Credits: Chris Claremont (writer), Jim Lee (penciler), Scott Williams (inker), Joe Rosas (colors), Tom Orzechowski (letters)
Summary: Gambit ambushes the Skrull-Starjammers while the X-Men attack their ship from the outside. Meanwhile, Lila Cheney responds to the telepathic prompting in Deathbird’s head and teleports them to the Skrull’s secret location. Deathbird is captured as the Skrull impersonating Xavier steals the telepathic powers of Xavier, Psylocke, and Oracle. Lila teleports, then returns with the X-Men. The Skrulls are defeated and Deathbird willingly gives up her crown to Lilandra. Banshee informs Xavier of events on Earth, and after Xavier reads Storm’s memories, he realizes the Shadow King has returned. Lila teleports the X-Men back to Earth. Meanwhile, a Shadow King-possessed Colossus targets Stevie Hunter.
The special breed of Skrulls impersonating the X-Men and Starjammers are called “War-Skrulls” for the first time. They discorporate after being defeated, leaving no answers as to their mysterious origins.
Xavier reveals that he’s been subconsciously influencing Deathbird since being captured, which explains how she knew to contact Lila Cheney, and then the X-Men, in the first place.
However briefly, this issue marks the first time Xavier meets Forge, Jubilee, Psylocke, and Gambit.
Another “sinister” Gambit hint: He tells the Skrull-Starjammers that they can’t kill Banshee because he hasn’t learned Banshee's secrets yet.
We Get Letters: The letters page announces the ongoing X-Men series for the first time. The plan is for Chris Claremont to write both monthly titles.
Review: This is Jim Lee’s final Uncanny X-Men issue, even though he’ll of course go on to do another year of X-Men issues. It’s also the last Uncanny X-Men issue to feature Chris Claremont telling stories at his own pace without an inordinate amount of editorial influence. The next issue begins the “Muir Island Saga,” which began life as a truncated version of a story arc Claremont intended to run until Uncanny X-Men #300. Claremont probably wasn’t thrilled to see his long-term plans rushed to fit into a three-month crossover, or the idea of a more traditional X-Men with Xavier at the helm, but he seemed willing to stick around at the time. He’s gone before “Muir Island Saga” is even finished, though, reportedly because he resented the idea that he could only script and not plot stories in the future.
Where does that leave this issue? There don’t seem to be any obvious cracks beneath the surface, unless you count Xavier’s abrupt decision to return to Earth and take care of Shadow King. As a reader, however, that scene’s kind of a welcome relief. Rather than dragging the mystery out for even more months, Xavier’s given an opportunity to discover something’s wrong and then immediately declares he’s going to take action about it. Remember how rarely we ever saw the X-Men aggressively deal with Mr. Sinister, the Marauders, Genosha, the Reavers, etc. The X-Men aren’t really big on tying up loose ends, so it’s hard to complain about the team actually showing some gumption. And the conclusion to the Skrull arc is also a lot of fun. This issue has one of my favorite moments of this era, Gambit giving Gladiator “the whole deck” right into the gut (and notice that it's not "de whole deck"), so it’s hard for me not to get caught up in a little nostalgia. Claremont also manages to give most of the characters something to do in the plot, and throw in little bits of dialogue that show he’s given some thought to everyone’s point of view (such as Xavier commenting that he doesn’t recognize most of these “X-Men”). Lee and Williams’ art is also as dynamic as usual, and the colors still hold up fairly well, even if the book’s printed on terrible paper.