Credits: Warren Ellis (writer), Larry Stroman w/Darrick Gross, Ken Lashley, & Jeff Moy (pencilers), Cam Smith w/Darrick Gross, Tom Wegrzyn, Phil Moy, Don Hudson, & Jimmy Palmiotti (inkers), Joe Rosas and Digital Chameleon (colors), Comicraft (lettering)
Peter Wisdom receives a request for help from his friend, a fellow Black Air operative named Cully. Shadowcat volunteers to take Wisdom to London in the team’s Midnight Runner plane, mainly to keep an eye on him. They arrive in London and investigate one of Cully’s hideouts. He’s missing, but the words “I’m losing my body” are written on the wall. His apartment is littered with papers with odd designs drawn all over them. On Muir Island, Moira discusses with Professor Xavier how a hacker could’ve broken into Muir Island’s database and leaked information about her Legacy Virus infection. She then explains to the rest of Excalibur how the Legacy Virus mutated and infected her. Meanwhile, Britanic devises a laser pen that will be used to house the mutant killer Spoor during his sessions with Rory Campbell. At a spy hangout, Wisdom learns that Cully has died. They soon view his body at the morgue, where the coroner reveals that he died of a mysterious disease. The coroner tells Wisdom that Scicluna, his boss at Black Air, is trying to cover up the death. As Wisdom and Shadowcat leave the morgue, they’re attacked by two armed men. After they’re subdued, Wisdom pulls Black Air IDs out of their wallets.
This is the start of a three-part storyline, which serves to flesh out Peter Wisdom as a character and introduce his romance with Kitty Pryde. This issue is mainly setting up the mystery of what happened to Cully while giving Wisdom and Shadowcat some room to play off of each other. Ellis is good at giving the characters personality, so even if the plot moves pretty leisurely, the story isn’t dull. The rest of the issue is dedicated to acknowledging some of the ongoing storylines that involve Muir Island. Ellis spends quite a bit of time justifying how Muir Island was hacked and how Moira was infected, leading me to believe that someone somewhere thought that these storylines were actually going somewhere. Some obscure continuity is dredged up, as Ellis revives the idea that Muir Island was created as a rehabilitation center for rogue mutants, an idea that I think had been ignored after its first appearance. This leads into a storyline involving Spoor, one of the multitude of Acolytes who hadn’t been developed yet. I like the way Ellis is using what already exists in the X-universe while adding some new elements, so it doesn’t feel as if the book is totally divorced from its roots. Larry Stroman draws the majority of the issue, although the pages are randomly divided amongst three other artists, so you end up with a three-page fight scene with two pencilers. None of the styles blend at all, which is distracting (although it’s hard to think of any artist that can fit in easily with Stroman’s unique look). I think this was Stroman’s return to Marvel after his attempts at a creator-owned series didn’t go very far. His art is even more exaggerated than his X-Factor run, which leaves many of the characters virtually unrecognizable. It’s still an interesting style, but he’s starting to border on self-parody on a few pages.