Filling in the Blanks
Credits: Alan Davis (plot), Terry Kavanagh (script), Roger Cruz (penciler), Batt/Owens/Palmiotti (inkers), Liquid! (colors), Comicraft (letters)
Summary: Cyclops and Phoenix debate whether or not it’s time to go back home, while the Living Monolith’s followers witness his rebirth in Egypt. A strange man appears and takes control of the Monolith. At the X-Men’s mansion, the young Skrull Fiz is discovered. He says that he’s a mutant and wants to join the X-Men. Xavier reads a list of “the Twelve” from Destiny’s diary, leaving out one name. After he talks Cyclops and Phoenix into staying with the team, he reveals that the twelfth name is someone he must personally contact, Magneto.
Continuity Notes: The Twelve are revealed as Xavier, Cyclops, Phoenix, Storm, Iceman, Sunfire, Polaris, Cable, Bishop, Mikhail Rasputin, the Living Monolith, and Magneto. The first reference to the Twelve came years earlier in X-Factor #14. Master Mold uncovered in his programming a list of twelve strong mutants who would lead other mutants, and tracked down one of the mutants, Cyclops. He also appeared in Power Pack a few months later, naming Franklin Richards as a member, and Dani Moonstar, Cannonball, and Psylocke as potential candidates. For what it’s worth, Master Mold was malfunctioning during this time (even declaring all humans as mutants since everyone has something that makes them special), so I guess there’s room to dismiss any discrepancies between the original candidates and the official list.
Fiz’s mutant power is the ability to change his mass, along with his shape. He snuck into the mansion by shrinking down to insect size and hiding on Nightcrawler’s body. He says that Xavier is his hero because he tried to save the Skrulls from Galactus, and that mutant Skrulls are traditionally killed, but are now being experimented on. He reveals that the Skrulls have a new ally, a “Death-God” who “promise(s) much”.
Polaris reveals that the Skrulls stole Havok’s costume from her apartment. The jewel on his cowl is connected to his powers, and Polaris says it’s been glowing lately. The jewel shows up on the Living Monolith’s head, and according to Apocalypse (who is the strange man who takes control of Monolith) it enables Monolith to “maintain joint access” to the cosmic energy he shares with Havok.
It’s revealed that Apocalypse and Sinister grafted a sample of Havok’s DNA to the Living Monolith years ago, when he was a “non-mutant variant”. The experiment created a symbiotic relationship between Havok and Monolith, splitting the power between the two of them. This is supposed to explain Havok and Monolith’s odd connection in their original appearances in the Silver Age.
Rogue and Gambit have a one-page breakup. Rogue’s final words before her “death” in last issue’s “psycho-drama” were to tell Gambit that things would never work between them and that he should move on. She now sees that as a sign and wants to break up.
“Huh?” Moment: While flashing back to the past few days, Cyclops recalls Storm telling him that the traitor has been identified and Wolverine has been found. Wolverine’s in the background smoking a cigar. This hasn’t happened yet; Wolverine is still missing at this time.
I Love the ‘90s: The Living Monolith’s followers mention the dawning of a new millennium, and a letter writer to Stan Lee’s column states that Wolverine goes through more costumes in a week than the Spice Girls.
Review: This is revelation of the Twelve, and it’s not treated as that big of a deal. A few pages before the story’s over, in a normal-sized panel in the middle of the layout, Xavier just rattles off a list of names. The revelation of the Twelve was a part of an effort to resolve some of the dangling plotlines that had been hanging around for years, so it’s interesting that Davis chose to list the names in such a low-key manner. I have no idea why “the Twelve” was chosen as a dangler to be resolved, since it was introduced back in 1987 and had barely been mentioned since. Only the hardest of hardcore fans were still asking about the list by 1999. It seems like resolving the Legacy Virus storyline would’ve been more of a priority at the time. At any rate, the Twelve were supposed to be the mutant leaders of the future, not mutants used to power a machine (as we’ll see in a few issues). Plus, the clues were provided by a malfunctioning robot in the first place, so I’m not sure if it was really a mystery worth reviving. It’s possible that Louise Simonson, who introduced the mystery, just intended the list of names as a red herring for Master Mold to chase for a few issues (although I think she also had Apocalypse label himself a member, along with the original X-Men, so maybe she was more ambitious).
