Credits: Fabian Nicieza (writer), Art Thibert (art), Dan Panosian (art assist), Joe Rosas and Marie Javins (colorists), Lois Buhalis with Tom Orzechowski (letters)
The X-Men travel to the abandoned Almagordo facility to find Professor Xavier. Ryking is frustrated that Xavier didn’t believe the file he sent him about Almagordo’s secret activities. The X-Men arrive and Ryking immediately fights them. Cyclops knocks out the mechanism on Ryking’s arms, inadvertently causing his powers to unleash an explosion. Everyone survives, but Xavier feels Ryking doesn’t have any answers about his father, so they leave Almagordo. Meanwhile, Stryfe continues to collect artifacts that resemble Apocalypse.
Stryfe refers to Apocalypse as the “Sinner of Time”, and that he will “steal his past the way he has stolen my future”.
Ryking tries to convince Xavier that his father’s death “went beyond Kurt Marko”. Marko was another co-worker of Xavier’s father, and later Xavier’s stepfather. As established by Stan Lee in the original issues, Marko killed Brain Xavier in a scheme to marry his wife and take her inheritance. Marko is also the father of the Juggernaut.
An old piece of paper in Almagordo reads “Shiva Scenario – Committee Evaluation Report” written by Kurt Marko, Alexander Ryking, and Brian Xavier. Shiva is the robotic program designed by the Weapon X project to eliminate members of the program who go rogue.
Rogue and Wolverine discover a hidden sub-level, then travel up the stairs to investigate it.
I Love the ‘90s
Jubilee complains that she’s being interrupted from “woofin’ it up” with Arsenio.
More filler until the crossover begins. If the mysteries introduced in this issue ever went anywhere, I could be more charitable, but since this all turned out to be vague clues that never added up to much, this storyline is just pointless. If you have two issues to kill before a crossover, why waste it on introducing yet another mysterious character making more vague allegations about somebody’s past? This stuff is pretty tedious at this point. I think these mystery storylines kept going in the X-books because a younger, less cynical audience had actual faith that this stuff was going somewhere. I know I did. Some people have speculated that there was an actual policy that these mysteries shouldn’t be resolved; that the kids would just quit reading if they got all of the answers. I don’t know if that’s true, but I can say that each new mystery pushed an old one out of my head. By the time I read this story, I wasn’t thinking about Fitzroy’s mysterious connection to the White Queen, for example. And by the time Gambit hinted at a connection with Mr. Sinister, I wasn’t thinking about Almagordo anymore.
Even if you want to enjoy this as a dumb action comic, you can’t. The X-Men barely face Ryking (or “Hazard” as the covers call him). Most of the issue consists of Ryking yelling to Xavier about his pain, and the X-Men running around an abandoned building. The fight consists of Beast kicking Ryking, Cyclops blasting his arm, and then his “energies” exploding. Rogue and Wolverine are captured by Ryking off-panel, and after being shown trapped in his energy field, are suddenly free again when the scene shifts back to them. Everything about this issue is just that sloppy. Hazard says that he needs this high-tech “firing mechanism” to channel his “energies” – where did he get this thing? He’s been in the hospital since he was a little boy, how does he break free and suddenly have this futuristic armor? I imagine that being hospitalized for most of his life also would’ve prevented him from finding secret files about his father and mailing them to Xavier. Why does Xavier say that Almagordo has no answers after discovering so many secret levels to the base? Why not at least explore them? What would it hurt to search the debris? The X-Men just leave as classified documents fly all around them. One of them shows that Xavier’s father was actually involved in something suspicious, which makes the X-Men look like idiots for not even checking around them.