I'm thinking, 3.5 out of 5 stars for this one. This trade unveils some okay stories and some pretty good stories. X-MEN: SECOND COMING: REVELATIONS is an addendum to the epic "Second Coming" event that recently steamrolled thru the core X-Men titles. The stories reprinted here basically serve to fill in the various gaps and spaces that were overlooked or left unattended. The issues collected in this trade are: X-MEN: HOPE, X-MEN: BLIND SCIENCE, the limited series X-MEN: HELLBOUND #1-3, and X-FACTOR #204-206.
Been a few years now since X-MEN: MESSIAH COMPLEX, which culminated with Cable time traveling into the future with the baby Hope, that course of action deemed by Cyclops to be the best way to keep her safe. This X-MEN: HOPE one-shot is a bridging story that re-introduces us to Hope and Cable (I guess in case we forgot who they were in the past two and a half years). This sets the stage for the Second Coming event. This is also the cliff notes attempt at breaking down the relationship dynamics between Cable and his young charge, Hope. This story, told in four vignettes, tends to skip ahead years at a time, spanning Hope's short life - up to just before Second Coming kicks off - and touching on Cable's tough love training methods. Even as Hope grows in skill, it's not surprising - if you know Cable - that she still finds herself fighting to earn crumbs of approval from her cyborg guardian. Duane Swierczynski writes the thing well enough that there actually are a few touching moments to savor here and there, although I do think that the vignettes' short length keeps Swierczynski from really sinking his teeth into Hope's hard-earned life lesson moments. And where was Bishop in all this? One big honking plus is that Steve Dillon handles the art chores. Dude's awesome.
Back in the present, things are poppin' in San Francisco and on Utopia, just a few miles off the coast. The X-MEN: BLIND SCIENCE one-shot features the X-Club, that tiny cadre of brilliant minds that Cyclops often relies on for his science needs. Dr. Nemesis, Dr. Kavita Rao, and that kooky guy Madison Jeffries are yanked forward to a terrifying future in which Hope's powers had run amok and devastated the world. Paul Davidson draws the story okay. Simon Spurrier writes the story, and it's a shame that early on he pretty much gives away the plot twist.
I'm not that familiar with the X-Club, so I'm not sure if Dr. Nemesis is normally this strident and bullying, but the way he was browbeating Dr. Rao, well, the most satisfying bit in this story - for me, anyway - may well be in seeing Dr. Nemesis get taken down a peg or two, and by none other than Dr. Rao herself. If you're a fan of the X-Men's science team, then X-MEN: BLIND SCIENCE is worth reading. Kavita Rao is the central character here, with Dr. Nemesis acting the lout and Madison Jeffries portrayed as this seemingly brain-addled non-entity. You get to see these three characters in action, and without the more generic superheroes hovering over them and cramping their style. And when I say "see them in action," what I mean is that they flee a lot and squabble and then Dr. Rao applies her wits. Ultimately, this story feels like a filler and doesn't really add anything to the Second Coming saga. But I certainly wouldn't mind seeing the X-Club off on their own outing again, with a hopefully more comprehensible Madison Jeffries.
Continuity-wise, the X-MEN: HELLBOUND limited series falls smackdab in the middle of the Second Coming storyline. What had happened was this: When Illyana Rasputin (a.k.a. Magik) tried to teleport Hope and Cable to safety, her attempt was sabotaged and she ended up trapped in the demonic Limbo dimension. With the X-Men readying themselves for Bastion's all-out assault on Utopia, it's up to Sam Guthrie (a.k.a. Cannonball) to assemble a team to rescue Magik, except that none of the team members handpicked by Cannonball is a heavy hitter (Cyclops hogged for himself the most powerful X-Men because of, you know, Bastion's impending all-out assault). Sam Guthrie is gonna wish he'd brought a bunch of heavy hitters. He'll also wish he'd left Gambit behind. And, as always, Pixie isn't too shy of voicing her mean opinion of Illyana. Chris Yost writes and Harvey Tolibao & Tom Raney provide the pencils in this action-packed, demon-stomping, Illyana Rasputin-bashing, Cannonball's leadership skills-doubting adventure. I liked it.
Meanwhile, in the Big Apple... No, X-Factor hasn't joined the X-Men and the rest of the mutants on Utopia. Yes, X-Factor still hangs its shingle in New York, still runs a legitimate investigations firm. But X-Factor is comprised of mutants (and Rictor), and so Bastion, that Super-Sentinel doofus from the future, will not tolerate X-Factor's existence. Thus, the MRD (Mutant Response Division) is tasked to take out Maddox and company... except that the Multiple Man has a bit of clever in him. A unit is even deployed to South America after Monet and Strong Guy, both of whom have gone to rescue Monet's kidnapped father (except that they then ran into Baron Mordo). Peter David, who's been terrific for a long, long time now (and he's somehow made Shatterstar interesting), contributes the text captions and the word and thought bubbles for one of the most overlooked titles in Marvel. Valentine de Landro brings the visuals, and he doesn't suck. I have to say that I've really enjoyed the Second Coming event, and these tie-in side stories we get here are fairly enjoyable stuff. Mostly.