Credits: Scott Lobdell (writer), Bryan Hitch (penciler), Paul Neary (inker), Steve Buccellato (colors), Richard Starkings & Comicraft (lettering)
Summary: X-Force rescues the Dark Beast, in disguise as the X-Men’s Beast, from a lab explosion. Warpath and Shatterstar are slightly suspicious of his behavior. Meanwhile in Colorado, Archangel takes a leave of absence to help Psylocke recover from her wounds. In New York, Iceman confronts Emma Frost about her previous possession of his body. Most of his chest was shattered during his fight with Post, and he wants her to help him turn back to his human form. She tries to antagonize him with visions of his father and his ex-girlfriend, but he refuses to back down. She tells him to trust in himself and change back to his human form. He reluctantly does, and realizes that his body is fine. Frost explains to Iceman that she provoked him because she was angry that he squandered his potential and always survived, while her highly trained Hellions died in battle.
Production Note: This is yet another nineteen-page issue, the third one in a row for this series. Just like all of the other shortened comics from this time, the extra pages aren’t made up by outside ads, but an extended letters column and X-Facts hype pages.
Continuity Notes: Archangel and Psylocke move to Colorado in this issue, where I think they’ll stay until the Onslaught crossover. This puts the Archangel one-shot in a nebulous continuity position, since it takes place after Sabretooth’s attack while they were still living in the mansion and Psylocke appears to be fully recovered. In this issue, they move to Colorado while she’s still recovering. I decided to file Archangel before this story, rationalizing that even if the story made no reference to Psylocke’s wounds and she seemed fine, it’s possible she wasn’t fully healed yet.
In a brief subplot scene, Cyclops takes Phoenix to the location of his fight with Post. Cyclops wonders why the scenery is untouched, claiming that it should be covered in debris. The landscape is drawn like a mesa, and doesn’t look anything like landscape of X-Men #50 (which was drawn inconsistently even within that issue.) I have no idea if this was supposed to be intentional or not.
Meltdown is still referred to as Boomer, and wearing Boomer’s costume, even though she changed her name and look in X-Force #51, which took place right after Uncanny X-Men #328. See what happens when you read all of these X-comics in such a short amount of time?
In one scene, an agitated Archangel implies that Xavier might mentally coerce him into rejoining the X-Men. Xavier is offended, and Archangel defends his statement by citing the times Xavier erased people’s memories of the X-Men in their early appearances. This might’ve been an attempt to foreshadow the “dark side” of Xavier becoming Onslaught.
An offhand comment by Emma Frost lead to some speculation at the time that Iceman was gay. She comments that he’s used his mutant ability to pursue his first love, “interior decorating”. Some fans took this to mean that she learned he was gay while inside his mind. Those fans apparently chose to ignore the gigantic ice sculptures that Iceman has filled her office with, which is obviously what she’s referring to. Fabian Nicieza has confirmed that no one working on the titles intended for Iceman to be gay, but just imagine if Jeph Loeb followed Scott Lobdell on this book.
Review: This is an easily forgettable one, which mainly touches base on various subplots and gives Iceman a little bit of attention. Many of the pages are just spent referencing things that happened outside of Uncanny X-Men, such as the fight with Post and Dark Beast infiltrating the mansion (the fact that he’s hiding out amongst at least two telepaths isn’t brought up here, but I think it is acknowledged later). Iceman’s anxiety over his wound isn’t sold very convincingly, and it looks like an attempt to make the fight with Post seem more important than it really was. The subplot about Iceman seeing visions of Emma Frost is resolved pretty halfheartedly, as Iceman just bluntly tells her that he doesn’t know why she was doing it, he just wants her to stop. The justification that Emma taunts Iceman because she resents him for surviving while her Hellions died seems like a stretch, but Lobdell does have the characters play off each other pretty well.
The scene between Archangel and Xavier is a little strange, as Archangel just casually claims that Xavier might brainwash him into doing what he wants, and then dismisses his allegations by admitting that he’s in a bad mood. The idea that Xavier must have this sinister dark side based on his actions in early Silver Age comics has never worked for me. He erased the memories of people who learned where the X-Men lived or who came too close to finding them out. Since he wasn’t erasing years of their lives, just a few minutes, or altering their personalities, I don’t really see why it’s that big of a deal. Superheroes have been erasing people’s memories of their secret IDs for decades and I’ve never considered it to be that morally dubious. That idea that Xavier would brainwash one of his students just because he previously used his powers to protect their secrets is a huge leap in logic (and it seems as if Marvel’s using it again to justify the inane decisions they’ve made with his character in recent years). I have no idea if we’re supposed to be sympathetic to Archangel’s charges or not, since he quickly backtracks and claims that he’s just tired. There are a few nice character beats in this scene, though, as Gambit implies to Bishop that he might not be trustworthy at all and isn't worth apologizing to, and Xavier admits to himself that he hardly knows the newer X-Men. They’re very brief moments, but I find them more interesting than most of the rest of the comic.