Thursday, July 8, 2010
X-men Second Coming: X-Force #28 - Cosmic Awesome
Yesterday, I blogged that I had read spoilers of X-Force #28 online and found out that the moment X-fans have been waiting for (and I have been bitching about) has finally happened. Second Coming has finally started to answer the questions it was supposed to answer. Who is Hope Summers? What are her powers? What about all the hints of Phoenix and Jean Grey? I'm been pulling my hair out and soaking my brain with elephant tranquilizer waiting for this to come out! Finally, X-Force #28 has come along to allow me to throw away my drug stash and get high off the sheer awesome of this book.
It's true. Hope does finally show some firepower and that firepower has a very cosmic feel to it. It's the kind of power that has the potential to undo M-Day and complete this story that Marvel has been dragging out for far too long. It's almost strange how it doesn't really begin with a bang either. It begins with a lame shot of all the other Marvel heroes who are trying to break the dome. They're basically wasting their time. They might as well be twiddling their thumbs and playing with themselves because they aren't going to partake in this awesome plot. It's all X-men.
The action then picks up where X-men Legacy left off. On the final page of the previous issue, Cable let the TO-virus take over his body so he could enter the time gate that was allowing the Nimrod sentinels to pass through and hold it open so the rest of X-Force could return to the present. Now I have no fucking clue what the physics are behind this. If this gate was supposed to prevent non-biological entities from crossing over, how the hell is holding it up changing that? I'm sure Stephen Hawkings would be keeling over in his wheelchair, but for whatever reason this contrived little ploy works and X-Force returns from the craptastic future of Days of Futures Past.
But once everybody's through, that still leaves one person. Cable is now all TO virus and looking pretty butt ugly in the process I might add. It's hard to tell if he's even trying to come through or if he's already given in. But somehow he manages to actually smile, which makes him a front runner for the creepiest damn smile in the history of the universe, before he blows up. Yep, that's the end of Cable. The man blows up and makes the ultimate sacrifice for Hope. It's a powerful moment, but one you would have to be brain damaged to not see coming.
It's a sad moment for Hope, but it's not the last we see of Cable. There's a brief flashback showing him and Hope huddled around a campfire with Hope asking when she'll be ready. Seeing as how Cable is about as clueless as the many X-fans out there who have been speculating about what this girl is supposed to do, he just says she'll know when it happens. Yeah, that's really clear. Nice parenting Cable. I think some specifics really couldn't hurt, but at least be a little more tactful about it. As touching as the scene was, the exchange itself was fucking bland.
Ready or not, Hope has to measure up soon because Bastion has been waiting in the wings ready to finish the job if his army of Nimrod sentinels fails. Now granted, it should be a bad sign when an army of Nimrod sentinels fail you. Even Bastion should know that. But the man's a machine and he's not capable of shitting his pants. Shitting bolts, maybe. But not real shit. So he chooses to jump into the battle and take on Hope, who he senses is the key to everything. As if everybody else didn't already know that.
With Bastion closing in, it's kind of a bad time for Hope to be throwing a hissy fit. But she just watched Cable explode and all that's left is his arm. I think she's a little bit entitled for once, but just barely. Again, she tells Cyclops she hates him. Seriously, join the club. The man has been making enemies for years now. Considering the fact that Nathan was his son, you would think Hope would have some understanding. It's not like Cyclops comes off as cold, but he doesn't come off as very emotional either. It makes him seem like that much more of a dick.
Again, it's a scene that already played out in the previous issue. Only this time Hope doesn't make that same fucked up face that still haunts my dreams to this day. Mike Choi is a lot more tactful about it and Craig Kyle and Christ Yost have a bit more subtlety in that regard. It's a much needed shift from the declining quality of the previous books and it's a good thing too because what happens next can't be made subtle no matter how awesome your writing is. Bastion has finally entered the battle again and damn it if that bucket of bolts doesn't know how to make an entrance.
In one burst the guy manages to damage half the golden gate bridge and send the X-men falling into the bay. It's pretty impressive firepower, which kind of makes me wonder why he didn't throw this shit into the mix when he had an army of fucking Nimrod Sentinels backing him up. Seriously, why do you wait until you're out of manpower to make a move like this? It just seems fucking stupid. Whatever his bullshit, he does manage to confront Hope. She's the only one who managed to stay dry, except now she's in even deeper shit.
Bastion shows up looking ready to unload. He's got two wingmen with him and again it's a pretty awesome shot by Mike Choi. This issue more than any other sets him apart as THE artist for Second Coming. His style fits better than any previous artist and considering this event has drawn some of the biggest names at Marvel, that's saying something. I found myself looking at this page an extra minute or so just to take in the sheer beauty of the art. But I couldn't linger for too long because a big moment lies just ahead.
