Book two of X-Men: The End, written by Chris Claremont, begins immediately where issue six and book one left off. Cyclops and the others are shown, in the aftermath of the complete destruction of the Xavier Institute, trying to piece together a damage report, tend to the wounded, and mount a defense against a clandestine enemy. Numerous plot threads and questions left unanswered in the finale of book one are addressed in this issue, such as X-Force, Gambit and Mr. Sinister, and, to some extent, the Warskrulls purpose.
What was good?
This issue is, in a way, everything that issue six of book one is not (aside from the fact that they are both excellent); whereas issue six, book one was all action and less about explanation, book two starts out by addressing many plot threads and unanswered questions that readers, including myself, had from the first book. Claremont and Chen also do a great job in this issue of depicting the desperation of some of these encounters, especially with regard to the scenes with Xavier and Domino (you just have to feel sorry for her at this point). Add that to another stellar cover by Greg Land, solid penciling, and spot-on characterization by Claremont, and you have a really great issue that explains a 'lot and still healthily advances the plot. Extra kudos to Claremont and Chen for the breathtaking "Alpha Flight" scene, and to Cyclops crossing out mutant portraits as he assesses the damage.
What was bad?
I really have to struggle to come up with something bad about this issue. I will settle by saying that nothing was bad, but that certain things could have worked better. For starters, I am a little disappointed that the first two or so issues featured Aliyah as a very important character, but we have not had hardly any exposure to her at all for the last four or five issues. I also wish that Claremont would have more clearly stated the true purpose of the Warskrulls--maybe give us another scene with that Chancellor. Also, what happened to the Brood?
What was ugly?
Okay, I love Greg Land and his covers for this series, but I find Storm's outfit to be a little excessive. I find it hard to believe that one who flies around in the air at whirlwind speed would wear a strapless (bra-less?) "V-cut" suit and not have any "wardrobe malfunctions." In addition to the cover, the page where Phoenix and Xavier are communicating is downright ugly. It consists of over thirty different colored bubbles, winding around the page, but you know what? As ugly as it is, it works. I did not have a problem with it at all. It may be different for you.
What's the verdict?
4.5/5. I wanted to give this issue a perfect score, but the issues I address in the "bad" section above are real concerns I have for this series as a whole--and they are important to address. While this issue is a great start to addressing them, it does not cover all the bases. Still highly recommended.