Credits: Chris Claremont (writer), Rodney Buchemi (pencils), Greg Adams (inks), Wilfredo Quintana (colors), Tom Orzechowski (letters)
Summary: Shadowcat rescues ‘Ro from Masque, while Cyclops and Gambit fight Masque’s influence on their bodies. Daisy forces the Morlocks to listen to her, explaining that the X-Men are not their enemies. Masque restores Cyclops and Gambit’s faces and a truce is reached. Suddenly, SHIELD agents enter to investigate the mutant activity. The Morlocks attack, allowing the X-Men to escape. Masque’s team is soon rescued by Callisto, who leads her own band of Morlocks. She sends the captive SHIELD agents to Archangel. Via communicator, Callisto reveals to her mysterious partner, the Ghost Panther, that the X-Men are alive. Meanwhile, Nightcrawler convinces the X-Men to accept Mystique. Moira requests a study of Mystique’s DNA, believing she might hold the key to curing Burnout. In Alaska, Robyn Hanover stays with the Summers while waiting for a storm to pass.
- A narrative caption gives ‘Ro’s age as “eleven and change.” ‘Ro also has no memories of Callisto or the Morlocks, another example of her not remembering things that she should know.
- Callisto is back to wearing an eye patch, and her model looks are now gone. I know that Scott Lobdell provided the mainstream continuity’s explanation for how this happened during the intolerable “Last Morlock Story,” but Claremont hasn’t given the details for Forever’s continuity yet.
- Apparently, Masque can actually control a person’s body after he alters his or her face, since he can order Gambit and Cyclops to kill ‘Ro. This is an aspect of Masque’s powers I don’t remember at all.
- Sabretooth reveals that Sinister cloned him years ago and that he never participated in the Mutant Massacre.
- After Mystique sees a brief manifestation of the Phoenix Force while Jean Grey is interrogating her, she wonders how she can use it to her advantage.
Review: The leisurely pace of the earlier issues is gone, which helps the series feel closer to what the audience normally associates with a Chris Claremont story. The execution is still uneven, though. The issue opens with more mind control, which ultimately adds nothing to the story except fodder for Claremont’s critics, and ends with the dubious concept that the Morlocks can be trusted to take care of the SHIELD agents that have seen the X-Men alive. It’s only sheer luck that Callisto arrives and takes command from Masque, who would’ve surely killed them if his group won the fight. And even more luck that Callisto is somehow affiliated with Archangel, and this mysterious Ghost Panther (who doesn’t seem to be associated with Archangel, since Ghost Panther didn’t know the X-Men are alive, even though Archangel already knew.) There’s also a faintly ridiculous scene that has Nightcrawler giving an emotional speech and magically changing the X-Men’s mind about taking in Mystique, something they seemed adamantly opposed to doing just a few pages earlier. This scene would’ve surely been helped by an artist with better acting skills than Rodney Buchemi, but even the best artists would’ve been hard pressed to sell such an abrupt turnaround. There is a decent idea in here -- Mystique has seen those closest to her die and wants a second chance with her children, a plea the compassionate Nightcrawler can’t deny -- but the execution is too rushed to work.
There’s another significant moment that’s dropped in amongst the chaos -- Sabretooth’s revelation that he isn’t the Marauders’ Sabretooth. I can understand why Claremont feels that this is a necessary move if he wants Sabretooth as a regular cast member, but even if we accept that this is the “real” Sabretooth that’s never met the X-Men before, that doesn't eliminate all of the problems. The “real” Sabretooth is the same one who murdered and possibly raped Silver Fox. He killed the innocent woman Wolverine met in a bar in Classic X-Men #10’s back-up story. He tried to kill his own son every year on his birthday. Even this Sabretooth is already too far gone for a believable redemption arc. Every scene with him lately just feels like an effort to remake Sabretooth into Wolverine, which raises the question of why Wolverine was killed off in the first place.