Credits: Scott Lobdell (plot), Ralph Macchio (script), Cedric Nocon (penciler), Chad Hunt (inker), Comicraft (lettering), Joe Rosas & GCW (colors)
Summary: In her greenhouse, Storm is attacked by Cyclops. Candra reveals that she is possessing him, and gives Storm a message. Storm pulls a red gem out of storage and leaves before Cyclops can inform the others. Storm flashes back to the day she stole the gem from a mansion near Cairo as a child. Her mentor, Achmed, held it for years and returned it to Storm when she left Egypt. At a museum in New York, Storm meets Candra. Candra demands that Storm return the gem to her, or else her hostage Karima will die. Jamil, Candra’s young follower, appears and uses his psychic powers against Storm. When she fights back, Jamil tricks both Storm and Candra and steals the gem. The Shadow King shows himself, revealing that he’s possessed Jamil.
Continuity Notes: Jamil and Karima first appeared in X-Men Unlimited #7 as two street kids under the care of Storm’s former mentor. Candra says that she’s only recently learned that Storm stole her gem (which she refers to as her “heart”) through Jamil’s telepathic powers.
The story implies that the red gem is the same one Storm wore on her original costume. Chris Claremont also had Storm receive a red gem (called the "cameo crystal") from M'Rin in the backup story in Classic X-Men #22. This could still work in continuity if you figure that the initial gem Storm wore was Candra’s, and she later swapped it with M'Rin’s (assuming you believe that Storm ever wore M'Rin's gem in the first place).
Candra claims that an External can be killed by “running a blade through the heart in order to absorb the arcane energy within”. That’s not how Selene was killing Externals just a few months earlier in X-Force, and I seem to recall early issues of that series implying that Externals could only be killed through decapitation.
Miscellaneous Note: The Statement of Ownership lists average sales for the year at 432,119 copies with the most recent issue selling 389,626.
Review: This is more filler, and it’s pretty lame. It’s not as offensively bad as Graydon Creed’s assassination, or the payoff of the Onslaught mystery, or Havok’s turn as a villain, but it’s still a chore to read. The art looks like early Image work, with thousands of ugly lines everywhere, weird faces, and awkward poses. I remember hating the artwork in this issue when I first read it, which probably means that the early ‘90s style was really, really dead by this point. The story involves the increasingly dull Candra fighting Storm over an inane plot device until another villain decides to show up. It reminds me of the filler that used to run in Marvel Comics Presents, only this kills twenty-two pages instead of eight. Ralph Macchio’s script doesn’t help things either, giving all of the characters very stiff (and boring) speech patterns. I had been able to tolerate filler storylines in the past, but I found this one particularly grating as a teenager.