Tuesday, October 4, 2011

X-Men: Second Coming - Revelations (comics)

Writers: Christopher Yost, Peter David and others
Artists: Steve Dillon, Harvey Tolibao and others
Collects: X-Men: Hope, X-Men: Blind Science, X-Men: Hellbound #1-3, X-Factor #204-206

I kind of like companion volumes to crossovers or small scale events. They tend to have everything as far as the tie-ins go. Small scale, remember. Sadly, Marvel frequently disappears so far up it's own ass with events that you can't really read anything from the time period without a tie-in. It's not a huge secret why I don't read much Marvel.

This volume collects the tie-ins for Second Coming, which was the X lines big crossover event that was meant to wrap up a bunch of simmering plotlines. How that whole shebang went, I'll probably get to someday. Word of warning, you're not going to want to read this volume without having read Second Coming itself; it's got a major spoiler or two, though you probably know of them by now anyways.

By the way, what's with that title, huh? Revelations? Trust me, there are no revelations in this. It's just a volume collecting some side dishes to complement the main course. Yeah, yeah, I know, biblical allusion to go along with Second Coming, but it still doesn't fit. Ah well.

I'm going to format this review a bit differently, one I'll probably continue whenever I do a diverse collection like this. Each story will have its own section with my comments on it. It just seems more organized, given the fact that there's about four different stories to discuss.

X-Men: Hope | This one shot feels more like a prequel than a side story, which makes its inclusion a bit awkward. One thing I hate is flipping back and forth between books, so starting this collection with this and then reading Second Coming before the rest of it feels dumb. But then again, where the hell else could they have put it? Whatever, personal preference on my part, I guess. It's a turn-off, though.

It generally serves the purpose of giving some backstory to Cable and Hopes jaunts through time post-Messiah Complex. There was an entire volume of Cable devoted to those adventures, but I didn't read it because Cable is one of those lingering elements of 90's excess I tend to avoid. So it's nice of Marvel to have put out a one shot to give some context for those of us who don't care about Cable.

It's fairly well written and inoffensive, giving a few vignettes to show us Hope at different ages through the time travel shenanigans. It's written by Duane Swierczynski, who I believe wrote the Cable ongoing in question as well, so I imagine this is a lot what that series was like. It's not bad - fairly enjoyable for a one shot that centers around a 90s leftover - so kudos for that. Not enough to make me read a series about Cable; I felt like I got enough context from this anyways.

As for the art, if I have to sit here and tell you why Steve Dillons art is awesome, you've either never seen it, never read "Punisher: Welcome Back Frank" or your taste just sucks.

X-Men: Blind Science | I didn't expect to enjoy this one as much as I did. It centers around Utopias science division, the X-Club, whom I gather rarely do anything that, you know, solves any problems on the floating asteroid the mutant race decided it would be cool to chill on for a while. But who cares, this was a lot of fun; Dr. Nemesis is exactly the kind of prick I like reading.

We pick up with the X-Club in the midst of some major screw-up on their part, ending with them seemingly shot forward in time to one of the X franchises patented post-apocalyptic futures. Seriously, the future always blows with the X-Men around. One of the X-Club is the person who made that cure for mutants way back when and this particular future seems to require it to save everyone. Moral dilemma, engage!

It too is written fairly well, barring a half-assed Hitler comparison two thirds of the way in that's used to counter Dr. Nemesis. The write is Simon Spurrier, who I've never seen before in comics. He does alright, though. Dr. Nemesis is written as a hilarious, smug prick and frankly if that's not his normal characterization I'm going to be very disappointed. The one shot zips along and has the requisite twist - because of course they're not going to just wipe out the mutants - and overall it was a good time. I'd read more of this.

The art's by Paul Davidson. Another name I've never encountered. His work is simple but detailed, though, so feel free to put him on a regular book, Marvel.

X-Men: Hellbound | To me, this one is the meat of the book and I'm not entirely sure how I feel about it. It features Gambit, whom I may have once mentioned is one of my favorite mutants, and early on he actually comes off as fairly intelligent. He's one of the few I've seen in this period of X continuity that isn't buying the line of BS Cyclops is spewing and knows full well putting all the mutants in one place is a good way to send the race straight to extinction.

On the other hand, he's just there to be corrupted by Limbo so the Death personality can come out (that's a can of worms I don't feel like explaining right now). Not to mention it also focuses on some of the New X-Men or New Mutants or whoever they are this week, whom aside from Pixie and maybe Cannonball seem rather lame. Perhaps I'm just not giving them a fair shot. Maybe someday.

Illyana, Colossus' sister, is 'ported to Limbo in the midst of a large scale battle in Second Coming. Rather than be smashed into red paste by her brother, Cyclops makes the decision to send a bunch of third stringers he doesn't care about to fetch her from Limbo. This goes about as well as you'd expect. I mean, how useful is Dazzler going to be against a bunch of demons? Is she going to go all disco on them?

It's also not a shabby story, as far as the writing goes, but it's also fairly inconsequential. There are ties to some previous adventure I didn't read, which means the impact of the main conflict is kind of lost. I don't know where this adventure occured and the issue makes no attempt at all to tell me - can we have the damn editors notes back please? - so I'm just going to assume the whole thing would mean more to someone whose read the backstory. It's still readable, though - and we at least get a good idea of what happened in it through the dialogue, which is good - but overall it feels a bit like filler to give some D list mutants something to do.

The art's by Harvey Tolibao. It's very nice and fitting of the story. He makes a gaffe or two that's rather glaring, however. One page in the first issue is split up into four vertical panels, for instance, but when you look at it, they all form one image. So what was the point of splitting the full page splash into four panels? Couldn't tell you. Then on the next page, it's divided into a series of panels that don't seem to flow very well.

X-Factor #204-206 | This one's kind of unfortunate. This is apparently the only tie-in to an ongoing not involved in Second Coming directly. Now, the purpose of a tie-in, traditionally, is to boost a series readership by tying it into something everyones reading. The best way to do it is a mix of the tie-in elements and ongoing plots to hook the reader into the ongoing past the crossover. This, however, is a fairly contained story that begins and ends; which is great for a miniseries, but not so much for an ongoing, where the tie-in serves a different purpose.

Worse still, I was a little bored; could be my expectations working against me, as X-Factor is one of those books that is constantly praised by the small group of readers it has, so I think I expected more.

The story is pretty standard fare. The baddies from the main storyline try and assassinate the affiliated group and, of course, fail in the end. There isn't much else going on and not many running plots I could pick up on here. The lead cast struck me as fairly alright characters, but I wasn't given much of a hook to care about their fates. It's well written, as I expected, I just didn't find myself overly interested, which is a shame.

The art is by Valentine De Landro. It's pretty spiffy. Minimal lines, great color, pleasing to the eye. It's a shame I didn't find the story as interesting.

The Score: 6.5 out of 10

Everything contained is perfectly servicable fare. There isn't anything outright bad in here, but not much in the way of standouts either. If you're looking for some side dishes to the main course of Second Coming, it does the job nicely.

No comments:

Post a Comment