Credits: Scott Lobdell (writer), Joe Madureira (penciler), Green/Candelario (inkers), Chris Eliopoulos (letterers), Steve Buccellato (colorist)
The Phalanx chases Storm and Yukio through Manhattan, seriously injuring Yukio in Times Square. After Storm fails to save an interfering civilian from the Phalanx, she tries freezing it, causing parts of it to shatter. Gambit arrives on his motorcycle, crashing it into the Phalanx. It tries to assimilate the motorcycle to gain more mass, but Gambit throws a charged playing card at it, igniting the motorcycle’s gasoline. Storm, Gambit, and Yukio escape the explosion, but Storm can barely continue. While recovering at the Sea, Air, and Space museum, a woman claiming to be from the National Security Council arrives. The X-Men soon learn that she is also a part of the Phalanx, as more reinforcements arrive. Meanwhile, Beast revives Iceman at the mansion, but Xavier suspects that Emma Frost might be involved with his condition.
This is the first full appearance of the Phalanx, techno-organic villains inspired by the Warlock and Magnus characters from New Mutants.
Yukio reveals that she’s a member of Xavier’s Mutant Underground, his group of humans secretly working to help mutants. She also reveals that she knows Gambit from a past encounter in Milan and suspects that he will betray the X-Men. The Phalanx claims that Gambit is wanted by Interpol.
Joe Madureira debuts as the new artist with this issue (although the letters page only lists him as a guest artist). Madureira’s run on UXM will lead off the 1990’s second wave of cartoonish style art in superhero comics, culminating in the abortive Cliffhanger line. By the time the new decade began, guys like Ed McGuinnes and Mike Wieringo were drawing the Superman books. It wouldn’t last, though, as most editors embraced a more photorealistic look as the decade went on (and, for some reason, DC editors became enamored with Image’s look circa 1996). Madureira has a more blatant anime/manga influence than the popular artists before him, which will only get stronger as his run progresses. I liked his stuff as a teenager, and most of it still holds up. There’s a lot of energy on the pages, without a lot of the ugly crosshatching and scowling faces that were popular at the time. He’s one of the few artists who can pull off the Sienkiewicz-inspired Phalanx look, which is impressive when you consider that this is one of his first comics jobs (I think he was only twenty when he drew this).
This is an all-action issue, as Lobdell tries his best to sell the Phalanx as a major villain. It (or they) seems impressive in this issue, but by the time the Phalanx show up in the next crossover, I was already sick of it (them?). Lobdell captures the feeling of a non-stop action movie pretty well, and Madureira’s art makes it seem as if this an X-Men anime that should’ve been made but wasn’t. Lobdell’s characterizations for Storm and Gambit work, but for some reason he seems to think that Yukio is some sort of valley girl. After a string of mostly quiet issues, and one issue based mainly on suspense but not action, this is a nice change of pace.