Credits: Larry Hama (writer), Adam Kubert (breakdowns), Karl Kessel/Dan Green/Chris Warner (finishes), Pat Brosseau (lettering), Mike Thomas (colors)
Weapon X and Jean Grey go on a mission for the Human High Council to infiltrate Apocalypse’s Great Sea Wall in the Atlantic. They ride on a Sentinel, which is spotted by Apocalypse’s Infinite soldiers when its radar-jammer burns out. When the Infinite soldiers learn that two alpha-level mutants are on board, they send out a call for one of Apocalypse’s alpha-mutants. Jean sends Weapon X to eliminate the control center while she waits for the mutant presence she senses to arrive. Havok responds to the Infinite’s call and confronts Jean. Weapon X quickly disables the control center and returns to stop Havok from killing Jean. They escape on the Sentinel, but Havok follows. The Sentinel shoots off its hands, grabbing Havok and sending him through a teleporting transporter. Meanwhile, Cyclops informs Apocalypse that two mutant couriers have brought information given to them by Sinister to the Human High Council. McCoy sends a message to Apocalypse, telling him that Havok requires surgery to remove the Sentinel hand that’s been merged with his body after his fight with Weapon X. Apocalypse theorizes that Weapon X and Jean Grey are Sinister’s couriers. In London, the Human High Council meets to discuss the information Sinister sent them. They now know that Apocalypse’s peace proposals with humans in America are a diversion to cover his plans to attack Europe. They discuss a “doomsday strike” against North America. Suddenly, Magma appears and attacks the Council. She’s stopped by Weapon X, but not before she wounds Brian Braddock. Angered, Braddock says that Project Scorched Earth must be initiated.
Weapon X is, of course, this world’s version of Wolverine (he must’ve dropped the hyphen some time after the X-Men Chronicles stories). His partner is Jean Grey, whom he suspects only loves him out of gratitude for saving her from “the pens”. In a previous battle with Cyclops, Weapon X lost his hand and Cyclops lost his eye.
The Human High Council members are revealed to be Brian Braddock, Moira (MacTaggert) Trask, Bolivar Trask, Emma Frost, and Mariko Yashida. Psylocke also appeared in the background with the rest of the Council in X-Men Alpha.
According to a comment Alan Davis made in the first issue of Rough Stuff magazine, the X-editors always wanted him to draw Wolverine and Jean Grey making out on a cover during his run. When he asked why, he was told that the “fans” would go nuts over it. I guess Marvel used the AoA event to give the audience what it thought they wanted, as Wolverine and Jean now get their own series together. The appeal of Wolverine and Jean together is kind of lost on me, but Hama does a decent job with the pairing. Having Wolverine suspect that she feels gratitude more than real love is a good idea that at least introduces some complexity to their relationship.
This is an action-heavy issue, but it also manages to move the storyline along. The pair’s mission at the start of the issue is a little unclear, but since it mainly serves to re-introduce the characters and allude to more backstory, it doesn’t bother me too much (at least it’s not another training session). If the idea is that they’re disrupting the base so that the Sentinels can reach America undetected, that’s ground already covered in Amazing X-Men #1. This could be the first continuity disconnect within the AoA titles, but since their mission is so vague in the first place, it’s hard to say. At the very least, the opening action scene gives Adam Kubert a lot of cool things to draw. I like his interpretation of the new Sentinels and Havok’s redesign especially. The three inkers don’t really mesh well, but most of the pages come out looking fine.
Hama continues to interject realistic elements into his stories, even when the title has been removed even further from the real world. A lot of the opening dialogue in this issue combines military speak and technological jargon with varying degrees of success. The Infinites don’t just say “The Sentinel’s broken through our defenses”; instead it’s, “The Sentinel must be running a fifth generation passive ECM suite! It is invading all weapons tracking systems and has penetrated our inner perimeter!” Havok doesn’t just complain about teleporting, he gripes, “You had me go through molecular disincorporation, risk the E.M. distortion wave and risk cellular-mapping reconstruction…”. It’s one of his writing quirks that I actually do enjoy, but it’s pretty heavy in this issue. The meeting of the Human High Council also tries to apply real world politics into the new reality, with the characters debating the merits of preemptive strikes and nuclear attacks. This scene feels more organic, although the selection of the Council members is odd. It’s pretty convenient that they’re all established X-characters, isn’t it? (And why on earth would Mariko Yashida be a member?) It seems like the Council became a dumping ground for the X-characters that couldn’t be worked into any of the main titles (and don’t ask me to explain how a few mutant characters ended up on the Human High Council). The actions of the Council will actually have large consequences that impact the entire event as the months go on. After Hama finished playing with the repercussions of Wolverine losing the adamantium, his solo title started to feel somewhat aimless, so it’s nice to see the AoA crossover give the title some direction.