Credits: Chris Claremont (writer), Rick Leonardi (penciler), Al Williamson & Jimmy Palmiotti (inks), Shannon Blanchard (colors), Tom Orzechowski (letters)
Summary: Shadowcat and Alasdhair escape from the Shadow King-possessed Phoenix and arrive in Edinburgh. At a party hosted by Lady Windermere, they search for Phoenix and Lilibet. Alasdhair is captured and forced to participate in an occult ceremony that will erase certain bloodlines and place Lady Windermere on the throne. Instead, Windermere dies during the ceremony after Shadowcat rescues Alasdhair. While escaping, Shadowcat and Alasdhair crash into the docks and are rescued by Wolverine. After defeating more of the Shadow King’s men, Wolverine agrees to search for Lilibet and Phoenix.
This is the first flashback story to feature Wolverine with bone claws. Previously, Wolverine had no idea if he was born with bone claws or if they were somehow related to his adamantium claws. The 1998 “Children of the Atom” crossover was the first hint that he was born with them, however, as Rogue grew bone claws after absorbing his powers. (Which might’ve been an artist’s mistake, but it’s long been considered canon now.) It’s possible Claremont didn’t even intend for Wolverine’s claws to be bone when the story was first written, since I’m not sure if Claremont ever set a date on when exactly Wolverine went through the Weapon X project. The claws look more bone than metal, though, so at the very least a decision was made at some point to go with bone claws in the past.
I believe that this is the earliest date, 1936, that we’ve seen Logan referred to as “Wolverine.”
The Shadow King finds Shadowcat’s mind almost impossible to read, due to her intangibility. She’s also able to make Alasdhair immune to Shadow King by making him intangible.
I Love the '90s: Kitty exclaims “As IF!” after Geist suggests they meet again in the future at the party.
Review: So, the complicated plot involving the British throne continues, as Claremont throws in more time travel elements, and romance, and the Shadow King, and mysticism, and finally, somewhat abruptly, Shadowcat’s vow to kill Hitler. At the close of the issue, just as Wolverine agrees to search for their missing friends, Kitty just throws that in there. I’m not necessarily opposed to a time travel story that involves Kitty dealing with that old moral quandary (even if Hitler’s not a baby in this situation, WWII hasn’t started yet), but this story is already packed and we really don’t need any more diversions.
Even ignoring Kitty’s sudden bloodlust at the end, the compressed nature of the story is its largest failing. Most of the individual elements of the story are fine, the problem is none of them have room to breathe. The romance between Kitty and Alasdhair is cute, the revelations about the Shadow King are potentially interesting (especially if you remember some hints dropped during Claremont’s Excalibur run), and the attempt to merge X-continuity with historical fact is admirable. Little moments, like Kitty humoring the Nazi Geist with small talk at a party, are also nicely done. But crammed together, there’s no room for any thread to have much of an impact. Plus, there’s an annoying tendency to play fast and loose with continuity that’s sure to annoy many readers. Kitty’s casually given a power upgrade that prevents even the Shadow King from touching her mentally, and we discover that Wolverine of all people just happened to stop by during this time travel adventure. Yes, we soon learn the identities of the people who pointed him in Kitty’s direction, but that merely adds more coincidences and random X-connections to the plot.