Here’s the second half of Matthew Rosenberg’s story and it doesn’t quite nail the same entertainingly downbeat vibe that the first one had. That’s mainly because the story goes off in a lot of different directions in vol. 2. From funerals for friends, to finding out what Emma Frost has been scheming, to fighting forgotten also-rans like Fabian Cortez and Shinobi Shaw, and to dealing with Gen. Callahan as he marshalls the forces of the Office of National Emergency against the remaining mutants. It lacks the enchanting feeling that things were winding down for the X-Men that I liked in vol. 1, mainly because Rosenberg feels the need to throw in more stuff as he ramps things up for the finish.
That finish does come with one big hitch, however. Emma pulls off a pretty impressive trick at the end of the penultimate issue that saves all the mutants’ bacon, but at a cost that not everyone thinks is worth it. I’ll admit that what she does here is pretty ballsy from a narrative perspective and it sets up a question that’s pretty relevant to the X-Men’s ideals: Is it better to hide and survive or reveal yourself and be at war for the rest of your life? Sadly, the question is a complete non-starter coming as late in the game as it does. We all know what the answer is going to be (what with the relaunch just around the corner…)
Rosenberg would’ve been better off posing this setup and the question it asks at the start of his run since he would’ve had more time to delve into its implications. As it is, we’re left with a mostly decent filler storyline with mostly decent art. Salvador Larroca (and David Messina) only does the back half while Carloses Gomez and Villa (and Bob Quinn) handle the first half. The art’s fine for what it is, though you can tell the accelerated serialization of this arc was wearing everyone down. It all adds up to a storyline that’s probably a little better than something that’s for completists only, except they’re the ones who’ll get the most out of dissecting its quirks and weird nods to dusty old continuity.