"Second Coming" might have hit chapter three with this comic, but there’s no disguising that, technically, the story’s still in its first act. In this issue, the New Mutants attack a facility owned by The Right, while the Alpha Team. . . continue an attempt to catch up with Cable and Hope. For the third issue in a row.
Although "Messiah Complex" treated its books largely as mere vessels to contain instalments of a larger story, Zeb Wells seems to have a little more leeway to make this issue about the New Mutants specifically, and although not quite as neat a fit as last issue’s "Siege" tie-in, it feels about as much like a "New Mutants" issue as it could, given the circumstances.
Wells’ character work is strong, with all of the team members given a brief moment to shine, even if the focus remains mostly on Karma and Cannonball. The scenes where the New Mutants falter over Cyclops’ instructions are the strongest, especially levelled against an ongoing plot thread that is starting to point, fairly strongly, towards a schism within the X-Men where Cyclops’ leadership is rejected. At the moment, that’s actually what I’m finding most interesting about Second Coming -- the idea that Cyclops might actually crack under the pressure.
Ibrahim Roberson’s artwork is good overall, and generally even, although it would be fair to say that any weakness shown probably comes from the material he’s given. It is an issue-long fight scene, after all, and that makes it tough to keep things visually inventive for any artist. Wells comes up with some original uses of the New Mutants’ powers, but it’s not enough to prevent things getting a bit old even by the halfway point.
As far as the story beats go for the wider crossover, it all feels a little segregated from the main plot. Magik disappears (presumably into the “Hellbound” mini) and Karma’s final-page cliffhanger feels unimportant at best and artificial at work. When the stakes the X-Men are supposed to be playing for are so large, this kind of easily-resolved peril aimed at a character with no major connection to the story doesn’t quite work. There’s a brief moment with Rogue that promises to resolve a dangling thread from "Messiah Complex," however, and given that the next chapter appears in "X-Men Legacy," that might have made for a more intriguing ending.
Although it’s true that there’s nothing going massively wrong here (and to be fair, more interesting things happen in this comic than in the last chapter of "Second Coming") it’s still a bit hard to see where it’s all going. At the moment, the majority of X-Men are running around having fights that don’t resolve, and the forward momentum seems to be dwindling. It can just about get away with it on a weekly pace, but let’s hope something big happens soon.