Friday, August 31, 2012

Graphic Novel Review – X-Men: Second Coming

This is the second story I sought out after reading Avengers vs. X-Men: It’s Coming, the first issue of this crossover seemed action packed so it seemed worth my while to check it out, even if I haven’t been all that impressed with X-Men titles in recent years. I had read Messiah Complex (which was when Hope, the first Mutant born since House of M reduced their numbers to almost nothing) but wasn’t as impressed by it as so many other reviewers were – it felt a lot like X-Cutioners Song to me (which was a much better story). At the end of that story, Cable had taken the baby into the far future, to protect her from those who would try to kill her in our time.

Second Coming is exactly that – Hope’s return to our time. She is a teenager now and believes she had trained enough and is ready to face a world where the Mutants see her as a Messiah and some humans will stop at nothing to finish the mutant race once and for all. Once Hope and Cable show up on the mutant tracking computer called Cerebro, Cyclops sends out teams of X-Men to help them – but various mutant-hating groups have banded together under the Machine/Man known as Bastion, and they always seem one step ahead of the X-Men in reaching Hope and Cable first. The X-Men wind up with some serious fatalities before they realize it is Cable’s techno-organic virus that’s leading Bastion to Hope’s location – and her only hope is to get away from him and stay with the X-Men.

Meanwhile, Bastion and his forces have more in mind than just the death of this one new Mutant, they want to exterminate the rest of the race as well. He has found a way to create a barrier around the island in San Francisco bay where all the mutants are living, and within that barrier he has opened up a portal into a future. From that future waves of Sentinels start pouring into the present, and these armored robots succeeded in killing all the mutants in their own timeline so now it’s only a matter of time before they accomplish the same thing again.

As more mutants fall and all they can do is try and hold the line against this unstoppable foe, Cyclops sends a team into that future, a one-way suicide mission to stop those Sentinels before time runs out.

There’s almost too much going on in Second Coming. I think it involved every X-title, and it’s got to be at least 12 issues long. Some characters don’t get as much development as they probably should – there are lots of old foes of the X-Men gathering together at first, but instead of facing off against all of them, the X-Men are really left to defeat these futuristic Sentinels as well as Bastion himself in the end. Cameron Hodge has his moment against the New Mutants, but even that seemed to me a side story to the main one. So I think the book could have used a slightly tighter focus on Cable and Hope coming back, and then this ultimate battle – removing a few issues here and there to give it a better pace.

Still, it’s got tons of action, there’s a great scene near the beginning where the X-Men teleport into the middle of a car chase where the humans are after Cable and Hope – and the battle that ensues looks like something out of a blockbuster summer movie. The powers-that-be certainly picked some fan favorites to kill off in this event – including some of my own, but at this point death feels a little too meaningless in comics for it to really mean much to me – they’ve killed and brought back so many of my favorites that I just take it all in stride nowadays. Let me know if they’re not alive again in just a few years. There’s a lot of interesting foreshadowing of Avengers vs. X-Men in this comic event as well – the Avengers are fairly useless in trying to remove the barrier keeping the X-Men locked in, and I really could start to understand the desperation the mutants feel at being an endangered species. I feel like having read this gives me a nice foundation for the X-Men position leading into AvX.

At the same time, the X-Men still just isn’t the same book for me anymore – I was a huge fan from the mid-80s (around the Australia based team’s time) to the mid-90s (Age of Apocalypse) but nothing since then has really screamed “must read”. Perhaps I’ve just grown out of them a bit, I find my tastes have moved on to the Avengers now. Still, Second Coming is up there as far as X-Men books of recent years that I have enjoyed, a worthwhile read especially if you’re considering picking up the latest event, Avengers vs. X-Men.


PT Dilloway, Superhero Author said...

Ha ha, yeah in comic books and soap operas no one ever really "dies" because there's always some way to bring them back from the dead. That was just my twin! Or an android dupliate! Or me from the future! Or someone went back in the past and now I'm alive again! I mean come on they've "killed" Batman, Superman, Captain America, etc. and it never sticks.

Charles Gramlich said...

ooh, I'd probably like this one.

Melissa (My words and pages) said...

I was never really a graphic novel person growing up, my brother was huge with it. But now I'm older I'm starting to get into them. THanks for sharing this one, I might have to look into it. :D Thank you.