While I liked the first volume of this title well enough, the second one leaves me feeling that this storyline has a real big problem to it. It’s not in how Charles Soule handles his large ensemble. He gets the characters more or less right and divides up the action so that no one of them feels neglected over the course of the volume. Neither is it in the six different artists who each handle a single issue in this collection. While they may lack the star power of those who contributed to the first volume, the reality-shifting nature of the threat posed by Proteus actually makes the artistic chaos work for the story rather than against it. The reasonably conventional styles of Phil Noto and Paolo Siqueria give way to the reality-bending work of Matteo Buffagni and (most impressively) Aco as Proteus makes his bid to give the people of the world what they want and the phantasmagorical hell that results from it. Ron Garney and Gerardo Sandoval then go on to split the difference as they bring the story to a close. A story that is ultimately about the return of Professor X, which is not a problem in itself either.
No, the biggest problem with Soule’s storyline is that he introduces a major new character in the returned Xavier, now calling himself X, and basically decides to let the creative community figure out what to do with him. X is the mind of Charles Xavier in the relinquished body of Fantomex and he doesn’t come off as anything like the Professor who founded and mentored the X-Men over the years. In fact, due to a last-page twist in the eleventh issue it’s really hard to say how much of his actual character we’re seeing in these issues. While Soule gets some credit for not simply bringing Xavier back wholesale and for trying to find a new angle on his character, his motives and purpose are left frustratingly opaque at the end of this volume. What Soule should’ve done is stick around for another twelve issues and given us (and by extension the creative community at Marvel) his take on what the character’s new dream is and how he’s going to interact with the other mutants out there. Unless someone actually sits down and does this kind of dirty work don’t expect X to have a very long or memorable shelf life as a character.