Credits: Mark Waid (writer), Pascual Ferry (penciler), John Dell, Mark Morales, & Vince Russell (inkers), Marie Javins & Malibu Hues (colors), Richard Starkings & Comicraft (lettering)
Summary: Cerebro detects a spike of mutant activity in a commuter train, and Bishop, Gambit, and Beast leave to investigate. Inside the train, they discover that the civilians have been infected with a contagious virus that mutates them into monsters. Gambit and Bishop head to the engine to stop the train before it arrives in New York City, while Beast is left to subdue the passengers. Elsewhere, while Cyclops and Phoenix visit the Grey family, Graydon Creed announces his candidacy for President on television. Inside the train, the Beast creates an anesthetic out of brake fluid and knocks most of the passengers unconscious. Mr. Sinister suddenly appears, upset that his experiment has been compromised. Gambit and Bishop realize that the train’s controls have been destroyed, which leads Gambit to charge the entire train with kinetic energy. A confused Bishop asks him why he’s turned the train into a bomb.
Continuity Notes: Professor Xavier is still repairing Cerebro on the first page, referencing its destruction in the Phalanx storyline, even though it’s been used since that story (to search for Cyclops after Avalon’s destruction, and presumably to locate the new mutant in X-Men Unlimited #8).
Professor Xavier calls Louis St. Croix, a member of his Mutant Underground, to discuss ways to stop Graydon Creed’s Presidential campaign. I’m pretty sure nothing comes of this.
Production Note: Nineteen pages. Again.
Creative Differences: Phoenix makes a reference to Cyclops being born forty years old, which leads to Cyclops to respond, “Jean, I’m twenty-fi--!” Mark Waid posted on Usenet at the time that this line was added by editorial, apparently because they were afraid that someone would interpret Phoenix’s joke literally. It’s interesting that editorial deemed Cyclops twenty-five, when X-Men #19 inferred that Beast was about to turn thirty, and Beast’s high school girlfriend was labeled thirty in X-Men Unlimited #10.
Review: This is the start of Mark Waid’s brief run, which lasted roughly until the end of the Onslaught crossover. Unlike most of the stories of this era, which tend to have the X-Men hanging around the mansion while a threat grows in the background, Waid writes a more straightforward, action-oriented story. There’s still characterization, but it comes in the context of the characters interacting with one another during the action. Pairing the Dark Beast with Sinister is a nice way to connect a mostly stand-alone story to an ongoing plotline, also. It’s interesting that Waid uses Cerebro as the catalyst for the story in his first issue when you consider how often it was just ignored during the Lobdell/Nicieza runs. This is a more traditional superhero approach to the X-Men, and while it feels a little trivial, it’s entertaining enough. Pascual Ferry does a fine job as fill-in artist, turning in a much more attractive job than most of the fill-ins from this era. He’s still drawing with a slight Madureria influence at this time, but he exhibits enough of his own style so that he doesn’t come across as a bland clone.