Credits: Scott Lobdell (writer), Joe Madureira (penciler), Tim Townsend (inker), Steve Buccellato & Team Bucce! (colors), Comicraft (lettering)
Summary: Deathbird regains consciousness as Gambit and Joseph return from their mission. Deathbird smells that they aren’t human and steals Bishop’s gun. After she guns them down, Gambit and Joseph are revealed as Phalanx imposters. Meanwhile, the Phalanx are storing the real Gambit and Joseph in pods. Rogue arrives and rescues them. During the fight, Gambit saves Rogue after she’s briefly absorbed by the Phalanx. After touching the Phalanx, Rogue learned that they destroyed the Shi’ar homeworld and are heading towards Earth. Later, Beast devises a plan that enables the team to abandon their ship in an escape pod after the Phalanx destroy it. They land on a nearby moon, where Deathbird keeps a hidden base in an abandoned mining station. The team teleports away with Deathbird, unsure if she can be trusted. Meanwhile, Bastion arrives at his base with Jubilee as his captive.
Continuity Note: Another form of the Phalanx debut here. The techno-organic components are apparently kept underneath their black outer layer. They claim that the Phalanx the X-Men fought earlier were “transient units” and “our foreguardians”. I think Louise Simonson eventually reconciled all of the Phalanx continuity in the short-lived Warlock series.
Review: The space arc continues, and moves at its own leisurely pace. (An ad that ran in several Marvel books from around this time claimed that this was a three-issue storyline. This might’ve contributed to my exasperation over how long the story eventually ran.) This issue establishes the Phalanx as the behind-the-scenes villains and pairs the team with Deathbird. It seems like this could’ve been established in ten pages or so, but the plot stretches out for the entire issue. As usual, the art is slick and the character interactions aren’t bad, but nothing in the issue is really engaging. For whatever reason, someone at Marvel apparently thought it would be a good idea to reform Deathbird, which is a direction the storyline will explore over the next few issues. Lobdell handles her nasty, belligerent personality very well here, so it seems like kind of a waste to make her more likable.