Thursday, July 15, 2010

Second Coming #2 - The Final Verdict in Awesome

Well my scanner is up and running and as promised, I have for comic fans everywhere a full review of the last chapter of the Second Coming crossover. I know that for the last few issues I've been pretty negative if not fatalistic. The last few parts of Act III have been sub-par at best and downright laughable at worst. There were times I was so cynical I started making phone calls to the Vatican for consultations on whether or not the demon Craptastica had possessed the X-men writers at Marvel.

This was a major disappointment given how awesome the first two acts were. My biggest concern came in X-Force #28 when Hope finally showed her true power and it was not clear if this was Phoenix potential or if it was just a ruse. Well as my previous post indicated, it was no ruse. For once, Marvel followed through at least in part and it certainly helps give Second Coming a fitting ending to cap off a crossover for the ages.

But is it truly awesome on the same caliber as Blackest Night? Was it worth the years of build-up going all the way back to House of M and Messiah Complex? Well to determine that, we have to put the final piece into the puzzle and that's where X-men Second Coming #1 comes in. It's not written by just one writer. Basically, all the X-writers from Craig Kyle and Chris Yost to Mike Carey, Matt Fraction, and Zeb Wells contributed their own parts. The first one starts off predictably in that it picks up right where X-Force #28 left off with Hope hovering ominously over the X-men. She's still reeling from her bout with Bastion, but rather than cast any more ominous hints of her power she just collapses and curls up to the last surviving piece of her father...his arm. Yeah, that's a nice momento. A guys cybernetic arm. Only in Marvel can that make sense without first taking a bong hit.

When Hope wakes up, she's in the infirmary with all the other injured mutants. We get a glimpse of many who suffered some heavy blows during the fight with Bastion, most notably Colossus who had his freakin' arm broken when he was in metal form. To reset it, Beast has to apply 50 tons of force. Now normally infirmary scenes are about as eventful as watching golf on heroin. But this definitely spices it up a bit. Northstar, Iceman, and Karma all have their moments with Karma getting sexy new artificial leg. Because let's face it. Nothing is more sexy than a Vietnamese lesbian with a cybernetic leg. I'm pretty sure that's a fetish in certain parts of Japan.

The most notable scene, however, is Hope since much of this takes place from her perspective. She's lying in a bed next to Magneto and doesn't remember squat about wielding all that power (the phrase dodging the issue comes to mind). The two share some words and once again Magneto proves that he's still the creepiest old man in the Marvel universe in the way he talks to her. He says it's good to be thought of as dangerous. Only a guy like Magneto can say that and not seem completely fucked up. At least he doesn't make a pass at her. He's still working over Rogue, remember?

Hope continues to be the center of the story as there comes a brief flashback showing Hope and Cable in the future together. Hope is showing what should be genuine concern that Cable is being too reckless and could end up getting himself killed. Cable being Cable, he has to do the whole macho act and say she's not getting rid of him that easy. Is it ironic? Or a hint that maybe Cable will rear his head again soon? Death is somewhat a revolving door in the Marvel Universe. Hell, they brought back Bucky Freakin' Barns for crying out loud! This scene does little to indicate that policy has been voided.

But as laughable it may be, it does take a turn for the serious as a funeral scene is held for Cable. In this Cyclops probably shows more emotion than he has since Jean "died" (don't get me started on death and Jean Grey). He can't even say any words about his son. It's very fitting because one of the knocks on Cyclops is that he seems so comfortable making all these decisions and looking as stoic as Mount Rushmore in the process. Anybody who knocks him for this scene deserves to have rectal surgery done on them by retard with Parkinsons. It's a powerful moment and while Cyclops can't say his words, Hope certainly can and she gives a very meaningful speech about who Cable was and why he did what he did. If this doesn't strike an emotional chord you're either a sociopath or a robot.

Even though her speech was very sweet, Hope is still looked upon with suspicion. In fact, some of the New Mutants see her as basically a manifestation of every mutant. It's an interesting theory that would make her more than just a mimic as has often been theorized by her latest Wikipedia entry. But it can't be easy being an outcast in a group of other outcasts. What's even harder is that the one person she does seem to get along with, Rogue, ends up getting chewed out by Cyclops after the funeral. He's still not happy about her letting Hope join the battle against Bastion. Granted, it did end up saving the day and probably the lives of everyone in San Francisco, but he just can't let it go and has to be a prick about it. So that emotionality from the funeral is quickly replaced by a dick move of demoting Rogue. Yeah, guess they couldn't get completely away from what makes Cyclops the lovable jerk that's had to make some pretty shitty decisions.

