So, Second Coming has officially started – and with that, so does our regular look at the latest chapter, starting with X-Men: Second Coming #1.
Synopsis: Cable and Hope return to the present. Cyclops mobilises the X-Men to bring them into protection. Attacked by various groups of human zealots, Cable and Hope manage to stay ahead just long enough for the X-Men to arrive and take out their pursuers. In the final pages, it is revealed that the attackers are all members of the “Sapien League”, a group of the X-Men’s deadliest human foes which is being headed by… Bastion!
Mini Review: Not much new information about the story itself, but a lot of action and some surprisingly fantastic artwork from David Finch (even if Hope is drawn slightly too young compared to how she appeared over in Cable recently) add up to a decent beginning for the arc. Yost and Kyle’s grip on X-Men continuity serves this story well, and the setup for future chapters is well-disguised as Cyclops’ own contingency plans. If nothing else, it’s always fun to see the X-Men on top of a situation, doing what they do best, and yet still having time for some nice character moments too.
Now, first big point – and call me a nerd if you like – but I really love the trade dress for Second Coming. Part of what I liked about Messiah Complex was the way that all of the issues looked like a continuous series, and that should be the case here, too. The X-Men logo with the extended strike is a nice take on a retro classic that visually references the original X-Factor logo – appropriately so, given the number of X-Factor references in this issue. I like the mix of modern and gothic fonts, and that the colours fit in nicely with Messiah Complex/War as well. Done properly, trade dress can make an event feel special, and that’s definitely the case here – the prominent chapter number indicates that this is going to be a story where every part counts.
In case you’re wondering, these weird grinning robots who show up are members of The Right, a group of mutant-hating X-Factor villains. Or, more accurately, they are members of the new Sapien League, wearing the armour of The Right, as discovered in a crate during the first year of X-Force v3.
The armour is (crudely) designed to counteract mutant powers – specifically, the powers of X-Factor (back when it comprised of the original X-Men). I have no idea what the grinning face design is about, you just have to remember that they were created in the 80s when this sort of thing was considered normal.
On Utopia, Cyclops informs the team that 3 X-Men died as a result of the events of Necrosha. Including Meld, who just died of his injuries. Who is Meld, you might be asking?
Who indeed. A shiny penny to anyone who can actually identify Meld from that line-up without checking first. Namor asks why the hell anyone cares about this Meld person anyway, echoing the voice of the readers, but Cyclops tells him to shut his face, then goes off and has an old-school sulk.
Let’s hope that wasn’t a load-bearing wall. Although this tantrum will potentially harm the resale value of Utopia, it is actually significant that he goes this far, because it suggests that the precarious situation of leading all mutantkind – not entirely successfully – is actually starting to get to the normally stoic and repressed Cyclops.
Now, here’s a mystery. Why isn’t Hope showing up on Cerebra? Can she somehow mask herself? Has Cable masked her already? Cerebra detected her mutant signature the moment Hope was born – so why not now? I’m pretty sure her powers have already manifested, after all, even if she isn’t well-practised in using them. And furthermore, how does Cyclops know that Hope is in the present too? Is it, perhaps, due to the psychic rapport he used to share with a certain redhead that Hope may or may not be the reincarnation of? Or is he just making a leap of faith?
Following this discovery, Cyclops breaks the team up into squads. It’s not clear why Domino and Vanisher have been sent to San Francisco. Rogue and Namor are left to protect Utopia – with Cyclops making an amusing appeal to Namor’s vanity – while the New Mutants are put in the sky, sans Magik, for similarly vague reasons. Cyclops himself takes his “Alpha Roster”, which is a frankly awesome team comprising Wolverine, Colossus, Nightcrawler, Angel, Psylocke, X-23, Magik, Pixie and Cyclops himself. I love a good custom X-Men squad, and with three teleporters and lots of combat prowess, it seems well-suited for an extraction.
Meanwhile, Cable and Hope are still fighting. Cable notices that The Right armour is “ahead of its time.” Solicitations suggest that there’s going to be a time-travel component to Second Coming, but it may also suggest that the new Sapien League has been harvesting technology from Bastion’s “Nimrod” components.
The guys in the weird face-masks are members of the Sapien League, who first appeared in 2004 and were recently led by the Leper Queen. Apparently, when you’re out of flying robot suits with buit-in guns and stuff, your next option is a van and hockey mask. But they do get sniper rifles too. While they attempt to chase down Hope and Cable, the X-Men teleport in and slice up the Sapien League good, much to Nightcrawler’s moral outrage. Cyclops and Wolverine also spend a lot of time trying to hush up the various members of X-Force from discussing their secret black-ops missions in front of people who aren’t supposed to know about it.
Wolverine tries to find out how they were tracking Cable and Hope, and the next scene apparently reveals the answer. The new Sapien League had a video camera pointed at the mansion ruins. Probably not such a bad idea, all things considered. It also reveals the villains for Second Coming - a bunch of Human X-Men villains who have finally pooled their resources. Makes sense, really, given that the “faceless anti-mutant zealots” has been the mandate for a fair proportion of “different” anti-mutant organisations over the years. For those who are interested, it’s Cameron Hodge (demonically-immortal leader of The Right), Steven Lang (ex-Phalanx), Bolivar Trask (Sentinel creator), William Stryker (Purifiers), Graydon Creed (Friends of Humanity) and Bastion (Past-Mastermold, Part-Nimrod, All-Operation: Zero Tolerance). It’s like a 80s/90s villain reunion, and a feast for continuity geeks. Though, in case you hadn’t noticed, a lot of the villains in this story have recently appeared in Kyle/Yost’s X-Force run.
Oh, and just because they apparently haven’t used the word Messiah enough to justify the title of this crossover, Bastion appears here, crucified. Subtle.
In which I catch up with some of the predictions I made in Chapter Zero of this article series.
Phoenixwatch: Nothing about Phoenix so far. There’s the barest subtextual hint that Cyclops’ psychic link with Jean might be what makes him so sure that Hope is alive, but it could easily be nothing more than faith in his son.
Nightcrawlerwatch: Kurt seems oddly prominent in this issue, and gets to give the kind of speech that’s going to seem pretty ironic if he does die. His moral outrage at X-23′s murder of a Sapien League member is also a fairly major plot beat that suggests he may shortly develop some disillusionment with the Cyclops’ leadership skills. The fact that he has more lines than pretty much everyone except Cable, Hope and Cyclops suggests that he is going to be a major part of the next few issues – one way or the other.
So, Part One over. Everyone back here next week for a look at Uncanny X-Men #523!