Credits: John Francis Moore (writer), Adam Pollina (penciler), Mark Morales (inker), Richard Starkings & Comicraft (lettering), Velasquez/Javins & Digital Chamelon (colors)
Summary: In Oklahoma, Domino is picked up by a truck driver. Her head is shaven and she’s disoriented after undergoing a mysterious surgery. Meanwhile, Moonstar, Siryn, and Sunspot plan their next move. Moonstar gets information from SHIELD that helps them track down Ekatarina Gryaznova, the Zero Tolerance operative who’s kidnapped the rest of X-Force. At the same time, Gryaznova makes a secret arrangement with a trio of scientists who want to experiment on X-Force. They’re soon interrupted by Moonstar, Siryn, and Sunspot, who chase the scientists away and defeat Gryaznova. Elsewhere, Warpath meets an other-dimensional being (who takes the form of his childhood cat because he doesn’t want to “overwhelm” Warpath). He takes Warpath to the man he thinks Sledge sent him to this world to find, the Vanisher. The Vanisher doesn’t want to leave the dimension, and orders its strange inhabitants to attack Warpath.
Continuity Notes: According to Moonstar, SHIELD resents being forced to work with Operation: Zero Tolerance and is open to undermining them. This is why Domino was unofficially asked to rescue Moonstar when OZT cornered the Mutant Liberation Front.
One of the scientists who examines X-Force used to work for Gideon, and claims that he’s one of the scientists who once experimented on Sunspot. The scientists appear to have some supernatural abilities, since they don’t seem to mind catching on fire as they escape. Their dialogue suggests that their presence ties into the eventual resolution of the Reignfire mystery, but I’m not sure how that played out.
Review: It’s more OZT stuff, but it is fun (I’m increasingly convinced that the botched ending of the crossover is mainly responsible for its low reputation). I’ve mentioned before that I have a soft spot for stories that split the cast up over various locations, and this is a nice example of a story that makes you feel as if a lot of things are going on at the same time. The OZT characters once again serve to set up the action scenes, but Moore also manages to give them more personality than they’ve had in most of their appearances. Gryaznova’s men gossip behind her back, while Gryaznova continues to secretly undermine Bastion. It adds a touch of realism and gives the characters traits outside of “anti-mutant human”. Pollina’s art isn’t particularly exciting during the OZT action scenes, but he really excels during the Warpath subplot. The alien dimensions and talking cartoony cat fit his style very well, and help to give the subplot a unique feel. This still feels like an issue of the Moore/Pollina X-Force, rather than generic crossover nonsense.