Sympathy For the Devil
After a great start to the last issue with a weak finish, this issue reverses the dynamic; continuing the scene of the weak finish but progressively getting stronger. I'm not sure it gained enough footing to completely redeem itself, but it's keeping me interested.
After the strange cliffhanger from the first issue, it feels like Cornell regretted it, but instead of rewriting what he had, decides to rush through the scene to get it over with as quick as possible. It brings Omega's subplot to a screeching halt, and crams a bunch of dialogue into a space where it doesn't properly fit, making it awkward simply based on the speed at which it is implied to be delivered. Although maybe its not regret that created this rushed scene, but an attempt to gloss over some stuff that raises a few questions. Why and how is Mystique acting as such a convincing mother figure to Nate Summers? I understand she's attempting to be Jean Gray, but considering this is Nate Gray from an alternate reality I just don't comprehend how she seems to know exactly what to say to him.
Speaking of people knowing more than they should, why is Norman the one explaining everything about X-Man? Why not Dark Beast? He and X-Man are from the same alternate universe, but he just sits there listening to Norman lecture on as if he's the expert. At first I just wondered why Norman suddenly knew all he did about X-Man before realizing that he had said Dark Beast and X-Man were from the same world. Dark Beast doesn't once speak up about this connection, so a lot of things seem weird until you remember the barely acknowledged statement. And why were the posessed people saying "I am AN X-Man" instead of "I AM X-Man," or something like that. Not only that, they made a big deal out of X-Man being behind the times due to being dead or something, so I was assuming when he said, "That's not the real Henry McCoy!" that he wasn't aware he was from a parallel reality, but if they're from the same reality.....
An using X-Man in a story where Norman wants the rights to the name X-Men is kind of a groaner.
And then after Norman dumps a bunch of info onto his X-Men, he just leaves them to figure the rest of it out themselves. THe first issue, and every other exposure I've had with Norman had me seeing him as more of the micromanaging type. But he says he wants to fing X-Man and doesn't give them even the tinniest hinting of how he wants it done? It just seems off after he gave them so much info on the man and his plans for him.
After a messy beginning, a lot of the good things start to shine back through. Mystique proves a more interesting character than I had thought, as she plays an effective Lucifer type character with no indication of her true motivations. Speaking individually to the rest of the team and prodding at their weak spots. Is she under orders from Osborn, helping Osborn without being ordered to, or trying to organize dischord to bring down Osborn? This genune uncertainy makes her scenes very effective.
Mimic actually manages to keep doing his thing but tones down the whining quite a bit. He's channeling his angst into something.... not productive, but less obnoxious. Omega continues his crazy, but shows us a deprssinly more sympathetic side to it. He has a strong moral code, but his broken psyche screws with his ability to contain it. And Dark Beast continues to be the best kind of only slightly very unnerving. I know it sounds like an oxymoron, but it works. He's creepy as hell, but not in an overstated way. He's a pure scientist without a moral code. He's not evil, just detached from morality. Everything is at arms length, and its entertaining, unnerving, and interesting.
The art is exactly as good as the first issue, but it actually justifies the very standard panel layout when the scenes with the really abstract ones stand out more and end up more effective.
The plot takes some crazy twists and turns, but with much better pacing. The buildup of the story is very interesting, and after I was fearing this had train wrecked, restored my faith in the story.
On I final note, I think I have a better grasp of the weird thing being done with the intro boxes. After the name and the power description, the final line for each in this issue is the name of a Rolling Stones song. It's interesting, although there's still no context or justification of any kind.
In Conclusion: 3/5
This is really not Cornell's best work so far. Each issue has gotten a resounding "Ok, this is interesting, I'd like to see what happens." reaction from me. It's good and its interesting, but overall I doubt I'll ever look back on this once I'm done.