I have to give Zeb Wells, Mike Carey, Craig Kyle, Chris Yost, and Matt Fraction credit, in that after stopping the bad guys in last week’s issue of “X-Force,” we could’ve ended up with “X-Men: Second Coming” #2 being a lot of pointless epilogues. And don’t get me wrong, there is a lot of epilogue built into this issue. But for the most part, it’s also setting up the status quo for the mutant books and what we have coming up next, and that’s a smart tactic.
The first chapter, from “New Mutants” team Zeb Wells and Ibraim Roberson, is the one notable exception to the rule. Only Karma from the New Mutants makes a brief appearance, and it’s really more of a rundown of all the injuries that characters sustained during the crossover. (Well, except for poor Cypher, who despite being part of the New Mutants is nowhere to be seen in this chapter.) It’s too bad, because I think Wells and Roberson could have done a lot with this opportunity, but I suppose as low characters on the totem pole, they just couldn’t get allocated the space.
Mike Carey and Esad Ribic are up next, and their part goes a bit more smoothly. Carey’s able to work the final funeral of the crossover into his chapter, but at the same time it highly reflects on what’s to come in “X-Men: Legacy” for the near future. We get a nice mix of characters, Rogue’s new position within the X-Men is starting to shape up, and there are hints that Hope might be part of that book’s supporting cast. Considering the Rogue and Hope chapter of “Second Coming” worked well a few months ago, it’s a good idea. This part of the book has a solid script that balances the needs of the crossover with the needs of “X-Men: Legacy” perfectly. Ribic’s art doesn’t quite fit the styles of the other artists in this comic, but on its own it’s nice with its stark lines and beautifully patterned textures. Ribic seems to like characters randomly staring off into space, though; not only does Hope do so, but at the start of the funeral one of the younger students is gawking at Wolverine for no reason whatsoever. It’s an odd artistic choice that doesn’t seem to ever pay off.
Craig Kyle, Chris Yost, Greg Land, and Jay Leisten are next up, in what is nominally the X-Force chapter. With Kyle and Yost’s “X-Force” over and “Uncanny X-Force” scheduled for later this year, the two writers obligingly bridge the gap to explain why one team is over and a new one is starting. It’s an interesting set of pages, with the existence of X-Force fully out in the open and letting us get glimpses into the reactions of the other X-Men. It’s in many ways condemning and praising, simultaneously, the idea of the “X-Force” comic, letting even the readers take sides. It’s not so much an epilogue for “X-Men: Second Coming” as it is for “X-Force” itself, and I think in terms of a script it’s a fitting conclusion. On the other hand, Land’s pencils look so heavily photo-referenced it’s hard to ignore the strange sex-kitten pose Storm is in (while arguing with Wolverine no less), X-23’s unrecognizable appearance, or Cyclops having suddenly gained about 20 pounds in his face. It’s a mess, and there’s no way around it.
The book ends on a high note, though, as Matt Fraction, Terry Dodson, and Rachel Dodson use their pages to lead directly into the upcoming issues of “Uncanny X-Men.” The contents of “The Five Lights” storyline were hidden up until now, and reading this chapter I can see why. There’s a lot of great moments in this chapter, though; Namor and Beast’s confrontation makes me that much more eager to see what Fraction will do with Namor in the months to come, and the way Emma Frost describes how Hope is feeling is a perfect summation of the character’s position in the group. And as for the final page? It’s a great tease for what’s to come next, especially since it’s two pages earlier that most readers will initially think contains the big reveal. It’s a perfect way to end the crossover, and it’s nice to see some forward motion on an otherwise neglected subplot.
Did “Second Coming” work? I’d say most definitely yes. It had some slow spots in the middle, sure, but on the whole it held together strongly. Multi-title crossovers are more often than not a mess, and this is one of the few exceptions. I’d like to see no more crossovers for a while, but if they can all end this well, I’d be willing to turn a blind eye towards the next one.