Credits: Scott Lobdell (writer), Andy Kubert (penciler), Cam Smith (inker), Kevin Somers & Malibu’s Hues (colors), Richard Starkings & Comicraft (lettering)
Gambit takes Bishop to an underground casino, while Iceman accompanies Phoenix to a bookstore. Iceman asks Phoenix to scan his mind to find out if Emma Frost is still in there. Phoenix doubts that she is, telling him that his insecurities about his powers are probably the cause of his visions. Suddenly, childlike versions of Storm and Iceman come out of hiding. Meanwhile, Gambit asks Bishop if he still thinks he’ll betray the X-Men, and Bishop replies yes. He adds that many of the things he thought were true have been proven false since he came to this time, so he’s allowed Gambit to live so far. The gamblers notice something underneath the tables. They kick them over and discover the X-Babies versions of Cyclops, Rogue, Gambit, Bishop, and Archangel. The gamblers pull guns on the kids, which leads to Gambit and Bishop rescuing them. The X-Babies explain that the new regime of Mojoverse has canceled them, as Gog and Magog appear from behind.
Bishop has cut his luxurious mullet and appears with short hair for the first time in this issue (the Bishop who lived through the AoA was bald, which might’ve inspired the change).
There are two brief subplot scenes, one involving Magneto and the other providing more cryptic Onslaught hints. The Magneto scene simply has him waking up in a shack in an undisclosed location. It’s really just a tease for the next issue of Uncanny. The other subplot has Senator Kelly and a group of government agents investigating a secret Sentinel research facility in the Midwest. They claim that fifteen scientists have suddenly disappeared. Senator Kelly is especially upset that one named Evan Donner is missing. The electricity suddenly returns inside the fake farmhouse, as the word “Onslaught” appears repeatedly on the computer monitors.
This begins the brief era that has Lobdell writing both of the main X-books. This lasts for a few months until Mark Waid’s brief run, then Lobdell returns again to write both titles. I seem to recall thinking that his first attempt at doing both books was tolerable, but his post-Waid stint was atrocious. This is a mostly light-hearted issue that combines a little bit of action with Lobdell’s typical conversation scenes. A lot of the conversations, especially Iceman and Phoenix’s, mainly just reiterate ongoing storylines, but Gambit and Bishop make for a decent odd couple pairing. It’s odd that the writers rarely put Gambit and Bishop together after it was revealed that Bishop was convinced that Gambit would betray the team. You would think that’s something that would’ve come up more often. Instead of highlighting the tension between the characters, they just ended up ignoring one another for a couple of years until this issue. Thankfully, Lobdell at least acknowledges the subplot and gets something out of it. Bishop coldly telling Gambit that he still thinks he’s guilty and is willing to kill him if he has to is a very effective scene. The X-Babies barely do anything in this issue, but they have enough of a presence to let you know that Lobdell isn’t taking these issues too seriously and is just trying to have some fun. I don’t find anything involving the X-Babies to be that amusing so far, but I like the overall tone of this issue. The story’s very obviously padded, though, as it’s filled with gratuitous splash pages and oversized panels. It makes the story feel even more thin, even if Andy Kubert’s art excels with the giant images.