A Night on the Town!
Credits: Chris Claremont (writer), Tom Grummett (pencils), Cory Hamscher (inks), Wilfredo Quintana (colors), Tom Orzechowski (letters)
Summary: Spider-Man convinces Rogue that he’s on her side, and the duo soon begins an all-night crime fighting spree. Meanwhile, Mystique searches the city for Rogue and Nightcrawler, while the X-Men adjust to life “out of phase” in the mansion. Ziggy Trask announces that Sentinels will now patrol Manhattan, just as Jean Grey senses that Rogue is missing. Shadowcat, Nightcrawler, and Jean eventually locate Spider-Man and Rogue. With Mystique’s help, they defeat Trask’s Sentinels. Mystique abruptly announces that she wants to join the X-Men. Elsewhere, in Alaska, Robyn Hanover hires Corsair as a pilot.
- According to Cyclops, Shadowcat’s activation of the “tesseract field” looked like an explosion, but in fact placed the mansion “just a second out of phase with the reality of the rest of the world.”
- Nick Fury, along with Daisy Dugan and a few other SHIELD agents loyal to him now live in the mansion. Their new uniforms look like leftover designs from the X-Men movies.
- Apparently even Chris Claremont ignores the “Mystique can only morph into humanoid forms” rule, as she turns into a monster in order to intimidate a barfly this issue.
- Shadowcat and Nightcrawler detect the “barest hint of Phoenix” when Jean uses her powers to crumple the Sentinels into a giant ball.
- Rogue thinks she can escape the mansion unnoticed because Roma’s spell makes her invisible to electronic devices. Even Daisy Dugan says Rogue is invisible to “our hardware, the mansion systems, the Shi’ar tech, everything!” However, Rogue (along with the other X-Men who underwent Roma’s spell) was visible to the Danger Room’s surveillance in X-Men #1, and back in X-Men Forever #8-9, Rogue wasn't invisible to the Sentinels’ scanners.
Review: So, the new status quo for the X-Men is revealed this issue, and it turns out we’re getting an elaborate redo of the Outback years. I’m still not sure how I feel about this setup, perhaps because it ultimately doesn’t play a major role in the stories X-Men Forever has left, so there isn’t a lot to base a judgment on. I can understand why Claremont wants the world to think the X-Men dead, it’s a status quo he seems comfortable with, but the method he’s chosen this time pushes pseudo-science past the point where it has any real credibility. Perhaps it’s inconsistent for me to accept Roma using magic to help make the X-Men “ghosts” but not technology, but within the parameters of the Marvel Universe, I can buy into magic as an explanation easier than whatever-it-is Claremont’s decided this time. Looking back, I wonder now why Claremont didn’t just embrace the Australian Outback headquarters again. He’s clearly going for the same status quo, so why not create some macguffin that teleports the team away from the mansion and back to their original “hidden” base? The readers could also get Claremont’s resolution to the Gateway/Reavers dangling plotline out of the deal, since the appalling Uncanny X-Men #281 isn’t in-continuity in this reality.
Regarding the Spider-Man guest appearance, there’s no great need for him to be in the story, but my opinion hasn’t changed since the previous issue -- he’s entertaining enough and Tom Grummett draws a great Spider-Man. Claremont seems to be teasing a possible Rogue/Spider-Man romance, although on closer reading it seems as if Rogue is simply too eager for a kiss, a joy her powers previously denied her. Claremont’s comments online indicated that he still viewed Spider-Man as married in this continuity, and the “?!?” from Spider-Man would seem to signify that he doesn’t know what Rogue’s thinking. This is the kind of scene that could easily be grating, but it isn't so bad given the overall context of the story. Mystique’s sudden introduction into the story would seem to make sense if Claremont’s serious about playing up Rogue and Nightcrawler as “siblings,” although I don’t recall her joining the cast adding anything significant to the book. This title is already packed with numerous plot threads, so it’s not as if it needs yet another new cast member. Also, Mystique gets a misguided makeover after joining, just like everyone else in the book, and it’s pretty awful.