Roger Cruz returns as the regular artist, an event commemorated by the letters page running three negative letters about ChrisCross in a row. One letterhack is even “ashamed” for X-Man, having to endure an interpretation by a lesser artist than Cruz. I’m often ashamed for X-Man for merely existing, but to each his own. I doubt there was a conspiracy to make ChrisCross look bad, the editors probably just wanted to make Cruz’s return seem like a response to overwhelming reader demand, but it is strange to read such negative mail in a ‘90s Marvel letter column. The worst criticism Terry Kavanagh gets is along the lines of “This book seems to have lost focus lately, but I can’t wait to see what happens next!” and that’s on the rare occasion Kavanagh receives anything but euphoric praise. And, not to be a jerk, but I have to say these kids are out of their minds. ChrisCross can draw circles around the Roger Cruz of this era.
The story picks up shortly after the previous issue, as the mysterious Witness (or just “Ness”) continues his search for X-Man. He comes across the Gauntlet interrogating a group of scientists who were just rescued from the Great Beasts by X-Man. Ness tricks the armored men into leaving, and is soon horrified when he sees the strange metal the scientists have discovered. He destroys it and exists dramatically. So, mystery man outsmarts a group of mystery men, then freaks out over a mystery metal. Who could possibly complain about these subplots?
Meanwhile, Madelyne Pryor has somehow teleported X-Man to the Swiss chateau where they first met. After a few pages of creepy cuddling that verges on incest, X-Man suddenly realizes that Threnody’s ability to drain energy from the dying could help him with his powers. Threnody’s been virtually forgotten for almost two years at this point, and the idea that her powers can work on X-Man since he’s slowly dying is a stretch, but I wouldn’t mind seeing her again. Her exit was never clearly explained, and she’s certainly a better love interest for X-Man than, you know, his mother. Speaking of which, Madelyne senses X-Man searching for Threnody in the Astral Plane (or “psi-plane,” or “psi-dimension,” as Kavanagh alternately calls it) and grows insanely jealous. She fights X-Man for a few pages before he suddenly collapses. A footnote points to the “Psi-War” storyline for details, mistakenly listing Uncanny X-Men #358, the Bishop/Deathbird spotlight issue, as one of the chapters. Considering how chaotic the X-office was during this era, I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that “Psi-War” was originally supposed to cross over with Uncanny X-Men. Anyway, it’s time for X-Man to deal with the “telepathic blindness” Marvel editorial half-heartedly enforced in 1998. And, surely, this marks the end of X-Man’s ridiculous relationship with Madelyne Pryor…right?
Two weeks have passed since the previous issue, and a “mindblind” X-Man has made his way to Ireland. X-Man must now adjust to merely being the world’s most powerful telekinetic, as opposed to being the world’s most powerful telepath and telekinetic. Madelyne Pryor disappeared after their battle in the Astral Plane, but unfortunately for those of us with an anti-incest bias, she resurfaces in Ireland. The narrative captions point out once again that Maddie is X-Man’s genetic mother, and once again the readers have to endure several pages of the duo flirting with one another. When a few girls who aren’t related to X-Man hit on him in a bar, Madelyne retaliates by approaching a group of men who aren’t related to her, either. This isn’t spite, it’s healthy. For the love of God, keep making each other mad.
The action comes from a cluster of…cybernetic bugs, I guess, that are causing earthquakes in the countryside. Ness finally runs into X-Man as the bugs attack and prompts him to “think bigger.” I’m not sure what exactly happens in the next sequence, but apparently X-Man launches a mental assault from the skies that ends the attacks. Ness and Madelyne search for X-Man after the quakes stop, but can’t find him. A little more information is given on Ness, as Madelyne recognizes him as a figure “hiding in the shadows” during X-Man’s vision of his own death. That was worth a four-month wait, wasn’t it? I guess I should be glad one minor mystery is almost resolved, though.
Ness’ arc seems like the only idea Kavanagh has any real interest in exploring, as the Threnody and Gauntlet subplots continue to appear and reappear at random. As for the doctor who somehow gained a portion of X-Man’s powers, and the three “bad girls” from New York, I’m assuming their stories can officially go in the “dropped subplot” category at this point. And, seriously, how much longer does this Madelyne Pryor nonsense last? Did Kavanagh ever even connect her back to the long-running Hellfire Club subplot he abandoned ages ago?