Credits: Chris Claremont (writer), Jim Lee (penciler), Scott Williams (inker), Joe Rosas (colors), Patrick Brosseau (letters)
Summary: Gambit and Jubilee stop Xavier from executing Deathbird, which attracts the attention of the remaining X-Men. Xavier’s guards have already placed Gambit and Jubilee in custody before the X-Men arrive, but Wolverine discerns something’s wrong when he finds Jubilee’s earring on the ground. He strikes and kills Xavier. Psylocke incapacities Wolverine, while Lila Cheney teleports Deathbird and the rest of the X-Men away. Lila takes them to the decimated planet of the P!ndyr, which Deathbird claims is just one of Xavier’s victims. Soon, the team is attacked by the Starjammers. Deathbird and Lila abruptly teleport away. Meanwhile, Jubilee and Wolverine discover the real Xavier and Psylocke are the Skrulls’ captives. A Skrull named Prime adopts Xavier’s identity and telepathically brings Lilandra under his control.
Gambit implies to Jubilee that he’s dressed as a hero so he feels obligated to play the part. Another hint that he might not be as altruistic as he seems. The Skrull-Xavier comments that Gambit's thoughts are “like quicksilver” and are difficult to pin down.
This issue confirms that Xavier (or at least his Skrull impersonator) is the “Warlord” that Lila Cheney was running from months earlier.
Gambit isn’t shown with Jubilee at the end, but his presence is hinted at earlier, as we see a mystery hand playing Solitaire onboard the Starjammer’s ship.
Skrulls traditionally cannot take on the powers of the superhumans they impersonate. The creators get around this by having the aliens use a giant macguffin device that allows them to absorb mutant powers into a matrix and imprint them on a special breed of Skrull (later identified as “War-Skrulls”).
Approved By The Comics Code Authority: Both Wolverine and Jubilee are (tastefully) nude when they’re thrown into the Skrull’s matrix.
Review: As you would expect from a Chris Claremont comic from this era, it’s a densely packed story filled with a few dozen characters, the team is split apart, there’s a little bit of mind control, and villains are masquerading as heroes. It’s not a quick read, but the story absolutely maintained my interest as a child, and as an adult I’m able to appreciate it on a different level and pick up on little bits I never noticed before (like that mystery hand playing Solitaire, for instance.) For a young reader not familiar with all of the cheats that a comic writer can employ, reading the opening half of this issue was a bizarre experience. I had a strong suspicion that Xavier wouldn’t turn out to truly be a villain, but seeing Wolverine kill him, and then Psylocke turn on Wolverine and the X-Men team up with Deathbird just made this story feel like a very big deal indeed.
All of the little character bits also helped to draw me into the world. Maybe Gambit’s jokes are covering his true motives? Is Jubilee right; has Psylocke been waiting to double-cross Wolverine all along? Forge even gives a poetic soliloquy about the veneer of civilization and the horrors of war. Like I’ve said before, I loved this stuff as a kid because I didn’t feel as if I was being spoken down to, and even if this chapter is largely devoted to getting the characters in place for the climax, it still feels like actual care was placed in crafting the story. And even assuming that all of those words bored some kids, Jim Lee’s art had to get some kind of reaction out of them. Not only are all of the characters beautifully rendered (to the point that every single female character vaguely resembles early ‘90s Cindy Crawford), but the spacecrafts, guns, and alien technology are very ambitious for a mainstream comic of the era. Since the bulk of the audience had no idea Lee was drawing much of his inspiration from anime, that had to make this material even more impressive.