Most of the first half of “Second Coming,” the three-month long crossover running through the X-Men family of titles, was a fairly punchy, engaging story. The major architects of the story were smart to keep it as a chase across the country, because it automatically let them amp up the tension as Cable and Hope scrambled to avoid the bad guys while the X-Men tried to defend the returning heroes even as their numbers dropped. Now that everyone’s in one spot, Bastion and company are unleashing the rest of their plan. The problem is, base-under-siege doesn’t hold that same punch, and “Second Coming” is starting to feel like a story that’s slowing down.
That’s not to say it’s a bad issue of “X-Men Legacy.” There are some nice bits peppered throughout the comic, as a matter of fact. Cyclops seems to finally have an ounce of tactical skill, figuring out (a tiny bit too late) what’s going on with Bastion’s attempts to contain the mutants, and thinking all the ramifications through of the sphere that’s cutting them off from the rest of the world. It’s also nice to see the scope of the story expand a bit, from Utopia to the San Francisco Bay area. And of course, there’s even some surprise guest stars whose appearance makes perfect sense. All of those little moments have a level of fun about them, and Mike Carey follows those plot points through well.
On the whole, though, the issue is more about the X-Men reacting rather than acting, and watching as more bad guys are pushed onto the board. There’s remarkably little interaction between the X-Men and the bad guys (although presumably that’s about to change next issue), and while it makes tactical sense for Bastion and company to be directing all of this from afar, on a dramatic level it’s boring. And after Cable and Hope made it to Utopia, the pace on a whole has ramped down. To justify its three-month length (plus opening and closing chapters), more needs to start happening and soon.
Greg Land and Jay Leisten’s art is predictable and on form with their earlier work. Land’s blatant photo references remain as distracting as ever, to the point that tight close-ups on some characters are actually a little confusing because they don’t look recognizable due to a lack of their own, familiar faces. When he breaks free of them it’s not quite so bad–he’s actually doing a nice job on what little action there is in this issue–but post-“Second Coming” I’d be happier if Terry and Rachel Dodson took over “Uncanny X-Men” full time. At the end of the day, this issue’s art is just like the rest of it; all right, but getting a little predictable and tired. Here’s to some more pep in the remaining chapters.