Credits: Fabian Nicieza & Steve Skroce (story & art), Rob Hunter (inker), Shannon Blanchard (colors), Comicraft (letters)
Summary: Gambit and Storm visit Moira MacTaggert on Muir Island. Gambit creates a power blackout in order to cover his secret mission, inadvertently releasing a failsafe that will destroy all of Moira’s mutant research. He saves the data from destruction, but also makes a copy for New Son. Later, Storm reveals to Gambit that she framed his family for one of their jobs during their days as thieves. She explains she did the wrong thing for the right reason, relating it to Gambit’s past with Mr. Sinister. Meanwhile, X-Cutioner recruits a team and Fontanelle invades Tante Mattie’s dreams.
Continuity Notes: Tante Mattie’s dream has her as a little girl in 1891. Gambit arrives to save her from a mob, leading Fontanelle to question if Gambit is older than he appears or a time traveler. The Mengo Brothers, next issue's villains, also debut in a one-page, extremely vague, subplot scene (they’re killing people in Chicago and apparently deleting information from a computer).
Gimmicks: In an effort to lessen falling sales for second issues, Marvel released a variant cover for every #2 issue during this era. This issue’s variant cover is by Adam Kubert.
Review: I’m not sure why Gambit’s friendship with Storm was downplayed after Claremont left the titles, but it’s nice to see Nicieza reviving it for one issue. Taking in all of Gambit’s accumulated backstory, Nicieza’s decided to play up the angle that Gambit’s historically used the ends to justify the means. Nicieza will go on to explore just how far Gambit’s willing to take this, and if he can hold on to this attitude while remaining an X-Man. He also uses the theme as a backdoor way out of Uncanny X-Men #350’s absurd ending, as Storm declares that Gambit was wrong for his past actions, but admits so were the X-Men for leaving him in the Antarctic. They both felt justified in their actions at the time, and realize now that they’re wrong. No hard feelings, right?
The ongoing narration does an effective job of conveying Gambit’s guilt over this theft while also providing some justification for his actions. This is actually a nice example of why arbitrary rules like “No More Captions” are absurd. Yes, many people abused the privilege with outlandishly boring prose, but some writers can use those little boxes of text well. Skroce does a great job of conveying the action sequences, but the prose fleshes out Gambit’s character and suggests ideas that couldn’t be translated by a silent action scene.
The idea that Moira’s rigged her research to be shot into the sky in a rocket and explode following a sixty-second blackout is a little hard to swallow, but the setup plays to Skroce’s strengths (elaborate character movement, explosions, debris) and it kind of works within the context of a superhero universe. Moira doesn’t want Bastion or anyone else to steal her info, but she’s humane enough to at least shoot it into the sky before it explodes. That’s awfully considerate of her.