Last week X-Men Second Coming #2 came out, bringing to a close the most recent X-Men crossover/event. There are four different stories in this issue. Chapter 1 is written by Zeb Wells who is the writer of New Mutants. Chapter 2 is told by Mike Carey, writer of X-Men: Legacy. Chapter 3 is written by X-Force scribes Craig Kyle and Chris Yost. Chapter 4 is told by Matt Fraction. It is satisfying to read the respective X-writers tying up the storylines relating to their titles. The chapter I found most satisfying was Chapter 3 by Kyle and Yost. These gentlemen have a gift for writing X-characters in a manner that is infused by their history. The voices simply ring true to me. This is not to say that Kyle and Yost rest on their laurels regarding plot or character development. Somehow, there is a sense that every sentence and action is moving the characters forward. There is reverence for continuity, but also an awareness of looking to the future. There is momentum in every story they write and that has made them one of my favorite writing teams.
In Chapter 3 of X-Men Second Coming #2, Wolverine is sitting on the floor of recently departed X-Men member Nightcrawler’s room drinking a lot of beers. Storm enters the room. The following is a transcript of their dialogue for the first two pages of this chapter.
WOLVERINE: Leave me alone.
STORM: I can’t do that….What are you doing, Logan?
WOLVERINE: I came down here, all lit up. Had it in my head that people were going to come take his stuff. Nearly killed one of the students, thinking they were taking something, like a damn souvenir. They were leaving a candle, making a shrine. I keep saying he was the only one that treated me like I wasn’t some kind of animal, but he died…he died knowing that’s exactly what I am.
STORM: Was he wrong?
STORM: I spoke with Scott about X-Force. He said he ordered you to do it. He took full responsibility. I laughed at him. I laughed at the thought of someone making you do something. Even Scott.
(STORM picks up a framed photo from the All-New, All-Different era. CYCLOPS, NIGHTCRAWLER, STORM, JEAN GREY and WOLVERINE are laughing and smiling.)
STORM: Goddess help me. I feel old, Logan. Every time I feel like I’ve cried all the tears I have to cry…there he is again. I am taking this picture. You may try and kill me if you like. Isn’t that what you do now?
STORM: You hunt down our enemies and murder them before they can act against us. That is what your X-Force does, correct? Because right now, the only thing that’s separating you from our enemies is semantics. Tell me I’m wrong, Logan.
WOLVERINE: You’re not wrong. But you weren’t exactly there, were you? You want to judge us from up on your throne? Go ahead, but X-Force was out there trying to prevent all this. Trying to prevent genocide, any way we could. If that makes us the bad guys, I’ll take the heat for that.
STORM: X-Men don’t kill, we always said. Yes, that line has blurred over the years, but what you and Scott did here…and involving Rahne and James and Laura…
WOLVERINE: I didn’t want that. I didn’t even want Summers involved. The thought of him killing people like that? That’s not him. That’s me. And you know what? If I had to do it all over again, I’d kill more of them. Because maybe if I had killed more of them, Kurt would still be alive.
STORM: I’m sorry to hear that. Because that means this could very well be the last drink we will ever share together.
This conversation about X-Force’s secret wetworks missions has been a long time in coming. I thought Logan and Ororo’s voices were very much in character (Well, as much as a characters who appear in multiple comics and are written by a number of writers can be. Incidentally, I also enjoy Warren Ellis’ take on these two X-Men in the Astonishing title). The hallmarks of Kyle and Yost’s writing style that I mentioned are evident. The past is referenced to contrast with the current situation which is influencing the future relationships of the characters. Brilliant!
However, as fascinating as this conversation was to me, my favorite moment came a few pages later, when Cyclops is talking to Wolverine and says:
CYCLOPS: They all came and talked to me, individually. The old crew, Storm, Colossus, Iceman…Professor Xavier…he could see it in my thoughts that I didn’t regret anything we did. And he looked at me like he was seeing a stranger. Storm…it was weird. She laughed, and asked me what I thought Jean would think about X-Force. And Hank…he’s not coming back.
Wow. It’s interesting to me that the writers chose to tell the reader about this moment twice instead of showing it. Hearing Storm and Cyclop’s perspectives separately gives the scene a Rashomon effect. I really enjoyed this issue. I found it to be a quite capstone on a crossover that was epic in its action and casualties. I’m still not a fan of Hope and didn’t really expect this storyline to make me interested in her as she’s still primarily depicted as an object rather than a person, but I’m interested to see how this event changes the X-Men for better or worse. I’m rather joyous that (SPOILER ALERT) Cable bit the dust, but bitter about Nightcrawler’s death. And Rogue totally got shafted by Cyclops in the end for a decision that she made that any of us in her position would have made. (END SPOILER ALERT)
This crossover is definitely worth a read. It has plenty of pathos and just enough human elements to keep you interested in Marvel’s (not so merry these days) mutants.