Welcome to this week’s instalment of our regular look at the current X-Men crossover, done for no better reason than the fact that I’m a bit of an X-Men nerd. This week: Uncanny X-Men #523. You can also go back an read last week’s deconstructions of X-Men: Second Coming #1 and Second Coming Prelude if you’re so inclined.
Synopsis: While Cable and Hope hide out up in a motel, the Alpha Team complete their interrogation of the Sapien League, during which time Nightcrawler is shocked to learn of the existence – and methods – of X-Force. Meanwhile, Bastion – who is tracking Cable’s techno-organic virus – sends Stryker and his Purifiers to kill Hope. Cyclops sends the New Mutants to Cameron Hodge’s facility in St. Louis to destroy his cache of anti-mutant weaponry, but not before Cypher is able to point him in the direction of a disturbance near Westchester. The Purifiers attack Cable and Hope, pinning them down, but thanks to the intel provided by Cypher, the Alpha Team arrives, ready to free them.
Mini Review: The second chapter of Second Coming feels a little less urgent than the first, despite dealing with all the same plot threads. Although Dodson is generally one of the best artists on the X-Books, his style isn’t a natural fit for dramatic action scenes, especially in the wake of David Finch who – despite his weaknesses – can do that sort of material more justice. Elsewhere, Fraction’s versions of Cable and Hope are slightly one-note, which would be find except it’s not the same note we’ve seen in any of their previous appearances. In particular, the scene where Hope stares longingly at a pink hairbrush seems utterly bizarre, given her previous experiences of growing up in a post-apocalyptic future. It seems more likely that she’d be confused at what it was even for, rather than wish to own it. Although the tone of the issue didn’t quite work for me, I did, nonetheless, enjoy the plot developments, which were tightly considered. Not a huge amount happened, but for a story on a weekly pace, it kept enough ticking over that things shouldn’t get boring.
Let’s start with Hairbrushgate:
As you may have noted from the review above, I’m not a particularly big fan of this scene. Hope has been living exclusively in a post-apocalyptic world, so the idea that she would stare longingly at a pink hairbrush of all things seems a little unlikely, unless we’re supposed to believe there’s some innate gender attraction at work. And I hardly think Matt Fraction would go there.
On the other hand, I really like this moment for Colossus. He’s probably as outraged and disappointed as Nightcrawler, but he takes a more pragmatic view of the situation in the short term. It wouldn’t surprise me if he later had his own angry chat with Wolverine and/or Cyclops, but for now, he’s focusing on the good he can do in the immediate future.
For those wondering, Cyclops did raise Cable – although he was in a different body and several thousand years in the future at the time. Let’s try and be as concise as possible, shall we? Nathan Summers, son of Cyclops and Madelyne Pryor, was taken into the future by the Clan Askani so that he could be cured of the techno-organic transmode virus that Apocalypse infected him with. As a safeguard, the Askani created a virus-free clone of Cable, who later grew up to become Apocalypse’s apprentice and intended vessel, Stryfe.
Meanwhile, in the past, Madelyne Pryor went insane and was revealed as a clone of Jean Grey (who had recently returned from the dead) then killed herself. Free from the shackles of his first marriage, Cyclops eventually wed Jean. On their honeymoon, however, their consciousnesses were pulled into the future by Mother Askani and implanted into imprecise reconstructions of their own bodies, assembled from the genetic material of their descendants. They lived for about 12 years as “Redd” and “Slym”, raising the young Nathan after the Askani were scattered by Apocalypses forces. Eventually, the three killed Apocalypse, at which point Scott and Jean’s minds were pulled back to the present. Leading the resistance against Apocalypses remaining forces, Nathan grew into the man called Cable, and eventually returned to our time where he unfortunately ended up drawn by Rob Liefeld.
Yet more wrongness. Hope has always been shown with something of a defiant streak – but never before has she been this frivolous, especially when stuck in a hostile and unfamiliar environment. I can see that Fraction’s attempting to give Hope a sense of immature wonder at the opulence of modern living, but to me, it doesn’t ring true to her character at all. Immaturity is a character flaw that Hope has simply never had the luxury of.
Update him indeed! I don’t know what these towers are, but it’s never good when villains start building towers, is it? Last time I remember robots building towers in the X-books, it was during the Phalanx Covenant storyline. Which, in a probably unrelated coincidence, was one of the last times Hodge and Lang showed up until they were revived by Bastion.
OF COURSE the Internet is going to seem rudimentary if you insist on using a dial-up connection. I believe that’s a only a 1200 baud left arm he’s got plugged in there. Also, you missed out “sarcastic comics reviews” from the list of things the Internet is used for. Idiot.
In which I catch up with some of the predictions I made in Chapter Zero of this article series.
Nightcrawlerwatch: It has come to my attention over the last week that the recent X-Men Origins: Nightcrawler one-shot was billed as a “Second Coming Tie-In” for no obvious content reason. Assuming it wasn’t an error, the logical assumption can be made that this is because Nightcrawler dies in Second Coming, and Marvel think retailers might therefore want a few extra copies of the Nightcrawler comic kicking around for the brief period of time that people are talking about him.
Also, he’s in the new teaser image, released this week. One of these X-Men will die! they say, with a strange sense of bloodthirstiness. If we assume this death isn’t going to be a repeat performance, we can rule out Colossus and Magik, and Iceman was already alive in the scenes from “prelude”, which haven’t happened yet. This leaves us Cable, Nightcrawler, Frost and Angel. At this points, odds greatly favour the former two – but Wolverine’s reaction in the Prelude story suggests Nightcrawler or, at a push, Angel – a character he’s responsible for under X-Force. Personally, I think things don’t look good for everyone’s favourite German.
Aaaaand that’s it for this week. Back here in a week’s time (ish) for a look at the events of Chapter 3 of Second Coming as found in New Mutants #12.