At the tail end of 2007, the Messiah Complex crossover told the story of the first mutant birth after M-Day. The child would eventually be named Hope, and after a fierce battle between the X-Men, Sinister’s Marauders and the mutant-hating Purifiers, she was rescued by Cable and sent into the future where she could grow up and fulfill her destiny of becoming mutantkind’s eventual saviour – or destroyer.
Pursued by the relentless Bishop, who comes from a future where mutantkind was massively damaged by Hope’s actions, Cable spirited Hope through time where the pair faced numerous battles and established only limited contact with the X-Men. It took 17 years for them to shake Bishop off, sending him into a distant, post-apocalyptic future with no time machine capable of returning. By the time their trip ends, Hope’s powers have manifested and she’s ready to take her place in the X-Men – but Cable, her “father” is old and injured, his body on the brink of destruction due to the physical stresses of a lifetime of temporal jumps. The last we saw of the pair, they had teleported back to the present.
X-Men: Second Coming #1 will show what happens next.
But not until tomorrow.
This article series, The Book of Hope, will cover the crossover each week, reviewing and deconstructing each instalment, offering commentary and speculation about the events within it. Warning – if you haven’t read the solicitations, there will be potential spoilers about which characters appear and/or survive – but otherwise, I’m speculating purely from material available to the public, not on rumours or leaks.
Right now, we only have a glimpse of the storyline, as offered by Mike Carey and Stewart Immonen in the giveaway comic X-Men: Second Coming Prelude.
The story shows “Roxie” (presumably Bling) getting a video-record of events two days after Cable and Hope return from the future – which presumably places it during the events of the crossover. She asks various characters the question “Where were you?” as she anticipates an end to mutantkind.
The first interviewee is Iceman, who describes himself as being “Here” – meaning “On Utopia” – a place he describes as “Sort of like the Alamo with an ocean view.” Although the danger indicated is grave, there’s little new information in this scene.
The next interview subject is Magneto, who replies that he was “Where I said I’d be. With the X-Men.” He reaffirms his commitment to the team, to the death – and with that comment, the camera pans to show the sheet-covered body of one of the X-Men. Is Magneto’s presense at the side of the body significant? If so, it points to two obvious possibilities for the dead X-Man – his old friend, Professor Xavier – who we can largely rule out, since he already “died” at the end of Messiah Complex” – and his former lover, Rogue.
Rogue is currently the star of X-Men Legacy, but a few things point to her potentially being a major player in Second Coming – not least her strange connection to Hope, who “cured” her death touch and psychosis during the events of Messiah Complex. That, and the fact that she only just gained control of her powers, suggests that she won’t die any time soon.
Interview Three is with Cannonball, who is watching over an injured (and apparently caucasian) team-mate in an operating theatre, who appears to be a member of the New Mutants, since he blames himself for their situation. X-Men: Second Coming – Hellbound is a companion miniseries which sees a team of X-Men journeying into Limbo after Magik. That suggests she might be the one on the operating table on this page.
The fourth interview is with Cable, who – along with Hope – is picking out weapons from a cache of guns. No new information – though it does telegraph in advance that Hope and Cable will make it to Utopia alive.
Next, Bling interviews Wolverine, who is initially mute, then angry about the death of his friend, which appears to be as a result of an X-Force mission gone awry. There are plenty of characters who haven’t appeared in the solicitations after the death – but Colossus does, and since he’s one of the few X-Men Wolverine might call “friend”, I’m going to say that it’s quite possibly Nightcrawler who dies.
Finally, an interview with a grave and reflective Cyclops, who reaffirms that he was “on the front line.” No new information.
And that, more or less, brings us up to date. But what would this article be without some wild speculation? Personally, I’m making the following predictions – but I’ll leave the explanation as to where these guesses came until the story’s over!
1. Hope will not be Jean Grey.
2. Nightcrawler will die. (“One will Fall”)
2. Magneto will take control of the X-Men. (“One will Lead”)
3. Bishop will return from the future and end up causing the “massacre” he attributes to Hope.
4. Cable will die – or at least, get lost in time (“One will Sacrifice”).
5. Jean Grey will appear, but not return permanently. (“One will Rise”)
Right. That all seems suitably improbable, doesn’t it? Make sure you’re back here soon for, er, Chapter One of this series.