This week! Because no-one else will talk about X-Men with me: Chapter Eight of our look at the current X-Men crossover, Second Coming. Click behind the cut to read more!
Synopsis: The issue opens with the X-Club managing to leap off Bastion’s oil rig just in time to watch it explode. Meanwhile, Cable and Hope discuss whether she was indeed ready to come to the present. More explosions alert the X-Men to the fact that they are under attack, and suddenly a giant bubble forms over Utopia – and much of San Francisco. The X-Men are unable to penetrate it, and Cyclops realises the truth – almost the entire species has been penned in. Bastion announces to his allies that it’s time to begin the final phase of his plan. The X-Men head to investigate a light that has appeared nearby, while Cable remains behind with Hope, and offers to transport her into the future to safety. Outside the bubble, the X-Club attempt to penetrate it, and the Avengers turn up. Thor attempts to break through the barrier using Mjolnir, but – for now – it doesn’t work. Back inside, Hope decides to stay and fulfil her destiny, while the X-Men discover what the light is – it’s a portal. And out spill a group of ultra-deadly Nimrod sentinels.
Mini Review: Carey’s second issue of the crossover is much better than his last one, and after a couple of issue’s worth of water-treading, a lot of stuff actually happens in this one. The story’s still a bit choppy, but leaving out the New Mutants has given the characters that ARE around a bit more leeway. Carey writes a particularly good Bastion, and I enjoy his take on the Avengers too. It’s got Bendis’ tone, but not his dialogue tics. Land’s artwork is a little better than it normally is, but this is not to say that I think it’s fantastic – just that his worst excesses aren’t present on every page. So that’s a plus.
Okay, so the issue opens with the tail end of that scene from last week:
Which begs the question: what the hell is supposed to be in Second Coming Revelations: Blind Science? The bit where they run from the bomb to the outside of the oil rig? I’m all for tie-in spin-offs but please…let them have a point. I suppose we’ll find out soon, anyway, since the issue comes out the week after this chapter (and boy, was THAT good timing. Surely the same week would have made more sense?)
When people accuse Greg Land of “pornface”, this is what they mean. Sometimes you have to wonder if he’s ever seen another human’s facial expression, outside of pornography. I suppose she’s supposed to be surprised and scared, but the doe-eyed gaze and wantonly slack mouth doesn’t really convey that. This is not the look of someone worried by the appearance of a giant red dome in front of her face. Quite the opposite.
Moments after this, Bastion walks off, asking Creed to come get him when the X-Men are dead. He doesn’t know the meaning of the word hubris. Which, given that he’s a robot from the future unafraid to throw around terms like “banal” and “ennoble” and “profane edifice”, is something of an oversight.
Bastion hasn’t really been speaking this elaborately in his previous appearances, but I really like it. It reminds me of the days when Claremont would have Xavier and Magneto meet up for a brief, friendly chat about evolutionary philosophy before Wolverine would try to stab him.
Toad is still sporting his Ray Park redesign, I see. He turned up looking like this after the movie came out, and it was given to him (retroactively) in an issue of (the 2001 series) X-Men Forever, a completely batshit story written by Fabian Nicieza where Prosh, Cable’s sentient computer who had previously merged with a spaceship left the planet, returned to Earth and sent a few X-Men back and forth in time to fix continuity errors. Also in that series, answers to the questions of: why Mystique started looking a bit like the movie version of herself, who shot Graydon Creed (long after anyone still cared), why the Celestials created mutants, what was going on at Almagordo, and christ knows what else.
X-Men Forever is notable largely because it thanks X-Men uber-fan Paul O’Brien, since he helped with the research back when all the cool kids hung out on rec.arts.comics.marvel.xbooks arguing about who The Twelve were and which X-Man was cooler, Maggott or Marrow (that never happened -Fake Ed).
Oh, god. Cyclops has his jetpack out again. Literally the worst idea anyone has ever had.
Excellent reveal, this. And Greg Land, for his sins, actually does a really good job on this splash page. The nerd in me enjoys it when writers address the fact that in a shared universe, the Avengers should really be all over a major threat to a US city like this. Usually that just means someone going “The Avengers are stuck in the Microverse!” but if the story instead has them actually showing up, well, all the better. This is, for reference, the “Heroic Age” Avengers lineup, minus Wolverine who is stuck in the Bubble. And by that, I don’t mean the David Mitchell-hosted topical gameshow.
I’m slightly concerned by Psylocke’s position here. Is she using her telekinesis to fly? I can’t remember if she’s even supposed to have telekinesis or not. She was being carried by Angel earlier, so… oh, I don’t know. This, to be honest, is the kind of thing that annoys me about Greg Land. Okay, he phototraces, whatever, we can all have a good laugh at that – but technically, he’s a very poor storyteller. I can totally see why people would like Land’s work. It’s glossy, bright, realistic (in a sense) and everyone looks like attractive models (because they are usually traced from photos of attractive models) but personally, I like artists who concentrate on telling the story, and that seems to be bottom of Land’s priorities at any given time. Pretty much every issue he draws, you can find an example of this where the art isn’t just at odds with the story, it actively obscures it.
Oh yeah! Nimrods! Nimrod is, according to Wikipedia, the great-grandson of Noah and the king of Shinar. No, wait. Nimrod is an uber-sentinel from the future! The first Nimrod originally appeared in Uncanny X-Men #191, eventually evolved beyond his mutant-hunting programming, and sacrificed himself by taking Master Mold through the Siege Perilous, a mystical gateway that judged you in some nebulous, plot-serving way. In Psylocke’s case, it was (sort of) responsible for turning her from a Brit into an asian Ninja. But Fabian Nicieza (him again?) made it more complicated than that. In Rogue’s case, it returned her naked and powerless, to the X-Men’s Australian base. In the case of Master Mold and Nimrod, it merged them both into Bastion, as detailed in the Machine Man/Bastion ’98 annual that no-one except me read. And with billing like that, who can blame them?
Needless to say, these are not the same Nimrod. They’re most likely from another time period. Either way, it spells trouble for the X-people, because they’re notoriously hard to kill.
X-Factor #205 – In which Bastion’s goons interrupt X-Factor’s current storylines, in quite a literal sense. Bastion has sent Trask after the members of X-Factor, and they’re generally being outsmarted left, right and centre. There aren’t really any “revelations” in this, despite the tagline of “Second Coming Revelations”, but it’s a fun issue of the series nonetheless. It does explain what Trask is doing, and it’s kind of important because X-Factor are, as of now, some of the only mutants on the planet who aren’t trapped inside a giant bubble with a bunch of uber-Sentinels from the future. Not exactly plot-essential, but decent nonetheless.