Credits: John Francis Moore (writer), Adam Pollina (penciler), Mark Morales (inker), Comicraft (lettering), Steve Buccellato (colorist)
Summary: The Mutant Liberation Front invades a cancer research center in St. Louis. Wildside claims that the lab is actually a front for a government project that’s recreating the Legacy Virus. Agents from Zero Tolerance arrive, as a media circus grows outside. Domino, Sunspot, and Siryn disguise themselves as a TV news crew, and are spotted by Moonstar. She suggests bringing the news crew inside, claiming that it will keep Zero Tolerance at bay. The remaining members of X-Force wait in a van outside, and are soon dispatched by the Zero Tolerance troops. When the incognito members enter the building, they’re quickly recognized by Dragoness, who outs them. After a brief fight, the MLF realizes that the information Wildside was fed was a plant. Moonstone knocks Wildside out when he attacks one of the scientists, and reveals to the rest of the MLF that she’s been working undercover for SHIELD. Three of the scientists suddenly reveal themselves as a new breed of Sentinel, working for Zero Tolerance. Meanwhile at the mansion, Cable watches over Caliban. In the middle of the night, Ozymandias appears in front of Caliban’s sleeping body, telling him that he’ll have no choice but to return to Apocalypse.
Continuity Notes: Wildside, who is the MLF’s new leader, and Dragoness are now a couple. Tempo has rejoined the team, allegedly because she’s concerned about growing anti-mutant sentiment. Locus also appears, but abandons the team after Wildside slaps her for suggesting a retreat.
Sunspot is now able to change back into his human form, which he was unable to do during Jeph Loeb’s run (he claims going out at night helps, as his powers are fueled by the sun).
Cable recognizes that Caliban has “regressed emotionally”, which is the first time his out-of-character behavior in Loeb’s run is mentioned on-panel. Cable wonders if there’s a connection between Archangel regaining his feather wings and Caliban’s recent regression. I have no idea if this was ever resolved.
Review: The MLF returns to the title, and Moore makes good use of the characters. I’ve mentioned earlier that the MLF seemed to be dismissed too quickly, probably because they’re so closely tied to the Liefeld run. I think they work fine as pro-mutant extremists, and Nicieza’s addition of Moonstar and Feral to the team gave them the potential to reach the level of “archenemies” for X-Force. It’s too bad the team was virtually ignored after Nicieza left, because there’s nothing inherently wrong with the concept. I’m not sure how familiar Moore was with these characters before he took over the book, but he seems to be working in a lot of things that longtime readers wanted out of the title. Caliban isn’t just out-of-character anymore, it’s now a plot point. Risque’s mystery is resolved, and the Camp Verde storyline is revived. Moonstar isn’t in limbo anymore, as she returns and her MLF arc is actually resolved. Things actually happen, which automatically sets the book apart from most of the other X-titles of the era. Pollina’s art also brings some stability to the series, although it seems like he only provided rough breakdowns for much of the issue. The final few pages have some bizarre anatomy and inconsistent linework, which are problems he seemed to have conquered by this point.