Credits: Scott Lobdell (writer), Joe Madureira (penciler), Dan Green & Tim Townsend (inkers), Chris Eliopoulos (letterer), Steve Buccellato (colorist)
During a meeting of the X-Men, Blink and a wounded Sunfire suddenly teleport in. One of Apocalypse’s Prelates manages to partially emerge from the teleportation portal, bragging that he’s discovered the X-Men’s hidden base. Blink closes the portal on him, as Sunfire reports to Magneto. He tells Magneto that the culling of humans in Seattle was done with Apocalypse’s permission, despite his denials, and that Holocaust is performing more cullings. Later, Gambit tries to seduce Rogue before leaving on his mission, but he’s interrupted by Blink. Elsewhere, Nightcrawler questions Magneto’s belief in Bishop before leaving on his mission to find his mother. Finally, Rogue, Sabretooth, Wild Child, Morph, Blink, and Sunfire leave to stop the culling in Chicago, while the rest of the X-Men travel to Maine to assist the Sentinels in the human evacuation.
There are quite a few dialogue bits that hint at the universe’s new backstory. Rogue tells Gambit that Magneto is his best friend, while Gambit responds that he used to be. Blink tells Gambit that she won’t “feel better” while he’s still alive. Sunfire claims that his entire country was destroyed by Holocaust. Sabretooth says that he and Wild Child used to “run with” Holocaust.
Magneto sends Gambit on a mission to find the M’Kraan Crystal, tying in to the Gambit and the Externals series. Nightcrawler, for whatever reason, is still hanging around the mansion and hasn’t left on the mission given to him in X-Men Alpha yet.
While X-Men Alpha served to establish the new world, this issue sets up the specific storylines going on in most of the other X-books. There’s only one brief action scene, but it’s handled with a lot of enthusiasm by Madureira. This is his strongest issue yet (and the first one printed on the nicer paper, which means he missed four straight issues of UXM), as he pushes his manga influences even further while still delivering a solid superhero story. The new character designs, especially Sunfire’s, are well suited for his style. Lobdell helps to sell the event by having the characters refer to past events and make vague comments about one another, giving you the feeling that these X-Men have been around just as long as the “real” team. Splitting the characters up to go on various missions could be bland, tedious work, but Lobdell’s able to ease the movements pretty naturally into the dialogue. The character scenes with Rogue, Gambit, Blink, and Sunfire don’t feel contrived and help to make the story feel like more than just a random stunt. Even if this is mostly setup, it’s still a decent beginning for the new storyline.