While Hope is still the focus, she doesn't dominate every scene. The book does take time to cover other major characters and you know it's not a valid X-men comic if you don't show one scene with Wolverine and beer. He probably comes off with the most normal way of coping and wouldn't you know it? Storm joins him. Again, that's like finding a winning lottery ticket in your underwear drawer because Storm has been in and out of the X-men comics the same way Charlie Sheen is in and out of anger management. She reveals that she confronted Cyclops about X-Force and basically laughed. She didn't look kindly on their mission to say the very least, but Logan makes no apologies. This is a guy who's probably never put the toilet seat down so it should come as no surprise, but Storm keeps giving him more reasons to drink. She makes the old 'no better than our enemies' argument and implies it's going to be difficult for them to be friends anymore. It seems to be giving Marvel all the more reasons to keep her out of X-men and in any lame ass comic with Wakanda. Any fan of Storm should probably take a moment to puke up their last three meals before moving on.

Remarkably, Wolverine does much more than just drink away his sorrows in this issue. He does show he can work well semi-sober if he has to. He does this by confronting X-23, who he never wanted in X-Force to begin with. He basically tells her to leave and isn't very nice about it either. He says to stop listening to orders and just run out. Given that Logan is kind of like a parent to her, that's akin to your father suggesting you run away. It's fucked up, but it kind of works in a twisted way. X-23 has been falling into old habits and doesn't seem to know how to live any other way. She even admits this. But Logan has to be a jerk about it in order to get the point across. X-23 needs to spend time away from the X-men's battles, thus setting the stage for her upcoming mini-series. Considering every other X-23 mini has been awesome as hell, that's probably the most noble thing Wolverine has done since he decapitated Xorneto.

Not one to settle for less, Wolverine tries going three for three and confronts Cyclops about X-Force. The two men still talk like they're always ready to rip each others' heads off and this is no exception. Logan basically tells Cyclops to forget about X-Force and wash his hands clean. He's too much a pretty boy to be getting caught up in these kinds of missions. Even though Cyclops listens to Wolverine about as much as DMX listens to the police, he does take a hint for once and basically walks away from X-Force.

Does this meant he team is dissolved? In a word...fuck no! This just sets the stage for a new era in X-Force. But it isn't just any X-Force. It's Uncanny X-Force. Yeah, Marvel clearly doesn't have a thesaurus handy, but it still sounds pretty fucking sweet. We even get a brief glimpse of the new lineup and the rules are simple. Nobody, not even Cyclops, can know about it. To make them even more awesome, the new members include Deadpool and everybody is packing heat. It's like X-men mixing with old rap videos and it feels so good.

While the thought of another X-Force comic wets the appetite of X-fans everywhere, this is quickly balanced out by the next scene that shows Beast leaving yet again. Now at this point that's understandable, but considering Marvel already made a big deal about this nearly a year ago in Uncanny the whole moment loses it's weight. Beast goes off on the tired old rant that Cyclops has crossed too many moral lines. He may be right, but he still sounds like a fucking douche-bag because seriously. What were the alternatives? Nobody seems to pose that question and somehow Beast can hold his head high like he's fucking Bono from U2. He and Namor share a few words and then he's off, heading back to the Avengers. While it may upset some, given his attitude it's probably for the better.

After Beast's departure, the next scene is the one that I made such a big deal of yesterday. Beast leaves and Emma ventures off to check on Hope, but what she sees is enough to make her fake boobs sag. She not only sees Hope giving her this sinister-looking grin that cries "I have red hair and green eyes so you better watch your fucking back Frost!" she also sees a manifestation of the Phoenix Force. Given the kind of power she wielded in X-Force #28, this essentially confirms Emma's suspicions and that of the reader. Hope and the Phoenix Force are connected. Those teasers weren't bullshit for once. Given Emma's rough history with the Phoenix in Endsong and Warsong, it's probably her only powerful moment in Second Coming. Coupled with a flashback to the Sisterhood arc where she saw Jean and Phoenix in a vision, and this may set the stage for another cosmic level story. It doesn't answer the questions about Hope being Jean or where she came from, but it does offer a compelling clue for once.