The story mainly consists of recaps of the past couple of issues and a few setups for what’s coming next. Because Fiz can’t speak English (he later communicates through a translator device and Shadowcat, who was telepathically taught Skrull a few issues ago), there are a few pages of a “misunderstanding fight” with the X-Men, which is the only action in the issue. There’s a small amount of character work, as Cyclops continues to question if he should stay with the X-Men or return to his normal life. Since this storyline ends with Cyclops’ “death”, it’s possible this was done to make his ending more tragic. Rogue and Gambit’s breakup scene is too rushed to be effective, and I’m not quite sure what the point is even supposed to be. Polaris and Cyclops discuss Havok’s “death” (wow, that word’s showing up in quotes a lot), which is something that should’ve happened months earlier. Even in the midst of crossover madness, Davis still remembers the existing connections between the characters, which actually makes the story easier to swallow. Roger Cruz shows up as guest penciler, this time merging Joe Madureira’s style with Chris Bachalo’s. It’s obviously not original, but he’s growing as an artist and doesn’t seem to struggle with the large cast he’s given to draw.
Credits: Alan Davis (plot & pencils), Chris Claremont (script, uncredited), Mark Farmer (inker), Marie Javins (colors), Comicraft (letters)
Summary: Xavier informs Magneto that he is one of the Twelve. Magneto volunteers to help fight Apocalypse. Meanwhile, Phoenix uses Cerebro to contact Iceman. She watches telepathically as a brainwashed Deathbird kidnaps him. In Japan, Apocalypse’s Horseman Famine abducts Sunfire. At the X-Men’s mansion, Death arrives and kidnaps Mikhail Rasputin. Because the X-Men still view him as Wolverine, they’re reluctant to fight back. When he returns to kidnap Cyclops and Storm, Nightcrawler tries to organize a defense. Death cuts a support beam and buries the team under the roof. Fiz uses his mass to protect the team while Death teleports away. Archangel, Nightcrawler, Shadowcat, and Jubilee head for Egypt, where Phoenix has located Apocalypse’s captives.
Continuity Notes: Magneto is still recovering from overexerting himself during “Magneto War” and is using Fabian Cortez to energize his powers again. X-Man and Cable are shown to be Apocalypse’s captives, so I’m assuming this was covered in their solo books. Archangel, Nightcrawler, Shadowcat, and Jubilee’s story is continued in Wolverine.
Review: Chris Claremont shows up as scripter again, and it is an improvement over his previous issue. His writing tics are a lot less obvious this time, and he’s able to incorporate some nice character moments into an action-heavy plot. It’s definitely a step above most of Kavanagh’s work in recent issues. This is the first time Claremont’s written Magneto since he left the books, and it’s odd watching him reconcile his take on the character with the direction Marvel took him in the ensuing years. Even when the plot has Magneto smack Fabian Cortez for getting out of line, Claremont’s inner monologue has him commenting, “I should have not struck him. It is a sign of weakness.” When Xavier informs Magneto of the Twelve, Magneto’s response is that he should perhaps just kill them all before Apocalypse is able to use them. The script’s able to make Magneto seem pragmatic, and a least a little ruthless, but not irrational or outright insane. The script, combined with Davis’ artwork and the more subdued colors, makes the entire issue feel like something from the ‘80s. I don’t say that dismissively; I say it as a true fan of ‘80s Marvel (although I can understand why readers of The Authority at the time might’ve dismissed this as dull). I wonder if Claremont’s 2000 return would’ve worked out if it were shamelessly a throwback, instead of a forced attempt at new characters, new designs, and non-linear storytelling.