Credits: Terry Kavanagh & Howard Mackie (writers), David Perrin & Nick Gnazzo (pencilers), Art Thibert & Harry Candelario (inkers), Kevin Somers & Malibu (colors), Richard Starkings & Comicraft (letters)
Summary: Preacher is targeted by government agents who want access to his precognitive powers. They discover one of his paintings of Shard and recognize her as the “ghost” in X-Factor’s headquarters. Preacher follows his visions to Las Vegas, where Bishop is meeting the current holographic incarnation of Shard. The government agents send the Hound to attack, abducting Shard and Preacher. Wild Child follows Hound’s scent to a secret facility where Shard is being dissected for her future technology and knowledge. Knowing that the true Shard would sacrifice her life for the mission, Bishop is prepared to annihilate her holographic form against Wild Child’s objections. Shard chooses to destroy her own projection gauntlet and end her life to keep the information out of the government’s hands. The agents escape and program the lab to explode. As Bishop exits, he realizes that the hologram really was Shard. Suddenly, Shard appears in the Blackbird, revealing that the lab’s experimentation apparently granted her life independent of the holographic projector. Meanwhile, Bastion keeps Preacher in isolation and studies his paintings.
Continuity Notes: The rogue government agents are the same ones who infiltrated X-Factor’s headquarters in X-Factor #123. Bishop’s birthplace is revealed as Las Vegas, and flashbacks show him living on the streets with Shard and another mutant named Hancock before being recruited into the XSE. Preacher first appeared in the previous year's annual.
I Love the ‘90s: “Destiny’s Child” can’t be a reference to the singing group since it hadn’t appeared yet. Bishop’s childhood takes place in the faraway future of 2013 (which didn’t even make sense in 1996, since it’s stated in this issue he’s born fifty years from the present).
Review: The basic idea for this issue isn’t bad, and it’s the type of story that is probably best suited for an annual. I’m not sure why exactly Shard was chosen as an X-Factor member, but since she’s Bishop’s “dead” sister, there should be a story that explores his feelings about her. Doing it in an annual instead of just running the typical filler is a smart move. It also allows the monthly titles to go along their way without having to address the issue.
Kavanagh and Mackie introduce a little conflict by having Bishop express the opinion that she’s just a hologram and not his sister at all. He actually doesn’t want anything to do with her, which is pretty cold but fitting with Bishop’s character. Of course, by the end of the story he’s seen the light predictably enough, but the scenes that show his willingness to kill Shard work fairly well. If the story actually ended with Bishop killing Shard, or Shard killing herself, maybe it would’ve had more of an impact. Instead, there’s a tacked on happy ending that reveals that Shard is now some sort of an “independent hologram” and everything’s okay. If this was supposed to make readers think of hologram-Shard as more of a “real” character, I don’t think it worked. Aside from the happy ending, I also have issues with the generic shadowy government conspiracy villains (who were already overdone in X-Factor), and the treatment of Preacher. The X-Men just forget about him getting kidnapped and go home at the end. I know Preacher’s a forgettable character who never amounts to anything, but the characters in the book shouldn’t be acting this way.