Credits: Scott Lobdell (writer), Jim Lee (penciler), Scott Williams w/Sal Regla (inkers), Joe Chiodo & Martin Jimenez (colors), Comicraft (lettering)
Summary: Years in the past, Nick Fury recruits Grifter from prison to fight the Brood/Daemonite alliance. Meanwhile, Marvel Girl leaves the X-Men for a modeling assignment. While on her flight, she mentally connects to an undercover SHIELD agent, who is under psionic assault by the Brood and Daemonites. Grifter arrives at the airport to meet up with the agent, who is soon killed by the aliens. Marvel Girl reads the agent’s final thoughts and learns about the alien alliance. Grifter and Marvel Girl combine their powers and escape to safety. Grifter kisses Marvel Girl to show his gratitude, but she reluctantly rebuffs him. Soon, following the clues in the deceased agent’s mind, the duo attends a party on a cruise ship. Pike arrives with more Brood/Daemonite hybrids. The plan is to kidnap the world leaders at the party and bring them below deck, where Mr. Sinister is waiting. Grifter and Marvel Girl’s fight with Pike leads them to Sinister’s lab, where he’s experimenting on Zealot. The remaining X-Men follow Jean’s message and arrive, forcing the villains to retreat. As the X-Men fly away, Zealot proposes a partnership to Grifter.
Production Note: This was published through Image/Wildstorm, not Marvel. It has 48 pages with a cardstock cover and slick paper. The cover price is $4.50.
Continuity Notes: Since this is an intercompany crossover, attaching continuity to it is a little silly since it can’t really be referenced in the future. For the sake of nitpicking, I’ll point out that Marvel Girl is shown flying, which I’m almost positive she wasn’t able to do until she became Phoenix. The X-Men also didn’t meet the Brood until years after the Silver Age ended, of course. One significant aspect of Marvel continuity is addressed here, as Sinister takes a sample of Marvel Girl’s DNA when she’s briefly unconscious (which explains how he had the genetic material needed to clone Jean in the first place). I’m sure no one at Marvel decided this “counts”, but it’s amusing that Lobdell threw it in. Some Wildstorm continuity is also established, as Grifter receives his trademark red mask from SHIELD, and Zealot and Grifter meet for the first time (I’m sure none of this counts in Wildstorm continuity either).
Review: This is another one of the Marvel/Image crossovers that was published after the “Heroes Reborn” deal. I had no idea this comic existed when it was released, which is odd since it seems like Jim Lee drawing the X-Men again would’ve been treated like a big deal (I don’t remember ever hearing about any of the X-Men/WildC.A.T.S crossovers, but it turns out there were enough of them to fill a trade paperback). Judging by the cover date, I’m assuming that Lee began work on this after he finished his six-issue commitment to Fantastic Four. It’s a nice looking comic, with a lot of energetic artwork and vibrant colors. It’s supposed to take place during the Roy Thomas/Neal Adams run of the title, which explains why Jean Grey is working as a fashion model and the team believes Xavier is dead. Lobdell only seems interested in the basic status quo, though, as the Brood and Mr. Sinister show up as villains, and even Gambit makes a cameo as Grifter’s fellow prisoner in the opening. It’s as if the creators want to show some reverence to the time period, but are openly acknowledging that the “good stuff” only came years later.
Just to make the timeline more confusing, the story drops hints that it takes place in the late 60s, as Jean wears a vintage miniskirt and younger versions of John Lennon, Mick Jagger, and Ronald Reagan make cameo appearances during the party scene. It’s obvious the goal is to have fun, so obsessing over the details seems pointless (although I would like to know why exactly Sinister is working with the Brood). The story doesn’t succeed in making me care about the Wildstorm characters that much, and the “romantic tension” between Grifter and Jean is forced, but it does turn out to be an entertaining action comic. It’s sad that the comics market has shrunk to the point that creator-owned characters don’t have the popularity to star in these types of stories anymore.