Marvel’s 10-Year Plan – Part 5: Second Coming

At long last we come to the end of Marvel’s mutant messiah trilogy.  All the main X-book writers including Craig Kyle, Christopher Yost, Matt Fraction, Zeb Wells, and Mike Carey wrote Second Coming.  The story, like Messiah Complex before it, was featured in virtually all the on-going X-series including Uncanny X-Men, New Mutants, X-Men: Legacy, and X-Force.  It was released from March to July 2010, and primarily dealt with the aftermath of Cable and Hope’s long awaited return home.

There are a few key developments that happened in-between Messiah War and Second Coming.  First off, Cable and Hope were reunited, but Hope was now a teenager.  The two were separated right at the end of Messiah War when Hope broke free of Cable’s grasp during the timestream jump.  Cable and Hope also finally managed to defeat Bishop, and Hope now knows that she’s supposed to be some kind of mutant messiah.

Second Coming begins with the timestream jump back home.  Hope and Cable arrive and are immediately attacked by anti-mutant terrorists.  The who’s who of anti-mutant sentiment have banded together including future master Sentinel, Bastion, and human allies Stephen Lang, Bolivar Trask, William Stryker, Graydon Creed, and Cameron Hodge.  Needless to say, this is it, the end-all fight the X-Men have feared.  With mutant numbers now down to 181, they have very little chance of survival.  Everything rests on Hope’s slender shoulders.

Cable and Hope have their first battle where they thought it would be safe, at Xavier’s school for higher learning.  When they learn the X-Mansion is no longer there, after having been completely destroyed earlier, they hit the road.  Eventually the two make their way to a hotel room, where we see Hope is actually a teenage girl after all.  She enjoys having a shower, easy access to food, etc.  She’s grown up with such harsh conditions that it’s nice to see her finally let loose and relax for once.  That doesn’t last long as the two are attacked by Purifiers.  We learn that Bastion is able to track Cable because of the tech virus he has been controlling ever since he was a child.  Bottom line, they can’t run because they’ll always be one step behind.

Cyclopes’ Alpha Team, (Wolverine, X-23, Angel, Colossus, Nightcrawler, Psylocke and Magik), come to Cable’s aid.  Cyclopes learns of Cable’s return from Cerebra and immediately puts a hundred and one plans into action.  They all equal the same thing, reach Hope, and bring her back to Utopia (mutant island just off of San Francisco) in one piece.  One of the Purifiers opens a portal to Limbo that Magik (Colossus’ younger sister) cannot control and before anyone knows what’s happening she is sucked into it.

When there’s a slight pause in the action Cable talks strategy with Wolverine, and they realize that Cable must separate from Hope if they have any chance of survival.  Hope takes off with Nightcrawler and Rogue, while Cable stays behind as a diversion with Wolverine and the rest of the Alpha Team.

While all of this is going down Beta Team is sent in to investigate mysterious towers that are appearing all around Utopia.  Eventually the New Mutants discover there’s something special about these towers and that they all communicate with one another.  The New Mutants are attacked, some are seriously injured, but at the end of the day they make it out alive.  They tell Cyclopes that the X-Men need to destroy these towers before they’re activated.

Rogue, Nightcrawler and Hope teleport almost non-stop to Utopia.  Just before their last jump Bastion himself attacks the trio.  He gives Rogue a serious beating and just as he’s about to grab hold of Hope, Nightcrawler teleports between them, and is impaled by Bastion’s arm.  He grabs Hope and Rogue and teleports to Utopia, where he collapses, looks at Hope and tells her that he believes in her before he closes his eyes for the last time.

When all the mutants return to Utopia, Cyclopes tries to hold a true Catholic funeral, but tensions are extremely high.  Beast blames Cyclopes for Kurt’s death, and his X-Factor secret is let loose.  Storm is extremely disappointed that Cyclopes would purposely put together a team of killers and use them to gather intel, etc.  Cyclopes says he would do it all again in a heartbeat if it means saving their species.  Tough choices had to be made, and he made them.

Suddenly explosions start going off all over the place and it’s revealed that Cerebra, the Blackbirds, and all other forms of transportation off Utopia have been destroyed.  The towers that were erected also explode and the end result is Utopia gets encased in a giant red sphere.

Outside the sphere the Avengers try to aid their mutant friends, but to no avail.  Nothing can penetrate the sphere.  Inside things go from bad to worse as a portable opens up within the sphere and NIMROD Sentinels start pouring out of the portal.  These are incredibly strong Sentinels from the future, and they’re appearing five at a time.  After the time rift is scanned it is determined that there are 170,000 NIMROD Sentinels on the other side.  The mutant race is about to come to an end unless Cyclopes can figure a way to stop it.

After several battles and lots of back and forth on how to solve the issue Cyclopes comes up with the idea that Cable will take X-Factor into the future and stop the source of the problem.  Cypher is selected to go with them, he has the ability to control machines if he can gain access to the source.  Cable and Cyclopes both know this is a one-way trip as Cable only has one jump left.  He grabs hold of Hope and for the first time tells her he loves her, and “good-bye,” which is something he never ever told her before.  Hope freaks out when she learns that Cyclopes knowingly sent his own son on a suicide mission, along with Wolverine and many others.

As every mutant on Utopia fights for their life, the story goes back and forth between Utopia and X-Factor in the future timeline.  Eventually X-Factor is successful in shutting down all the NIMROD Sentinels, and prevent more from going back to the past.  When the team attempts to use the open time portal, they discover that only inorganic material can pass through it.  Cable sacrifices himself, allowing the tech virus to completely change his body to metal.  He then forces the portal open allowing all of X-Factor to pass through.  Hope sees him on the other side of the portal and screams for him, but it’s too late as Cable vaporizes, with only his metallic arm left on the ground.

Looking on in horror Bastion informs his human colleagues that he will finish the job himself, and that the mutants will not be allowed to win this day.  He flies directly for Hope, who is so infuriated by the death of her “father” that she single-handily destroys Bastion with what appears to be the Phoenix energy force.  It also blasts a giant hole right through the sphere, which then disappears.  Hope then completely passes out.

Later that night when the X-Men are celebrating with a bonfire, Emma notices that the flames around Hope start to take the shape of a Phoenix, which triggers a flashback to the Sisterhood storyline where Jean freed her from Lady Mastermind’s illusion, and told her to “prepare.”  Scared out of her mind she races off to find Cyclopes, who is in the Cerebra control room.  She doesn’t get a chance to say anything though because Cyclopes looks at Emma and says “I knew it,” as five new mutants are discovered by Cerebra, meaning perhaps Hope is the messiah after all.

Hands-down the best part of this event was the Cable and Hope parts.  I’m a sucker for character development and it felt completely natural after all these years.  Hope considered Cable her father and the greatest betrayal she has faced was what Cyclopes did to her, by letting Cable go into the future knowing he was never going to return.  I also enjoyed how we’re still not clear exactly what Hope’s powers are, and whether or not she will bring about the future of mutant kind or end all life on Earth.

The aftermath of this event would eventually lead into the final X-event before Avengers vs. X-Men, which was called X-Men: Schism.  Leading up to that Beast would leave Utopia and become a Secret Avenger, and Hope would become interested in finding her real family.  Eventually the X-Men are considered heroes for saving San Francisco during the Bastion sphere attack.

After years of back-to-back storylines running through the various X-books, and House of M, the mutants finally looked like their future was secure, but within a very short time period their world would be flipped outside down yet again.  Tomorrow we look at Schism, the very last event before Hope takes center stage in what is ‘supposed’ to be the single biggest event in Marvel’s history, Avengers vs. X-Men.

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