Credits: Chris Claremont (writer), Tom Grummett (pencils), Cory Hamscher (inks), Wilfredo Quintana (colors), Tom Orzechowski (letters)
Summary: As the X-Men prepare for Beast’s funeral, Xavier asks Jean to become co-headmaster of the school with Cyclops. She’s reluctant to agree. Nick Fury calls a meeting, announcing that his contingent of SHIELD agents will live with him at the school while they investigate corruption within SHIELD. At Beast’s funeral, the X-Men are joined by Beast’s teammates in the Avengers and Defenders. Later, Moira studies a way to restore Sabretooth’s healing factor, Nightcrawler comforts Rogue, and Xavier reflects on the X-Men’s past.
- Shadowcat tells Xavier that she not only has a portion of Wolverine’s healing factor, but she’s also dreaming in Japanese now.
- Cyclops is back to wearing his ‘70s/’80s costume, with no Jim Lee accessories added.
- The Avengers appear in their early ‘90s looks at the funeral, with the exception of Carol Danvers, who is now back to her traditional Ms. Marvel costume.
Review: X-Men Forever closes out its first volume, although the Giant Size X-Men Forever special is just two weeks away, followed immediately by the debut of X-Men Forever 2. Claremont does attempt to make this issue feel like some kind of an ending, with the Beast’s funeral serving as an obvious means of closure. The issue has a few of the typical human touches you would expect in a Claremont mourning story, and going straight to the funeral instead of inserting a new storyline (as done after Wolverine’s death) helps to sell the idea this is “real” in a way. There’s a great idea here that the X-Men are the only heroes not allowed to be “out” during the funeral, emphasizing that the X-Men don’t expect or even desire public acceptance.
Jean Grey serves as the focus for much of the issue, which is slightly annoying for any reader who hasn’t bought into her romance with Beast. Let’s face it, Jean’s been bouncing from partner to partner throughout the run of this title so far, but Claremont is putting some effort into making her sympathetic. Jean is now declaring that she can’t be close to anyone, since she’s obviously bad luck for everyone she loves. This becomes the latest excuse for her not to be with Cyclops; Jean tells him this issue that she wants him to be able to watch his son grow up. Claremont certainly seems committed to keeping Scott and Jean apart, while fighting any cheap attempt to make either character the bad guy. It works surprisingly well, but even after seeing the story through to the conclusion, I still have a hard time rationalizing pairing Jean with Beast, especially when the book opened with Jean “cheating” on Scott with Wolverine. Is Jean now fodder for perpetual love triangle plots and nothing else? Claremont also seems to be skirting over the relationship between Jean and little Nathan. She became his mother figure in X-Factor, as I recall, yet she’s totally ignored his existence in this series so far.
The biggest relief this issue is seeing the return of Tom Grummett and Cory Hamscher. Killing off Beast and Tony Stark was already a dodgy move, but doing it in an issue without the regular art team made it seem even more unreal. Their return makes the funeral feel like more of an event, and it’s a nice excuse to see Tom Grummett’s interpretation of the Avengers of this period. The issue also has a much stronger handle on the splash pages; they’re still present, but they’re now being used as the background for very Claremontian speeches. The splashes feel much less obtrusive and arbitrary here because they actually carry some weight. For the first time in months, the story doesn’t feel needlessly padded.