Smoke and Mirrors
Credits: Fabian Nicieza (writer), Andy Kubert (penciler), Matt Ryan (inker), Bill Oakley (letterer), Kevin Somers (colorist)
Beast discovers that the Legacy Virus has mutated into three strains, enabling it to infect humans. Iceman and Rogue discuss his recent possession by Emma Frost, while Psylocke and Phoenix spar in the Danger Room. Cyclops then takes over the Danger Room to give Sabretooth an exercise drill. Gambit tricks Cyclops into leaving the control booth, and then sets the Danger Room on a lethal setting. After watching Sabretooth defend himself for a few minutes, Gambit finally confronts him, telling him that he’s not going to revert into the person he used to be. Xavier discusses the loss of his classified information with Bishop, while Beast tries to reassure Iceman. Finally, Xavier reflects upon the future with Cyclops and Phoenix.
Sabretooth threatens to tell the X-Men about a “sinister” chapter in Gambit’s past. This is the first direct hint that Gambit has a past with Mr. Sinister.
Adam X visits Hazard in prison, asking about Milbury (a.k.a. Mr. Sinister). He claims that Milbury worked with Hazard’s father in the past. Hazard’s response is to ask Charles Xavier about him. Since Xavier’s father worked with Hazard’s, this is obviously an attempt to tie Sinister to Professor Xavier’s father, but I don’t think anything came of it.
The first in-story hint of the Age of Apocalypse storyline begins when Legion has a vision of Destiny in his sleep.
Psylocke has a very short haircut in this issue. The story even draws attention to it out by having Jean remark that she impulsively cut ten inches of her hair off. I think the short hair makes one more appearance and is then totally forgotten about. Maybe they thought it wasn’t feminine enough for a character so rooted in cheesecake.
Professor Xavier says that he lost all of his private files when Banshee was forced to destroy them during the Phalanx attack. He tells Bishop that he made no copies for security reasons, not even for Muir Island's records. He suggests that Commcast might be able to retrieve the data. This is another forgotten subplot.
This is the four hundredth quiet, post-crossover issue of an X-book. It does set the stage for a few subplots, but considering that half of them go nowhere, it’s hard to get too worked up about most of this. The first hints of an Iceman/Rogue relationship begin here, but this turns out to be another plotline that fizzles out. There’s a lot of interaction between the characters in this issue, but I don’t find most of it that interesting. A lot of the dialogue is filled with cryptic bits like “…Ah can’t run anymore from who Ah was…if it means Ah keep runnin’ away from who Ah wanna be”, which is either really deep or just nonsense. The moment where Gambit tells Sabretooth that he refuses to go back to the person he used to be turns out to be the best scene in the book, and it’s only five pages or so. Andy Kubert’s art is really strong, though, and it’s helped a lot by the improved paper quality and color separations.