The Killing Time
Credits: Fabian Nicieza (writer), Andy Kubert (penciler), Matt Ryan (inker), Bill Oakley (letterer), Kevin Somers (colorist)
Twenty years in the past, Legion and Storm’s team of X-Men have arrived in Israel. The trip through time has left all of them with amnesia. Storm and the rest of the X-Men know their names and powers, but remember nothing else. Legion is being treated at the same hospital where Xavier is helping his mother, Gabrielle Haller. Magneto is working as an orderly and has befriended Xavier, but they haven’t revealed to one another that they’re mutants. When Legion is exposed to Magneto’s internal anguish, his powers erupt. Magneto finds Xavier, and when they return to Legion’s room, they see his body is in flames, with images of the future flashing above him. In the present, Xavier and the rest of the X-Men call Cable and Domino for help rescuing Storm’s team. Cable tells Xavier that he can’t time travel because his equipment is in the bottom of the ocean. Suddenly, Lilandra appears with a group of Watchers, warning that Legion’s actions in the past threaten all reality.
Beast reminds Gambit that he’s still field leader, even though Cyclops is there. I’m not sure why exactly Nicieza is continuing this plot, since it certainly seems as if Cyclops is back for good.
Cable’s “Time Displacement Core” has been at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean since X-Force #22.
The scenes with Professor Xavier, Magneto, and Gabrielle Haller place this story at some point during the flashbacks in Uncanny X-Men #161.
Xavier has a comically exaggerated smile on the top panel on page twenty-three. He’s responding to hearing Magneto’s psychic cry for help, so I don’t know why this would thrill him so much. I wonder if Kubert intended this to be a smile, or if it just ended up that way after the art was inked and colored (it’s possible that the lines on Xavier’s face were misinterpreted as a smile somewhere along the way).
The story slows down in this chapter, effectively recapping the events of the first installment while taking the time to reestablish Xavier’s past with Magneto. This could’ve been tedious padding, but Nicieza’s able to make it work. Since a large portion of this story hinges on an issue of UXM from the early ‘80s that many readers probably hadn't read, taking the time to properly introduce this era in Xavier’s past is a reasonable decision. Nicieza has a firm handle on the characterizations, and does a great job on the scene where Legion accidentally exposes Magneto’s memories. (I’d like to take this time to congratulate Fabian Nicieza on his 100th tag on this blog. What an accomplishment!) Kubert does a fine job on the art, turning in one of his strongest issues so far. He handles dozens of characters but his work never looks rushed or half-hearted. I also remember the coloring in this issue really stood out when I first read it, and it still looks impressive almost fourteen years later.