The Gathering Storm
Credits: Chris Claremont (writer), Rodney Buchemi (pencils), Greg Adams (inks), Wilfredo Quintana (colors), Tom Orzechowski (letters)
Summary: The Ghost Panther attacks the plane taking the captive ‘Ro from Japan to Wakanda. ‘Ro awakens in the Genoshan underground. Lockheed, who has secretly followed her the entire time, is there. Callisto and the Ghost Panther explain to ‘Ro that’s she’s needed to stop Perfect Storm. Meanwhile, the X-Men meet inside the Starjammer in Summers Cove. Shadowcat reveals that she traveled to Japan to find Wolverine’s clone. Using the Starjammer’s technology, Havok tracks ‘Ro to Genosha.
- The narrative captions refer to Ghost Panther as a “he” -- which is a cheat given future revelations.
- Havok says that he’s still officially a Genoshan magistrate, which will enable the X-Men to search Genosha for ‘Ro. Whether or not Havok and Polaris are supposed to be members of X-Factor in this reality is never clear.
Creative Differences: Apparently, the originally solicited cover for this issue was scrapped and used in issue #13.
Review: The glacial pacing has returned, even though the title is only a few issues away from cancellation. Almost half of the issue is devoted to getting ‘Ro from Japan to Genosha, all to learn that she’s to play an unrevealed role in the next issue. The opening fight scene with Ghost Panther runs a little long, but that’s somewhat forgivable considering Claremont’s using this opportunity to sell the ruse that Ghost Panther is somehow a resurrected Black Panther. But the pages wasted on ‘Ro being shackled for no reason by the Morlocks in Genosha, and then escaping and sneaking around their base, are inexcusable. Ghost Panther, Callisto, and the Morlocks are on ‘Ro’s side. That’s made clear in the opening scene, then repeated explicitly by Callisto after ‘Ro is “caught.” There’s no reason for her to be shackled, other than to kill a few more pages before the issue’s over.
And the pages that aren’t devoted to ‘Ro consist of the various cast members talking about ‘Ro. Numerous pages in the story are spent on Perfect Storm in Wakanda and the X-Men in Alaska discussing events we’ve already seen, developing theories, and then making plans for the future. The most grating scene has Mariko condescendingly mocking Perfect Storm for losing ‘Ro, since Claremont has somehow decided that Mariko should now have the White Queen’s speech pattern. Even if Claremont intended this to be a possessed, brainwashed, or evil doppelganger version of Mariko, this wouldn't be any less annoying, since the title has already seen so many “evil” versions of established characters suddenly appear.
The only genuine human interaction in the issue comes from Shadowcat’s revelation to the team that Sinister made a Wolverine clone, and even that seems needlessly melodramatic. (Surely the X-Men are used to the concept of cloning by now.) It’s not as if Claremont hasn’t already set up around eighty other plots in this title so far; maybe a few of them could’ve received this attention instead?