by Chuck Moore
What would the comic book world be like if X-Men stories were actually good? That's the question we're pondering tonight as we take a look at the current X-Men: Second Coming event from Marvel. Thankfully, I'm here to report that this latest cross-title event IS a solid read. Here, I find honest cause for celebration as this round of mighty Marvel mutant mayhem might actually be setting the stage for a story that's both memorable and enjoyable. Who would have guessed?
X-Men Second Coming - The First Three Months
Released March 2010 through May 2010
The 13 issues covered in this article include: X-Man: Second Coming #1, Uncanny X-Men #523 & 524, New Mutants #12 & 13, X-Men: Legacy #235 and 236, X-Force #26 & 27, X-Factor #205 and 206, Hellbound #1 and Blind Sciences #1
What if a story featuring our favorite mutants was relevant to the modern Marvel U, reminded the reader of classic X-storytelling and made you eagerly anticipate the next issue? What if a Coors title event actually shared a tightly woven story? What if that same story reset the dynamic of leadership in mutant Marvel and brought together a mix of plot threads that have been dangling for years? These are questions that I've wanted to see answered successfully for far too long and I feel Second Coming is offering this reader repayment in full for the investment in time I've made reading these titles.
For several years now, I feel like I've been reading many of the X-titles more out of tradition than due to any honest love for what's taking place in the series. X-Necrosia as just one example was utterly forgettable. Overall, I've found this group of titles to be a weak compared to much of the modern comics with some rare, but notable exceptions. Thankfully, Second Coming appears to be changing that dynamic for the better and, at least for the time being, making these books interesting and exciting once again.
As an individual who has been consistently reading these characters for over 424 issues of the main Uncanny series alone (I jumped in around the time of the oversized issue #100) I feel this story shows real promise presenting a classic feel to the storytelling, yet still managing to honor the current modern interpretations of the teams. Here, we see personality and emotion brought the surface by the unexpected death of one of the teams most loved characters.
SPOILER ALERT... Yes, I'm going to talk about who died...
Some time back, I said in our forums (when those teaser posters hinting at a major death were floating around the site) that if it were Nightcrawler, it would be game over for me. I would walk away from the story at that point as it would be an emotional punch, but also one that had it's roots in killing off one of the few purely honest characters in the Marvel U. No one can deny that there was a light to the spirit of the once oppressed Nightcrawler that never waivered. He was a man of faith in these stories and that's the kind of hero that can be quite rare in modern comics. I'm not talking religion here. I'm talking about a simple belief in the good of mankind. I think we miss that in our heroes sometimes and Nightcrawler always had that in the mix for me. I loved the character for it.
Basically, I threw down the gauntlet that this would be unacceptable. Did I walk away when it happened? No. Why not? The story did the death justice. It wasn't epic. It wasn't earth shattering. It didn't feel like it was done simply to sell the issue. It was heroic and honest to the character.
Within the story, there is a point in the villains plan that requires the incapacitation of all teleporters. They achieved that goal by killing Nightcrawler (and detaining or eliminating other teleporters at roughly the same time). Their plan worked... Sometimes plans work. It made sense within the story and brought an emotional relevance to this chapter of the overall tale that I didn't see coming. The funeral scene and the comments between those attending was meaningful and I think the feelings expressed at this moment will resonate throughout the mutant titles for years to come.
If Nightcrawler's death can be the catalyst for a story that harkens back to the legendary classic age of X-storytelling. I'm all in and, so far, this story arc has had me gripping the edge of my seat. I'm talking white knuckle enjoyment here folks. Things are NOT going well for the mutant race. The oppressive forces of hatred have banded together to try and exterminate, once and for all, the mutants in the Marvel U.
Could you have a more pure concept at the heart of almost all X-Men storytelling than this quest for extermination? Here we have fear of what's different taken to the extreme and the ongoing X-Men allegory of racial or gender equality / oppression taken to it's most extreme. This story gets at many of the metaphors of mutant storytelling and does them justice. The mutant race is isolated and hunted yet, still our heroes charge to the rescue of those non-powered humans caught in the middle of the fight. It's both ominous and heroic at the same time. The action is real, the story is solid and much of the art (particularly in the pages of X-Force) is utterly amazing.
I cannot give this event a higher recommendation. From the main series to most of the stand alone one-shots, this takes me back to the the kind of X-Men story I want to be reading. This feels "Death of Phoenix" epic in it's attempt and as I turn each page I feel like I'm reading a story I'm going to remember for years to come. Is it groundbreaking? No. Is is a really great cape and tights story? Absolutely.
If you've given up on X-Men in the past, please consider trying this story. I think it may surprise you. Besides, you want to catch our merry mutants before Dracula dies and they go all vamp-grrr-argh for a while (who thinks that's a good idea? please...) When it comes to Second Coming, please make mine Marvel and serve me up the June and July finale as soon as possible because I'm looking forward to reading it!
Where to next? I've been on a Marvel binge lately catching up on the launch of the post-siege world. Add to that the glut of great indie titles I brought back from HeroesCon and I have a TON (literally.. I used a scale) of books to review. Many Rapid Fire Reviews ahead dear faithful readers. Much comic goodness to be consumed, summarized and opinioned for you soon!
Chuck Moore (firstname.lastname@example.org) / Creator of Comic Related
What's my story? I grew up in southern Ohio. I owned seven comic shops in the 80's. I moved to Kentucky. I ran a radio station and did an alternative music show in the 90's. I traveled and did press work for the unlimited hydroplane racing series and with ESPN in the 00's. As the current decade heads toward its close, I stopped traveling a bit, bought a farm and started a comic book web site. That's it in a nutshell.
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