Eve of Destruction
Credits: Alan Davis (plot & pencils), Terry Kavanagh (scripter), Mark Farmer (inker), Gloria Vasquez & Marie Javins (colors), Richard Starkings & Comicraft (letters)
Summary: Xavier enters his psi-form and tries to dissuade Galactus from consuming the Skrull’s planet. Meanwhile, Shadowcat rescues Wolverine from a Skrull army, with the help of her new allies, the Skrull versions of Thunderbird, Adam Warlock, and Captain Marvel. Nearby, Marrow emerges from her healing pod, and is now beautiful and in control of her powers. The team reunites, as Galactus sends Xavier’s consciousness back into his body. While Galactus consumes the planet, the team escapes in a spaceship. Shadowcat places the X-Men in suspended animation as they travel home. They arrive outside of Earth a few days in the past, as Magneto is creating an electro-magnetic pulse. A disruption knocks their ship off-course.
Continuity Notes: The Adam Warlock Skrull was “engineered to be a telepath”, which is an attempt to get around the idea that Skrulls can’t actually mimic powers. Shadowcat explains that Adam Warlock’s Skrull telepathically read her mind and realized she was telling the truth, explaining why these Skrulls changed sides in-between issues. Adam Warlock’s duplicate is critically injured in the fighting, but he telepathically teaches Shadowcat how to fly a Skrull spaceship before dying.
Creative Differences: Alan Davis’ redesign of Marrow debuts this issue. It looks as if her outfit was supposed to be a two-piece bone bikini (you can even see her navel), but editorial added a blue bodysuit for modesty.
Review: And here’s another thing that made people mad -- the debut of Marrow’s new look. I can see two reasons why Davis might’ve gone in this direction: one, just to see how Marrow would react if she got to be as pretty as the “beautiful people” she disdains; and two, as a meta-commentary on how female characters always grow more attractive over the years. Marrow was introduced as a hideously ugly villain, but already had a makeover when Marvel decided to add her to the X-Men (and no one seemed to notice). Now, her attractiveness is something the characters can’t just ignore, so it has to be a plot point. In hindsight, neither idea really came through in the stories, so I could be totally wrong about Davis’ motivations (assuming this wasn’t another editorial decision anyway). I almost wonder if she was made more attractive as a part of her “growing closer to Gambit” subplot. Was she supposed to be a potential love interest for Gambit? I’ll admit that it’s unlikely, and hopefully no one working on the books was shallow enough to think Marrow had to be made even prettier to be a viable love interest.
As for the main story, it’s another issue of misadventures in the Skrull world. Davis’ art is perfectly suited for this story, as he produces page after page of slick-looking Marvel heroes in their iconic costumes. The Skrulls’ imminent doom adds some drama to the story, and there’s some nice material with their internal battles over spaceships and the redemption of Shadowcat’s Skrull allies. Galactus gets to reiterate his role as a cosmic force that’s “beyond good or evil” as Xavier tries to talk him out of doing what he knows he has to do. There’s not a lot of attention paid to this plot point, but Galactus actually saves Xavier (who he knows shouldn’t be in this time period) by sending him back to his body, giving him enough time to escape. The scene reinforces the idea that Galactus doesn’t act out of maliciousness, which is one of the character’s unique traits I’ve always liked. I wish the script could’ve gone deeper into these ideas, but Kavanagh mainly seems interested in recapping story points and re-explaining the X-Men’s powers. His dialogue isn’t as clunky here as it has been in the past, but the majority of the script is just dull.
Credits: Alan Davis (plot), Terry Kavanagh (script), Jimmy Cheung (penciler), Mark Morales (inker), Liquid! (colors), Comicraft (letters)
Summary: Xavier dreams he is surrounded by the bodies of his dead students. He awakens with a scream, and learns from Shadowcat that the Skrull’s ship placed the team in cryo-stasis for eight days to protect them from Magneto’s electro-magnetic pulse. Meanwhile, SHIELD agents abduct Machine Man and use his technology to create a new body for an injured agent. Nick Fury is angered that Major Sole ordered the project without his permission. Sole has also ordered agents to investigate a strange occurrence on Muir Island. The X-Men park their Skrull craft on Muir Island, and leave behind Colossus, Shadowcat, and Nightcrawler, who want to visit Douglock. They soon discover Douglock, his powers out of control, attacking a pair of SHIELD agents.
Continuity Notes: It’s revealed months later that the Wolverine who returns home with the X-Men is actually a Skrull. There aren’t any overt hints at this point, though.
Xavier is now acting cold and snappish with his students again. He initially doesn’t want Colossus, Shadowcat, and Nightcrawler to stay behind on Muir Island, but Storm talks him into it. Wolverine comments that Xavier is losing his mind. These are teases for the next few issues (and they’re actually paid off!).
Review: This is the first part of “Rage Against the Machine”, a crossover designed to set up the ill-fated M-Tech line of books. Marvel wasn’t shy about admitting that the X-books were used to set the line up because they felt they offered the best chance for commercial success, but the days of fans blindly following anything X-related were long gone by this point. Douglock received his own title as Warlock, so working him into the storyline isn’t much of a stretch. However, new books for Machine Man and Deathlock also had to be set up, which isn’t the easiest fit. Davis does his best with the situation, though, and uses the M-Tech material as the superhero action for a few issues while the character subplots continue. Marrow reacts to her new look, Gambit continues to feel guilty about hurting her, Xavier behaves strangely, and Wolverine begins to cast doubts about Xavier. Davis manages to weave it all in comfortably, so the M-Tech setups aren’t as distracting as you would expect them to be. Jimmy Cheung, who was doing X-Force at the time, shows up as guest penciler and does a very nice job. His style fits in with Kubert’s cartoonier look, and he manages to handle the multiple figures and complicated technology very well. I’m surprised he didn’t do more issues during this era.