Credits: Jim Lee (plot), Whilce Portacio (art), Art Thibert (finishes), Scott Lobdell (script), Joe Rosas (colors),Tom Orzechowski and Lois Buhalis (letters)
Mikhail Rasputin explains to the X-Men that the Russian government faked his death in order to cover up the existence of his mutant powers. After exploring the dimensional void on Sakhalin Island, Mikhail was stranded in the Triumvirate’s world. After marrying into the royal family, he discovered that the Triumvirate had murdered his crew. He joined a group of rebels and used his energy warping power to close the void that powered the Triumvirate. The energy this released killed his wife and the rest of the rebels. Now, he is unwilling to use his powers to close the void again. The X-Men fight a brainwashed Archangel and the Triumvirate’s soldiers. Sunfire’s nuclear blast converts Archangel, and Mikhail is convinced that by joining powers with the team, no one will be hurt. Mikhail and The X-Men close the void and return to Earth.
This is Scott Lobdell’s first scripting issue, the one he famously did overnight. In terms of quality, it’s on the same level as the John Byrne issues before it. The story goes that Lobdell got this job at the office Christmas party, and the date key on the subscription page reads “Jan-92”, which says a lot about the deadline issues this book faced.
The way the credits are written, it’s hard to tell if Portacio is still co-plotting.
According to the Statement of Ownership, sales went from around 460,625 to 599,300 in one year. Another X-title that gained over 100,000 readers in one year.
The best issue in this story arc, which isn’t saying much. There are still some things that aren’t very clear, like what exactly the void is supposed to be powering, and why the Triumvirate would be willing to let it destroy their world. Mikhail Rasputin is given a three-page origin sequence that takes forever to describe and doesn’t explain why exactly he was spared and his crew was murdered.
This is the first issue of this run to have some type of character drama. Mikhail is consumed by guilt after accidentally killing his wife and friends, and unwilling to risk using his powers again. Colossus is disillusioned to see that the older brother he idolized now seems to be a coward. Mikhail must conquer his fears and do what he knows is right. For the first time in five issues, this series has an actual character arc. Unfortunately, it’s marred by the nonsensical ending that requires the X-Men’s powers to work in ridiculous ways, and doesn’t actually require any sacrifice from Mikhail. But still, the plot is almost back to professional standards.