That's right! It finally happens here! Hope stops flashing these ominous hints that have become more bullshit than ominous for the past few years and finally shows the power that's supposed to heal the mutant race. It's not very subtle either. The nature of Hope's powers are essentially confirmed to be that of a mimic. She can utilize the powers of those around her which include Armor's energy armor, Cyclops's optic blasts, and Colossus's metal skin. It's an impressive feat and probably the only ability that makes sense of all the conflicting clues as to what she can do since the early days of Messiah Complex. It looks pretty fucking awesome too, which is always a plus.
Then it happens. The moment that was hinted and teased at on more than one occasion finally happens for real this time and not because the reader took too much LSD before reading this (although it does add green monsters to the mix if you're curious). Hope Summers unleashes her Phoenix potential. A familiar fiery aura overtakes her and it seems to give her the extra boost she needs to bitch slap Bastion back to being a D-list villain. For anyone who has any appreciation of the Phoenix mythos in X-men, this should bring a big ass smile to your face. If it doesn't, peel your face off with a fucking meat cleaver because you don't deserve to have one anymore.
When the X-men pull themselves together and see this, they're understandably deadpanned. They know they're up shit's creek without a paddle or a boat for that matter when they see Hope wielding Phoenix level power. Emma is especially peeved. This woman has been at the receiving end of some pretty heavy pwnage from the Phoenix and add to the fact that Hope has red hair and green eyes, she has every reason to start pissing herself. For all we know that's exactly what she's doing when Cyclops goes after Hope.
He doesn't get very far though. Before anyone can even begin to make sense of the bullshit that's unfolding before them, Hope kicks it into overdrive and unleashes a blast that would make Michael Bay jizz in his pants. In one single burst Hope annihilates Bastion and shatters the red dome covering San Francisco. It seems kind of like a Deus Ex Machina move, but when Phoenix powers are involved it's the awesome kind of Deus Ex Machina. It also helps that it looks fucking awesome as hell and Mike Choi deserves an award courtesy of the ghost of Da Vinci and Michelangelo for that shot. It's by far the best in the series thus far. It only took 13 chapters to get to this point and it was worth the wait.
It seems like the end. But there's still one teeny tiny issue. Hope is still going full Phoenix and with this kind of power, that's almost as bad as 100 Bastions hopped up on crystal meth. There's also a spotty scene transition here. Somehow Hope and the X-men go from the Golden Gate Bridge back to Utopia and somewhere in between there was an awkward ride in. Seriously, when the fuck did that happen? Did they all recover, rejoin on Utopia, and gather around just so the could stare deadpanned at Hope while she's hovering in mid-air in a classic Phoenix pose? I'm guessing something happened, but whatever it was Choi didn't show it. I could cry foul here, but because it looks so awesome I'll give it a pass.
So that's it. There's only one issue left to resolve Hope's powers and the Phoenix. There's also that little matter of undoing M-Day, but because of the damn solicitations and Marvel's piss poor tendency for spoilers we already know that shit's going to be undone. So I guess all that's left is to answer these questions about Hope, the Phoenix, and her powers. It would be a perfect way to tie up all the loose ends and seal this crossover as one of the most awesome in the history of X-men.
However, I do have some reason to be skeptical. For one, the spoilers I read earlier seemed to indicate that Hope manifested the Phoenix without much room for ambiguity. Well here, nobody even says the word Phoenix or implies that this is what is happening. Granted, Hope's aura does look like a classic Phoenix manifestation and there are some moments when it takes on the shape of the cosmic parrot itself. But it's not a very clear shape. It's not as cleanly described as it's been shown in covers and in teaser art. That leaves the terrible possibility that this whole stunt Hope pulled might NOT be the Phoenix Force after all and just some uber power manifestation made to look like it. If that's the case and it turns out that EVERY teaser was bullshit after all, then this crossover is fucked worse than Lindsey Lohan. I'm on my knees praying to Odin right now hoping Marvel doesn't pull some bullshit like that. There's still an issue left and if someone just utters the word Phoenix that will be enough.
One more thing that's still not being addressed is Jean Grey. Hope just pulled a stung that only Jean Grey was capable of in the past and STILL nobody notices how she looks and carries herself?! If in the final issue there isn't so much as a thought bubble then that would be another epic failure almost on par with making the Phoenix a ruse. There's still no indication of who Hope is and where she came form. Her being an incarnation of Jean Grey would make perfect sense of everything, but if that's not what happens then the awesome of this series is extremely hurt. You don't drop that many hints just to fuck with people. It's not being cute. It's being a fucking asshole.
There's one issue left, but X-Force #28 has gone above and beyond to rescue what had been a lame Act 3. This issue was fucking awesome from cover to cover and for that it gets a 5 out of 5. However, that score will change if it turns out this Phoenix crap wasn't Phoenix. That should become clear with the final issue. Second Coming has the potential to be a truly awesome crossover, but that awesomeness depends on how they tie up all these loose ends.