Tuesday, June 23, 2015

X-Men: First Class II by Jeff Parker Volume 2

The second volume for Jeff Parker's irresistibly fun series in its second season, continues the winning streak of finely crafted action-adventure tales centered on the promising Original Core Five (whom I fondly fall OCF). The stories included for this volume are some of my favorities in the entire title run, particularly issues #8 and #10 which dealt with some grea character exposition about Jean Grey and Scott Summers respectively. 

In issue #8 illustrated by guest artist Eric Nguyen, we see a darker take of events in the future which is probably the farthest Parker can take this general-audience series into grimmer territories, metaphorically and quite literally which was a refreshing pace for once.

While in a mission, the X-Men encounter Man-Thing and they were transported into different timelines of human history in one blink of existence at a time. There were warriors on winged horses, Nazis on ships, etc. For a time the five of them managed to fight theit way through,  that was until present and future started blending together and the team lost Bobby and Jean in the midst of the commotion. And if they don't find them before dimensions start closing up, they might lose them forever. It's an exciting race against time as they try to save their valued friends.

The real draw of this issue has to be the climactic revelations concerning the possible grim futures awaiting Jean and Bobby; worlds in which Jean becomes the Dark Phoenix as she slays everybody in her wake. Meanwhile, Bobby becomes a cruel Frost Giant and battles the Mighty Thor. The present young versions of these two somehow united with these grim future manifestations and the rest of the heroes have to find a way to pull them out while not freaking out as they watch their friends literally becomes nightmarish monsters. Fortunately enough, they were successful in saving both of them but Bobby and Jean also remembered what happened and are now going to carry those revelations from now on. It's up to them to decide if those futures will come true. After all, their choices will determine who they will become someday. 

Issue #10 is all about Scott Summers. For this installment, we finally get a story where Scott is the sole central figure which was odd in itself because you'd think a single character can't carry an entire plot by himself but if there is anyone who can do it then I suppose it has to be Scott. The reason why everyone else is out of commission is because the four youngsters got some awful case of stomach flu and Scott was already sent in a solo mission by the professor so he did not get sick. 

The professor wanted to train him separate from everyone else because he was confident in Scott's abilities and as soon as they figured out together what Cyclops is up against, Xavier maintains that he wouldn't have chosen anyone else but him. It has always been apparent that Xavier is training Scott to one day take over when he's gone so sending him out on his own was only necessary. I'm also glad that he has an open communication with Xavier here the entire time.

In this mission, Scott learns that there are dangers to always having your guard up. The truth is, he needs to be less cautious and more sensitive to other needs and to stop treating himself like a walking hazard. It's just heartbreaking that when he did eventually get over this insecurity, he gains a less than optimistic perspective on his powers and leadership and became the harsher and inflexible semi-villain he is today in comics. So I was happy to be reminded of a young Scott, brimming with potentials. I really missed this version of him and I really want to keep reading this series just so I can hold onto this Scott Summers a little longer, if possible.

This volume is definitely a stronger collection than the first one for this season.


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