Credits: Scott Lobdell (writer), Whilce Portacio (pencils), Scott Williams (inks), Tom Orzechowski (letters), Joe Rosas (colors)
Storm continues to tutor Bishop, making Forge jealous. Mystique, staying as a guest at the mansion, antagonizes Archangel and upsets Bishop and Storm. Forge defends Mystique and is confronted by Storm. They discuss their relationship and Forge proposes to her. Meanwhile, Iceman introduces his girlfriend Opal to his parents and is interrupted by Hiro. Another group of strange men appear, declaring that Iceman’s parents must die.
The characterization of Iceman’s father as a bigot begins here. This apparently contradicts his previous appearances, which bothers some fans to this day.
This is the debut of Scott Lobdell as plotter, after only scripting the previous issues. Whilce Portacio is still around as artist, but isn’t given any plot credit. I don’t know if he was removed from plotting based on his previous performance, or if Lobdell took over to give him more time to draw. There are a lot of missing backgrounds in this issue, and several pages where the characters just seem to be floating on white space. I don’t know if Portacio was going for that look, or if it was the result of tight deadlines. At any rate, this reads like a very different comic than the previous issues, with no action scenes at all and a heavy focus on characterization. Lobdell seems to realize where this title has gone wrong, and even has characters acknowledge that haven’t even spoken to one another for months. This seems to be a strange meta-commentary, and it’s not really necessary. Since the Portacio issues took place right after one another, it really hasn’t been “several months” since the characters interacted, it’s just been several months since the readers saw this in a comic. He could’ve just picked where the character arcs left off, but instead it’s now a plot point that no one’s addressed Archangel’s depression, or that Forge and Storm don’t speak. I can appreciate what he’s trying to do, but it actually makes the X-Men out to be heartless and a lot less likable.
An issue set aside to focus on character subplots is exactly what this title needs after so many months of non-stop (nonsensical) action, but it’s impossible to relate to the way anyone’s portrayed. Forge comes across like a moody teenager, and Storm acts almost like a robot, so it’s hard to really care about their relationship. Iceman’s father could potentially be interesting, but his portrayal goes so far it stretches any credibility. Why would he dress up and go out to dinner in a fancy restaurant just to insult his son’s Asian girlfriend? If he had such a problem with their relationship, why did he go agree to dinner in the first place? Wouldn’t he just stay at home (or is he going to dinner out of active maliciousness)? If he’s such a jerk that he would go out of his way to call interracial dating “vulgar”, why on Earth is Iceman introducing Opal to him in the first place? He’s only now finding out that his dad is racist? The soap opera elements seem to be as poorly thought-out as the action elements in the previous issues.