Credits: Scott Lobdell (writer), Joe Madureira (penciler), Tim Townsend (inker), Steve Buccellato & Electric Crayon (colors), Richard Starkings & Comicraft (letters)
Phoenix performs a psi-scan on Sabretooth and learns that he mentally interpreted the holographic forest in the Danger Room as graphic depictions of animals killing each other. Professor Xavier confronts Sabretooth and sees that his old personality has emerged. Feeling that he’s done everything he can, Xavier contacts Valerie Cooper and arranges for him to be taken into federal custody. After he leaves, Boomer confronts Sabretooth about lying to her. He taunts her until she launches her time bombs at him. The explosion inadvertently frees him from his shackles. Psylocke rushes to save her, but learns that Sabretooth’s brain damage has erased the effect of her psychic “glow”. He nearly eviscerates Psylocke and then escapes.
Bishop is still struggling with his memories of the Age of Apocalypse. Cyclops theorizes that he and Phoenix had an easier time dealing with “time compression” after their time in future because of their psychic bond with one another. This is treated as if it’s going to be an important storyline, but it’s soon forgotten about.
Sabretooth claims that Cannonball wouldn’t love Boomer if he knew “what you used to be”. This ties in to issues of X-Force from around this time that imply that she might've been a prostitute, if I recall correctly.
Now, over two years after it began, the “Sabretooth lives with the X-Men” storyline ends. I remember really liking Madureira’s art when I first read this issue, but hating the story because it was such a cheat. After months of acting like a wounded animal, the real Sabretooth is back with no explanation. I would have an easier time buying this issue’s assertion that he was faking the whole time, if there hadn’t been a recent issue of Wolverine which showed that he really had been lobotomized, and if the third-person narrative captions in several other issues hadn’t claimed that he was truly changed. It’s possible that his healing factor healed his brain damage and that his personality began to secretly reemerge over the weeks, and that might even be what the creators intended, but it’s not clear at all here. It reads like someone at Marvel just decided that they liked Sabretooth better the other way, so he suddenly changes back in this issue. Outside of the aforementioned Wolverine issue, which briefly played up the irony that Sabretooth was now a domesticated housecat while Wolverine was growing nastier and alienating his friends, I really have no idea what the point of the “tame Sabretooth” arc was even supposed to be. It seems like it was an idea thrown out as shock value after the books returned from the AoA that just stuck around for a few months because no one knew where to go with it. Judged on its own, this issue does have a few decent moments. Lobdell is able to portray Xavier’s disappointment over his failure effectively, and he handles Sabretooth’s malicious dialogue pretty well. Like I mentioned earlier, Madureira’s artwork is very impressive for most of the issue, even though the first half of the story is packed with so many splash pages and giant panels, the Psyclocke fight gets cramped into a lot of tiny panels towards the end. As the conclusion to a long-running storyline, though, it’s an awkward finale that doesn’t even mesh with the issues published just a few weeks earlier. Unfortunately, this type of scattershot storytelling will continue throughout the post-AoA era.