While the first issue was largely a “New X-Men” epilogue, this second one features a slightly wider principal cast of Beast, Havok, and Forge, though Surge and Magik still have pieces in it which once again tie the title quite substantially in with “New X-Men”.
The opening story, focussing on Beast, is perhaps the most essential to appear in either issue of the limited series, nicely sending off the Mansion in an emotional context -ï¿½ï¿½” something that isn’t usually done, as the place tends to lurch immediately from destruction to repair and back again. It also serves to clear up the issue of what’ll happen to the X-Men’s advanced technology and vast records. While the idea of Beast cleaning all this up solo is perhaps slightly stretching it, the story is nonetheless the best of the bunch and actually serves to highlight the idea that the mansion is going to be gone for the foreseeable future.
This kind of character-and-continuity mixture was one of the X-Men’s hallmarks for decades, and Carey is obviously very enthusiastic about that element of the property because this is exactly the kind of story you used to see all the time. Carey’s obviously fairly interested in it, and if you’re a fan of what he’s doing in “X-Men: Legacy” you’ll certainly want to pick this up.
The second story about Illyana seems largely lost on those who haven’t followed her reappearance. She returns briefly to the destroyed remains of the mansion before deciding to stay in Limbo. While it appears to trail a future Magik story, it establishes little more than a holding pattern for the character to explain why she’s not currently doing anything more than waiting around. While it has probably the weakest writing in the book, the artwork from David Yardin is decent, especially his excellent version of Illyana’s demonic form.
Andy Schmidt, a former Marvel editor, returns as writer to put another character in a pre-return “holding pattern,” visiting Havok following his imprisonment at the end of the “Emperor Vulcan” miniseries. It’s a fairly bizarre choice that stretches the remit of the book ï¿½ï¿½”- after all, Havok and the Starjammers aren’t at all part of the “Divided We Stand” crossover and weren’t affected by the events of Messiah Complex. It’s a fairly straightforward plot — Vulcan sells Havok a pack of half-truths about the events of the crossover in an attempt to demoralize him, and instead ends up giving him hope for the future. Nothing too groundbreaking, but Frazer Irving’s artwork elevates the story above the average.
Duane Scwierzynski does another attempt at continuity plugging, this time for “Cable” (the series he writes, let’s not forget) showing Bishop in the act of stealing Forge’s bionics and time machine, and Forge’s resultant attempts to rebuild the technology. It’s a nice character piece for someone who usually turns up as little more than a plot device and provides a passable, if not great, reason for why no-one else is going to follow Cable and Bishop. The likelihood that Forge might turn up in the pages of “Cable” has me more than interested in the sort-of cliffhanger, which manages to generate some dramatic tension in what Forge might be up to.
The final story, the second from Cebulski, again returns to “New X-Men”‘s cast. While the series has been heavily weighted in favor of the “New X-Men” characters, Surge was always one of the more developed ones and, as such, this short carries more weight than before. Moonstar’s appearance here appears to lead into her “Young X-Men” appearance, so fans of that title might want to pick it up.
Despite the last minute attempt at a decent character piece, issue #2 of “X-Men: Divided We Stand” betrays the series as little more than continuity cleanup and is disappointing as a result. A little more focus on some of the bigger X-Men names would’ve actually been quite welcome. Never horrible, but it’s doubtful it’ll be fondly remembered down the line.