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Casualties of War

May 7, 2010

     The latest major X-Men crossover, Second Coming, is in full force, and in just four short weeks, we have four new issues: Uncanny X-Men #523, New Mutants #12, X-Men: Legacy #235, and X-Force #26.  Nightcrawler confronts Cyclops about X-Force, but Cyclops tells him to leave the questions for when he’s not in the field.  Cyclops sends the New Mutants to watch Cameron Hodge and the Right, and William Stryker and the Purifiers catch up with Cable and Hope Summers at a motel.  Wolverine, Psylocke, Nightcrawler, Angel, Colossus, X-23, and Magik arrive as well, but when Magik tries to teleport Hope out, Stryker’s forces use some special kind of weapon that sends her to some other dimension (leading to X-Men: Second Coming – Revelations – Hellbound).  Cyclops orders the New Mutants in, Angel finishes off Stryker, and Ariel arrives as a replacement for Magik.  Hodge gets in his cyborg body and stabs Karma multiple times in the leg when she tries to possess him, so Warlock joins the fray and takes Hodge out.  Rogue senses that she has some kind of connection with Hope, and Cyclops sends her out into the field, traveling with Nightcrawler and using her as a homing beacon.  Cerebro gets shut down, and the main team is hit by a missile, killing Ariel.  They then catch up again with Cable and Hope and take out their pursuers.  Rogue and Nightcrawler take Hope back towards Utopia, while the rest plus Cable act as decoys.  Bastion goes out into the field himself, noticing something odd about the X-Men’s movements, and Cyclops orders the New Mutants home while looking at the information Cypher brought in about some strange towers, noting that their communication is dead, so they’re being attacked.  Bastion finds Rogue, Nightcrawler, and Hope, and although Rogue is much better with her powers, she’s no match for him.  In the midst of the fight, Bastion shoves his hand right through Nightcrawler as Nightcrawler teleports in front of him.  Using the last of his strength, Nightcrawler gets Hope to Utopia, then dies from his injuries.  Bastion recovers and tells his men to proceed with the secondary plan.

     Wow.  I mean, we all knew that someone was going to die in X-Force #26, but Nighcrawler…  Even though he was one of the people they said might die, the whole thing is just so powerful… and sad.  Apparently, a lot of the people working on that issue were crying when they actually had to get down to it.  For good reason.  Nighcrawler’s one of the most beloved members of the X-Men.  And I can say that I can’t really think of any other time in comic books, except for maybe when Shadowcat got stuck in the bullet, that I was so sad about a character dying or having something really bad happen to him/her.  That scene was extremely powerful, especially since it seemed like Rogue was the one who would die.  Anyway, Second Coming is a really tightly-written crossover.  Even though it’s cycling through different creative teams, the story is very well-planned, and even though the narrative focus switches, it often barely feels like the writing is different.  The only time that I really felt like the dialogue was a tad odd was when Matt Fraction would write Cable and Hope.  Especially since I think it sounds so funny it when people use the word “flank” in reference to one person.  Unfortunately, the art isn’t quite up to the standards of the writing.  Holes have slowly appeared in Terry Dodson’s work since he started on Uncanny X-Men.  They weren’t really noticeable or bad at first, but now, everything just seems overall sloppier.  Plus, Colossus randomly has full-finger gloves at some points and his usual not-glove things later.  Some artistic inconsistency.  Greg Land’s work is the same as ever, if a tad better.  But that one scene when Emma Frost  is reacting to the “psionic feedback” looks more like she’s grabbing her hair out of frustration because she can’t figure out how to make it look nice.  Not a fan of the Psylocke butt shot after the missile attack either.  I’ve only seen Ibraim Robertson’s work once before, but I really like it, even if he makes Cyclops’ visor look too big.  My favorite, however, is still Mike Choi, whose super-detailed work is just what I like.  Overall, it’s not the kind of sum of artistic talent you’d expect in a crossover of this importance.  But Fraction, Zeb Wells, Mike Carey, Craig Kyle, and Chris Yost do good enough work on the writing that it’s not a big deal.  I’m definitely confused as to where this story will be going now, but hopefully, it will continue to be this enjoyable, even though I know so little about Hope and care so little about Cable.

Plot: 9.1      Art: 8.5      Dialogue: 8.9      Overall: 9.0

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