In a Nutshell
The X-Men defeat Moses Magnum, but Banshee loses his powers in the process.
Author/Co-Plotter: Chris Claremont
Artist/Co-Plotter: John Byrne
Inker: Terry Austin
Colorist: G. Wein
Editor: R. Stern
Editor-in-Chief: J. Shooter
Near the Kuril Islands, Storm and Nightcrawler approach Moses Magnum's base inside a dead volcano, drawing near enough for Nightcrawler to teleport inside. With Storm and Banshee providing a distraction, Nightcrawler makes his way deeper into the base, thinking back on the X-Men's briefing from the Prime Minister's aid about Moses Magnum. Beneath the ocean floor, Cyclops, Sunfire, Wolverine and Colossus are tunneling towards Magnum's base, waiting for Nightcrawler to activate a beacon that will allow them to surface inside the base. They emerge to find Magnum waiting for them, and a battle erupts. Magnum easily defeats Wolverine and Colossus, but realizing the X-Men's assault means Japan will not capitulate to his demands, Magnum breaks off from the battle to activate his Magnum Force in order to destroy the country. With the rest of the X-Men occupied battling more Mandroids, Banshee intercepts Magnum's energy blast with a powerful sonic scream, modulating the frequency to match the Magnum Force. Banshee manages to reflect back the blast, destroying Magnum's base, and saving Japan, though the effort leaves his vocal chords severely injured.
Ten days later, Banshee returns to Sunfire's house from the hospital, having spent the last week and a half in a coma. He enters the darkened house wondering why none of his teammates met him at the hospital when the X-Men surprise him with a Christmas greeting. The X-Men celebrate Christmas together, though Wolverine leaves to find Mariko while Colossus misses his family. Meanwhile, Jean Grey arrives in Edinburgh, Scotland where she meets up with Moira MacTaggert, Jamie Madrox, Havok and Polaris; the group plans to spend the holidays together in the city before returning to Muir Island. Unbeknownst to them, at that moment on Muir Island, Angus MacWhirter has broken in, but is attacked by an unseen force.
Firsts and Other Notables
His vocal chords damaged in the wake of his battle with Moses Magnum, Banshee loses his powers. Though he'll remain with the team for several more issues, he will be without his power for the next ten years of publication.
The letters page this issue announces that X-Men recently won two Eagle Awards (the British Comic Book Fan Awards): Favorite Comic Book (dramatic) and Favorite Team. Additionally, Terry Austin won the Favorite Inker award. The cover also features an emblem announcing the Eagle Award wins.
A Work in Progress
Nightcrawler knocks a guard unconscious, and notes that Wolverine would have handled it differently.
Colossus once again bemoans his recent ineffectiveness.
Just as with Cyclops and Garrok at the end of issue #116, this story ends with one X-Man pitting his power directly against the villain's.
Storm realizes how close the X-Men have become, recognizing them as a family of sorts. She also calls Colossus "little brother" for the first time.
Colossus notes that he is the only member of the team with an actual family outside the X-Men, which is kinda sad when you think about it.
After leaving the hospital, Sean thinks about calling Moira, which begs the question of why he hasn't called her yet (perhaps after Cyclops was done trying the mansion last issue). Which further begs the question of why, when Cyclops failed to reach Xavier, he didn't try calling Moira to find out if she knew where Xavier was or why the mansion was shut down.
Jean arrives in Scotland following her vacation and meets up with Moira, Havok, Polaris and Multiple Man, and will stay with that group on Muir Island for several months.
Angus MacWhirter, last seen reluctantly renting the X-Men a hovercraft in issue #104, breaks in to Muir Island, determined to have his revenge for the destruction of the craft, but is attacked by an unseen assailant.
Extra pages in the Classic X-Men backup retcon Apocalypse into Moses Magnum's origin, establishing him as the source of Magnum's power.
That 70s Comic
Cyclops and Sunfire combine their powers to burrow under the ocean floor towards Magnum's island base, which makes less sense the more you think about it.
Magnum boasts of his great power, yet despite having the X-Men on the ropes, he breaks off his attack to sink Japan, rather than finishing off the X-Men.
And, as was mentioned in the comments last week, the Prime Minister's aide specifically points out how susceptible Japan is to being killed by an earthquake, making Magnum's attempted feat somewhat less spectacular. And after threatening to earthquake Japan to death last issue, this issue we find out Magnum's base is inside a volcano, completing the super-villain cliche.
The X-Men leave Banshee to take a cab back to Sunfire's house following his release from the hospital, causing him to think they don't care about him, just to surprise him with a party when he arrives. Sure, the surprise was nice, but it was still kind of a dick move.
This is one of the most Claremontian issues yet, with Colossus dropping a "by the White Wolf" oath and Nightcrawler lacing his English with random German words (here, it's "verruckt", or crazy).
Claremont also uses the phrase "moving with a speed that's belied by his massive armored form", to describe Colossus' movement, in a narrative caption for the first time; it will not be the last time we see some variation of that phrase used to describe the movement of a larger character.
The X-Men get another "unclean" win, as they defeat Magnum and save Japan, but at the cost of Banshee's power.
Finally, Claremont turns up the heat on a long simmering subplot, as Angus MacWhirterer walks past the breached Mutant X holding cell, last seen in issue #104. He doesn't turn the heat up too far, though; we won't return to that subplot until issue #125.
During the Christmas celebration, Wolverine runs off to find Mariko, and Storm notes the uncharacteristic gentleness she sees in Wolverine as he does so.
It's in the Mail
Feedback regarding Cyclops' reaction to Jean's apparent death in issue #114.
Claremont and Byrne wrap up the Japan leg of the X-Men's world tour with an issue that is almost evenly divided between superhero action and character introspection. The former is fairly rote, and certainly not the best action we've seen so far in their run. It certainly doesn't help that Moses Magnum, with his generic power and unclear motivations, isn't exactly making anyone's "Best Villains" list. The later part of the issue is much better, as we see the X-Men celebrating Christmas together, and for the first time, are presented with the idea that the X-Men have become something more than teammates to one another. The idea of the superhero team as a family isn't new (heck, the Fantastic Four kicked off Marvel's Silver Age with that idea), but this is really the first time we see an otherwise unrelated group of teammates refer to themselves as a family. It's a strong idea, and combined with the sheer popularity of the Claremont/Byrne run, other creators will pick it up and run with it. To this day, the idea of the super-hero team as a family unit is such a staple of the genre it's hard to believe there was a time when the idea was new.
Things turn frosty as the X-Men arrive in Canada...