Overview

X-Men: Second Coming #1

Review

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X-Men: Second Coming #1

Credits

  • Words: Craig Kyle and Chris Yost
  • Art: David Finch
  • Inks: Matt Banning
  • Colors: Peter Steigerwald
  • Publisher: Marvel Comics
  • Price: $3.99
  • Release Date: Mar 31, 2010

X-Men: Second Coming is a big event comic built around a collection of quiet moments. Unlike similar mammoth crossovers, such as Siege and Civil War, Second Coming doesn’t begin with a bang. The story starts quietly, simply, with a much-anticipated return that catapults the beleaguered mutant nation into its ultimate fight for survival.

Writers Craig Kyle and Chris Yost choose a different path than their contemporaries in their approach to this summer’s big mutant crossover. In both Civil War and Siege, the core conflicts exploded out of catastrophe and controversy. Both are loud, bombastic epics set on a world stage, exploring the consequences of living in a society where superhumans flourish.

By contrast, Kyle and Yost’s plot doesn’t rely on massive body counts to drop the reader into their story. The opening montage depicting the seasons’ passage over the ruins of the Xavier Institute is a sad, quiet reminder that Westchester County is no longer the epicenter of the mutant race. It’s refreshingly sedate and just as effective at hooking the audience as the deaths of a stadium full of unsuspecting citizens.

The writers continue this trend, peppering their plot with numerous silent panels, designed to up the emotional ante for the characters and the audience. Cyclops’ quiet certainty and the small, brief smile he allows himself when Wolverine confirms his beliefs that Hope has returned, provide insight into his fears and motivations as a leader. Later, Wolverine’s guilty silence in the face of the shocking murder of an informant tell the audience more about the simmering internal tensions threatening the X-Men, than the pointed questions put to him by Psylocke and Nightcrawler.

None of this would be possible without the stellar art of David Finch and Matt Banning. Finch’s work possesses a newfound maturity, allowing him to capitalize on the character-driven plot, while still giving the audience huge, well laid out action sequences that wouldn’t be out of place in a Hollywood blockbuster. His art is robust, gritty, and somehow slick at the same time, recalling the styles of Marc Silvestri and Adam Kubert. The double page spread of the X-Men’s attack on the Sapien League is stunning, kinetic, and one of the best uses of two pages I’ve seen in a long time.

The conflicts facing the X-Men have traditionally been intimate and internal, their corner of the 616 acting as a microcosm of the greater Marvel Universe. Recently, their exploits have taken a back seat to Siege-level, company-wide events. X-Men: Second Coming succeeds in thrusting mutantkind back into the spotlight, while remaining true to the solid, character-driven stories that have been the franchise’s hallmark since Claremont and Byrne’s classic run.

More than just another mutant massacre though, Second Coming chronicles the mutant race’s last stand with a startling, gut-level realism that forces the audience to reconsider the seemingly uncharacteristic actions of their most beloved heroes, through not only their words but their silence, as well. 

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