Emma probably looks more freaked out here than she has in over a decade of comics. So she runs off to tell Cyclops. Given her disdain for redheads, she could very well surgically attach herself to him for good measure. But before she can even start shaking in her panties (which granted would be pretty hot for her), Cyclops makes a startling revelation. His faith in Hope has been rewarded. Cerebra has just detected five new mutant signatures. M-Day has been undone. The mutant race is no longer doomed to extinction. It's taken half a decade of comics, but it's finally happened and it's about fucking time.

The only problem with this is there is no fucking explanation for how it happened. Did Hope's Phoenix flare fix it? Did something happen off panel? What the fuck? The smartest men in the Marvel universe struggled to undo M-Day and suddenly it's just been lifted without an explanation? Granted, it doesn't come completely out of nowhere, but a little clue would have been nice. It does set up the next arc "The Five Lights" but is really light on the details and because of that, it's a ridiculously contrived ending even if it is fitting.

So where does this leave the issue and Second Coming as a whole? This comic is certainly awesome in the sense that it sets up so many compelling stories and gives some confirmation to all the teasers about Hope having a Phoenix connection. It's also very compelling on an emotional level in that it shows Hope and Cyclops struggling with the death of Cable and all the mutants of Utopia rebuilding after the attack. In this sense it's very well-crafted. However, all this setup comes at the cost of leaving a few too many loose ends.

While I'm glad the issue didn't nix the Phoenix connection to Hope or disprove the possibility that she has a Jean Grey connection (which actually seems more likely now), it failed to establish what Hope did to undo M-Day. I mean that was supposed to be the point of her return, wasn't it? She's the mutant messiah who is supposed to revitalize the entire mutant race. She appeared to succeed in that five new mutant signatures were shown at the end, but where the fuck did it happen? And how? That's one plot point that shouldn't be left dangling. It takes away from the serious meaning of this event, which was to close the door on M-Day and start the X-men on a new course. Even if they did that off panel, it does leave a plot hole that can't be ignored. It's akin to a disaster movie where a killer asteroid is heading towards Earth, but despite all the plans to stop it the damn thing just blows itself up in the end.

Never-the-less, the crossover was full of all the action and drama that make a story great. There was a lot to love about Second Coming and when it comes out in hardback, I'll definitely be the first to pick it up. But compared to other crossovers, it simply doesn't measure up to the billing of being the biggest X-men event in decades. It's still awesome, but not worth using those kinds of superlatives. This issue itself gets a 4.5 out of 5 and the crossover as a whole gets a 4 out of 5. It's definitely right up there in terms of Marvel events, but it's definitely no Blackest Night. It had a chance to be, but fell short because of a few vital details.

So it's official! Second Coming is over and it was pretty darn awesome! Now a new era in X-men can begin. We've got Uncanny X-Force, a new generation of mutants, and the looming presence of the Phoenix Force. If none of that gets you excited, have someone push you down a flight of stairs! This is a great time to be an X-men fan and we would all be wise to soak it up in all it's savory awesomeness! Nuff said.


  1. Also it should be noted that in the flashback scene Cable referred to Hope as Red, 'Redd' was the name used to refer to Jean in the Askani Son mini-series (an awesome series!). Just thought i'd mention it.

  2. Yes, that was not lost on me either and I don't think that's the first time Hope has been called that. Plus, that was a nickname Logan often used with Jean and even Scott called her that a few times. It's one thing to make Hope look like Jean and have Phoenix powers. It's another to give her the same nickname. That's why I think it would be foolish to NOT make Hope some sort of incarnation of Jean Grey. They've set up too many hints to indicate this and I hope Marvel doesn't stoop to that level (even though they're not above doing so). Hope would be a very novel way of Jean coming back. Having to go through childhood again and coming of age in the future would be an awesome way to give her some new dimensions. It's all a matter of Marvel following through. Fingers crossed!

  3. I'm just hoping that this whole scenario was used as a way to remove the Mary-Sue imagery assocuated with Jean :) Fingers crossed as well.

  4. I agree. This would be a great way to give Jean Grey some depth. I never agreed with the notion that she was too goody goody. She had her share of issues to say the very least and she made her share of mistakes. Hope's contributions could really add some new dimensions for her character and I hope that when Jean does come back, this plays a huge part.

    But that's assuming Marvel will do what makes the most sense and that's always a dangerous assumption. Marvel has brought back the likes of Steve Rogers and Bucky Barnes yet they're painfully adverse to Jean Grey. Because of Hope's appearance and history, it's impossible to disassociate her from Jean. If they try to make her a Jean replacement, then that's just an insult to both characters.