Credits: Scott Lobdell (writer), Joe Madureira w/Salvador Larroca (pencilers), Tim Townsend w/Vince Russell (inkers), Comicraft (lettering), Steve Buccellato & Team Bucce! (colors)
Summary: Archangel collapses in pain as his metal wings begin to molt and are replaced by feathers. Ozymandias appears and tells him that his original transformation under Apocalypse was only the beginning. Meanwhile, Joseph is shown a holographic recreation of Magneto in the Danger Room. He wonders why the X-Men would accept him on the team if he really was Magneto in the past. Psylocke teleports in through the shadows and tells the team that Archangel needs help. In Brooklyn, a sickly Pyro visits a church confessional. As a dazed Archangel arrives overhead, Pryo tries to warn the priest about an upcoming event. The X-Men track Archangel to the church, just as Pyro’s Legacy Virus infection causes his powers to go haywire. After Joseph subdues him, Pyro tries to warn the X-Men about “her” upcoming plan. Pyro is suddenly consumed by the earth, leading Wolverine to assume that Avalanche kidnapped him. Elsewhere, Iceman and Cannonball begin to work undercover at Graydon Creed’s presidential campaign.
Continuity Notes: This is, obviously, the issue that ditched Archangel’s metal wings and revived his original ones. Psylocke’s “shadow teleportation” powers also appear for the first time. The only explanation is that the Crimson Dawn elixir must be responsible.
Review: I remember hating this issue when it was released, and it hasn't improved with age. Aside from Madureria’s attractive artwork (I particularly like his rendition of Magneto versus the original X-Men in the Danger Room scene), there’s nothing notable about this issue. It’s filled with vague clues that ended up with little to no payoff, so it's hard to care. Why exactly would Apocalypse remove Archangel’s metal wings? If it’s because he no longer serves him, wouldn’t he have done that years ago? And why replace them with his original wings? There’s no internally justifiable reason; someone at Marvel just wanted his old wings back, I guess. If Marvel wanted a “back to basics” approach to the character, that’s understandable, but keeping his blue skin is an odd choice. If you’re returning Angel back to his original appearance, why not go all the way? Keeping his blue skin just seems like a halfhearted attempt to acknowledge an era of the character’s past that the creators obviously wanted to move away from by this time.
Psylocke’s new, arbitrary powers are also frustrating. Supposedly, the shadow powers were added to have her stand out from the other X-Men telepaths. Making the character’s powers unique is admirable, but tacking random powers on to her while still maintaining her telepathic abilities seems pointless. It adds another wrinkle to a character that had already gone through too many alterations already. Morphing the proper British telepath into an Asian ninja should really be all of the distinction the character needs. She’s living in a stranger’s body, and now has to deal with her primal desire to physically attack opponents, even though her telepathy is the safer way to handle them. The earlier attempt to reveal that her personality had been merged with another character’s was misguided, but it didn’t last for long and it can easily be forgotten. Tacking on totally unrelated powers, and a mystical connection that’s altering her personality again, seems pointless. It makes her the cast member that the writers are always screwing with, leaving her as another X-character with the “too complicated” label.
The actual story for this issue is a setup for the current X-Factor storyline, although there are no footnotes in this issue to lead you towards that title. The X-Men randomly come across Pyro, he makes a few cryptic comments, and then disappears. I believe this leads into the “Assassination of Graydon Creed” storyline, which was another story with a vague ending that went years without a resolution. And, of course, the disease Pyro is suffering from is another long-running storyline that was ignored for years before getting a quickie resolution. So, really, this isn’t a highlight of the era.