"Cry for the Children!"
In a Nutshell
The X-Men pick up their lives back in New York.
Writer/Co-Plotter: Chris Claremont
Artist/Co-Plotter: John Byrne
Inker: Terry Austin
Letterer: Tom Orzechowski
Colorist: Glynis Wein
Editor: Roger Stern
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter
Finally back at the mansion, Colossus trains in the Danger Room but is unable to stop a hydraulic press despite being nowhere near the limits of his strength. Wolverine disables the Danger Room controls and enters the room, placing himself between the presses. Chiding Colossus for letting his homesickness overwhelm him, Wolverine refuses to get to safety, forcing Colossus to overcome his worries in order to save Wolverine. Meanwhile, Cyclops leaves for town to get the phones turned back on, worried that Xavier and Lilandra may never return. In Shi'ar space, Professor X wonders how his relationship with Lilandra will change after she is crowned Empress. In Stornoway, Scotland, Jean bumps into a handsome man named Jason Wyngarde on her way to meet Moira, not knowing that Jason has plans for her involving the Hellfire Club.
Back in New York, Wolverine drops Storm off in Harlem, then spies Mariko outside the Japanese consulate; he is refused entry when he tries to see her. Storm returns to her family's old apartment to find a slum filled with heroin junkies. The junkies attack her, and though she easily fights them off, only the timely arrival of Luke Cage and Misty Knight prevent one from knifing her in the back. At the Salem Center train station, Cyclops and Colleen Wing say their goodbyes as Colleen boards a train into the city, though she gives Cyclops a key to her apartment. Meanwhile, over London, Juggernaut and Black Tom hire the assassin Arcade to kill the X-Men.
Firsts and Other Notables
Though these days it's not such a strange occurrence (in X-Men or superhero comics in general), this is the first issue of X-Men to feature no fights with a super-villain. The closest we get to the mandated-by-the-times action scenes are Colossus in the Danger Room and Storm briefly using her powers against a group of knife-wielding drug addicts.
It is revealed that the nearest town to the X-Mansion is the (fictional) Salem Center.
Arcade makes his debut in X-Men on the last page. A super-villain created by Claremont in the pages of Marvel Team-Up (in which he battled Spider-Man and Captain Britain), Arcade will go on to become a recurring (if somewhat one dimensional) villain for the X-Men and a mainstay of their rogue's gallery.
A Work in Progress
Cyclops references "that crazy fight with the Living Monolith", a reference to Power Man and Iron Fist #57, published the same month as this issue, which saw the title characters and the X-Men team-up against the Living Pharoah/Monolith, who no longer needs Havok's energy to transform into the Living Monolith, thus ending his abritary connection to the X-Men (the villain will not encounter the X-Men again until well after Claremont's departure). As Jason Powell points out, that issue of Power Man and Iron Fist also brings to an end Claremont and Byrne's extended riff on the Thomas/Adams run (the Living Pharoah being the villain of Adams' first issue) that compromised most of their "World Tour" arc of issues #111-121 (as well as Claremont's Sentinels story in issue #98-100). Having paid their respects to the past, from this point forward, Claremont and Byrne are breaking new ground.
The subtle subplot involving Colossus' relative ineffectiveness of late comes to the surface, as Wolverine gives him a bit of tough love and makes Colossus realize that, as the only X-Man with a family outside the time, its okay to feel homesick. This issue also marks the first time Colossus' full, non-Anglicized name is given: Piotr Nikolievitch Rasputin. It's also revealed that his power first manifested itself when he was thirteen.
Cyclops and Colleen visit the phone company to turn service to the mansion back on, explaining why the X-Men haven't yet contacted Muir Island, though Cyclops specifically says he intends to contact Moira regarding the execution of Professor X's estate, as he's currently running the mansion off his savings.
Banshee and Nightcrawler are working to get the X-Men's Blackbird jet running again.
Lilandra is crowned Empress of the Shi'ar as of this issue.
In Scotland, Jean seemingly bumps into a handsome man named Jason Wyngarde randomly. Unknown to her, Jason has big plans for Jean and ties to the Hellfire Club. He also casts an interesting shadow.
Claremont pulls a Stan Lee and refers to Jean's telekinesis as telepathy.
Also, we see a few people looking for Angus MacWhirter, who was attacked by Mutant X after breaking into Muir Island in issue #119.
Black Tom and Juggernaut reappear after their defeat in issue #104 to hire Arcade to kill the X-Men for them. This doesn't sit right with Juggernaut, who believes he should be the one to kill the X-Men, but Tom points out that Juggernaut has faced the X-Men six times now and lost. I count five Juggernaut/X-Men encounters: his first appearance, issue #32, issue #46, Incredible Hulk #172 (part of the "Secret Empire" story during the Hiatus years), and his first encounter with the new X-Men. Anyone know what the sixth might be?).
Luke Cage offers an interesting perspective on the role of the superhero in the society of the Marvel Universe which provides a handy in-universe explanation for why more superheroes don't target social ills as much as they do super-villains.
That 70s Comic
Storm returns to her early childhood home Harlem, and it's overrun by juvenile heroin addicts. It may come across as a bit dated and message-y today (especially when the blaxploitation-riffic Luke Cage and Misty Knight show up to give Ororo some lessons about life on the street) but the tone and depiction of drug use was surprisingly frank and realistic for the time.
Similarly, Luke Cage makes it clear he's frustrated by the system.
Cyclops and Colleen go on a date, and when Colleen heads back into the city, she gives Cyclops a key to her apartment. Which means he's either told her he thinks Jean is dead and Colleen has failed to inform Misty of this, or Colleen has no problem moving in on another woman's guy.
Wolverine spies Mariko in New York, but is turned away.
The Awesome and Terrible Power of Cyclops
Wolverine gets a good jab in at the expense of Cyclops' angst.
After back-to-back-to-back-to-back action-heavy stories, the X-Men finally return home and settle in for that classic Claremontian staple: the "quiet" issue! Though Claremont and Byrne have tried this kind of thing before (notably in issues #109 and #114) this is the first true quiet issue, one devoted entirely to character moments and the setup or advancement of subplots. Nowadays, that sort of thing seems more than ordinary, but at the time, it was damn near revolutionary ("a superhero comic without a superpowered slugfest? Blasphemy!"). It's a technique other writers will pick up on, and as superhero comics move further and further away from the one-and-done, "quickie disposable entertainment for kids" mentality, it will become as much a part of the genre as the slugfests. Still, with his love for multiple simmering subplots and his view of the X-Men as characters first, superheroes second, nobody does "quiet" issue quite like Chris Claremont.
The X-Men must fight for their lives inside Arcade's Murderworld.