REVIEW: X-Men Second Coming ø5

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X-Men: Second Coming Chapter ø5 hit stores yesterday, and this is the big “death” issue that’s been talked about since the crossover began. I’m never really sure how to handle major plot spoilers in reviews, so I’m probably going to overcompensate. Click through to read on, provided you don’t mind knowing all the tragic details.

This book was a really fast read and a lot of pages are dedicated to fight scenes and the tragic sacrifice made in the name of saving Hope. Of course, she’s not really safe as we still have nine more chapters to go, but she does arrive at the X-Men’s new home of Utopia by the issue’s end. In fact, all of the X-Men have returned to regroup, and having them all together seems to play into Bastion’s plans.

After Chapter ø3, I thought all signs were pointing to Cable being the character to lose his life protecting Hope, particularly with the battle being set up at the end of Chapter ø4. However, we see that Bastion knows every move the X-Men are making and easily compensates for Hope’s escape with Rogue and Nightcrawler. It’s fitting that Bastion really steps onto the playing field in Craig Kyle and Chris Yost’s first X-Force chapter of Second Coming, as he has been planning this assault since their book debuted after Messiah Complex. It’s also fitting that they handle the first casualty of Second Coming, having killed off enough characters in their books to really know what they’re doing. Nightcrawler’s final words to Hope were perfect and tragic. While death in comic books has become cheap and ephemeral, the writers manage to evoke some real emotion with this one.

I normally like Mike Choi and Sonia Oback’s artwork, and most of this issue looks great. The unfortunate exception is the full-page image of Nightcrawler’s sacrifice. It just looked flat and lacked the gravitas that I think the image needed. After all the “bloody” variants from the early issues of this book, this came off too clean. I’m not saying I want a gore-fest, in fact I hated the “bloody” variant concept, but this just didn’t come off quite right. The pages that follow more than make up for it though, as Nightcrawler’s final moments and the X-Men’s reactions are beautifully drawn.

In case it wasn’t clear from a lot of my comics posts, variant covers and cover art in general are a big part of my collecting habit. I don’t buy every variant, but if I see one I like I have no problem with picking it up. Each issue of Second Coming has two covers: a regular cover by Adi Granov and a variant by David Finch. To be complete though, I need to mention that Marvel is celebrating “Iron Man” month this April in anticipation of Iron Man 2 opening May 7th. This means every ongoing title has an “Iron Man by Design” variant cover for the month, so Second Coming Chapters ø2-ø5 actually have three covers. Adding to this madness is the fact that Chapter ø5 has a fourth “R.I.P” cover by John Cassaday. I have to say that I’m impressed (and relieved) that the Cassaday cover stayed under wraps until after I was able to read the issue because I hate to have things spoiled for me. It’s easy to pick a favorite this week though since the Granov cover is once again amazing.

As the first act of Second Coming seems to wrap up, I’m scoring this one a 4 out of 5. Some other interesting happenings in the issue include the return of Prodigy. It’s really a shame that more hasn’t been done with him since M-Day and the upgrade he received from the Stepford Cuckoos. I also find it intriguing that Bastion lost an arm in his battle with Nightcrawler and Rogue. Reverend Stryker was using technology from the severed arm of a Nimrod Sentinel to hunt the New X-Men a few year’s ago. Come to think of it, didn’t Rogue tear off the arm of a Nimrod Sentinel the first time the X-Men faced one…weird.

More on X-Men: Second Coming
Chapter ø4 / Chapter ø6

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