightcrawler's death they have to deal with. How will they cope? What will this do to the team? It leaves so much to look forward to that readers may have a heart attack from the awesome that now clogs their system.
Overall, this issue gets yet another 5 out of 5, a 10 out of 10, and an A-plus. Second Coming isn't just starting out strong. It's starting out flawlessly. If it were a diamond it would be on display in a museum and Ocean's Eleven would have stolen it by now. That's how great it is. Bring on the next part! Second Coming is still awesome and is shaping up to be the best X-men story in a long time. Nuff said.