Credits: Scott Lobdell (plot), Mark Waid (script), Jeff Matsuda (penciler), Dan Panosian (inker), Kevin Somers & Malibu Hues (colors), Richard Starkings & Comicraft (lettering)
Bishop, who is growing increasingly unhinged, confronts waitress Pamela Greenwood. Beast, disguised by an image inducer, tries to stop him from tearing the restaurant down. Bishop slams him into a mirror and knocks him unconscious. When Bishop almost collapses, Pamela takes him home with her as the police arrive. When Bishop wakes up on her couch, he repeats his claim that she’s a spy. Dark Beast watches the events through the eyes of Pamela, who is secretly Fatale. He decides that allowing Bishop to live is too risky because he might regain his memories of the Age of Apocalypse. Fatale responds to Dark Beast’s order and knocks Bishop out of her window. Meanwhile, Beast turns off his image inducer in order to intimidate the police into letting him escape. He catches Bishop after he flies out of the window, and is quickly attacked by Fatale. She ruptures a gas line and escapes. Dark Beast watches in amazement on his monitors as he realizes that he has a counterpart in this reality. Elsewhere, both Gateway and Chamber disappear from Xavier’s school in Massachusetts. M tells Banshee that she only sensed the word “Onslaught” on Gateway’s mind before he disappeared.
As I’ve mentioned before, the waitress in this issue is supposed to be the woman Bishop recognized at Harry’s Hideaway in UXM #299. She looked familiar to him because Dark Beast “scraped” his mind and came up with Bishop’s image of the ideal woman. He claims that he wasn’t able to figure out Bishop’s “chronal blisters” (i.e., his memories of the AoA) the same way.
According to the Statement of Ownership, average sales for the year were 332,889 with the most recent issue selling 394,189 copies.
This issue is infamously dumb, and it’s just as weak as I remembered. It’s impossible to ignore just how ridiculous the Fatale retcon is, but I’ll try for a few seconds to talk about other aspects of this issue. Jeff Matsuda provides the fill-in art, and while it’s shaky on a few pages, it is an improvement over his unsightly X-Factor issue from this era. I’ve always thought that the splash page that digitally places Dark Beast’s face over his monitor’s image of the original Beast was nicely done, even if it is illustrating one of the dumbest things I’ve ever read in a comic. The plot of this issue, even ignoring the retcon, doesn’t exactly work, since we’re supposed to believe that Bishop has suddenly gone from “troubled” to “outright insane” (although I guess this is closer to the way he was portrayed in X-Men Prime). The plot is mainly an excuse to get Bishop and Fatale alone together for a few pages, so that the Dark Beast reveal can be pulled off. Knowing that, I have to wonder why they bothered to move the action to “Pam”’s apartment, since there’s really no reason for Dark Beast to wait that long to give Fatale the execution order. The Onslaught subplot in this issue is pretty strange, since it involves the cast of an entirely different title. These two pages couldn’t have been done as an epilogue in Generation X?
Moving on to the notorious retcon, I’m not even sure where to begin. As many others have mentioned over the years, Beast is a celebrity in the Marvel Universe due to his past membership in the Avengers (plus, X-Factor was also a popular superhero team during his stint). The idea that Dark Beast has been on Earth for twenty years and has never seen him on TV before strains credibility pretty far. I guess you could argue that this is just continuity anal-retentiveness, since Beast’s role as a celebrity hadn’t been mentioned in a few years at this time. Even if you buy that, this still doesn’t work. Beast is also a world-renowned research scientist, who has appeared on television several times in that capacity. In fact, the plot of UXM #299 involved the X-Men watching him debate Graydon Creed on television at Harry’s Hideaway. And what else happened in that issue? That’s right, the “mysterious waitress” subplot began. Fatale only now notices Beast and brings him to Dark Beast’s attention, even though he was on television while she was serving Bishop drinks in her first appearance? Aside from the continuity points, there’s also the common sense mangling you have to go through to get this to work. Dark Beast is supposed to be one of the smartest men alive, but it never occurred to him in twenty years that he had a counterpart in this reality? Even though virtually everyone he knew clearly did? Really?
The plan for Fatale is also nonsensical. She was supposed to disguise herself as a waitress, rent an apartment, and…do what exactly? I guess she was supposed to get close to Bishop over the ensuing months, so that Dark Beast could find out how much he knew about the AoA. If so, why didn’t she? Why didn’t she make an actual effort to get close to him? They went through all of this effort to set up a new identity for her, one that includes a job, an apartment, and even a cat, all in an effort to make her seem normal, and then she doesn’t actually bother to talk to Bishop? This is beyond stupid. Plus, it opens up another plot hole – if Dark Beast knew enough about the X-Men to send someone to spy on Bishop in the first place, why is he only now learning about Beast? Really, no aspect of this waitress subplot worked. Even if you were just relieved to get a resolution (like I was as a teen), you couldn’t possibly view her three appearances as a coherent story. She showed up once in 1992 and had a panel devoted to introducing a potential mystery about her. She’s never mentioned again for three years, and conveniently shows up again as Bishop is dealing with memories of the AoA (a storyline that hadn’t even been conceived when she first appeared). The next issue after that, she’s revealed to be a spy, apparently living a complete double life while simultaneously appearing as an assassin in a separate X-title. There were no clues, no foreshadowing, nothing at all to connect the resolution to anything presented in the preceding issues. This goes beyond bad writing, it’s outright appalling.