Credits: John Ostrander (writer), Steve Epting & Nick Napalitano (pencilers), Mark Prudeaux, Robert Jones, Andrew Pepoy, & Steve Moncuse (inkers), Comicraft (letters), Brad Vancata (colors)
Summary: Posing as Bishop, Rook leads the Fanatix in a strike against the new Statue of Liberty. The real Bishop is notified of Rook’s machinations by Anthony Shaw, while the XSE targets their apparently renegade teammate. Bishop sneaks into their headquarters and convinces Shard to send him information on Annabella Knox. From Shard, Bishop learns that Knox is going to the courthouse to finalize her inheritance. Bishop’s partner Malcolm arrests Shard for insubordination, then confronts Bishop outside of the courthouse.
Continuity Notes: The original Statue of Liberty was destroyed during the Summers Rebellion, when humans and mutants united against the Sentinels. “Morlocks” is revealed as the name of a bar populated by deformed mutants in this future. According to Shard’s research, Rook’s shapechanging abilities come from organic Life Model Decoy technology from the final days of SHIELD.
Review: Remember when people actually wanted to see more of Malcolm and Randall? I think those days were over by 1998, but Ostrander is still trying to make use of Bishop’s established supporting cast. Ostrander dutifully goes through with the assignment, staying true to what we know about Bishop’s timeline, rather than going off on a tangent and just writing his own futuristic, sci-fi setting and cramming Bishop into it. The story covers some well-worn territory, but Ostrander to his credit does establish that none of Bishop’s friends believe he’s guilty, they just have an obligation to enforce the law. Malcolm doesn’t have any major internal conflicts about what’s he doing, he just doesn’t like doing it, which seems to fit the way XSE officers have been portrayed in the past. Seeing Bishop on the run also works as an inversion of his usual role. His solo stories usually involve him tracking down a fugitive he’s either going to arrest or kill, so there’s a bit of twist this time. Steve Epting drops out of the art chores halfway through the issue, leaving Nick Napalitano to finish the rest. Napalitano seems to be mimicking the worst elements of Andy Kubert’s early X-work, and I’m sure having four inkers rush to finish the pages doesn’t do him any favors, either.