In a Nutshell
Kitty and Storm discuss their relationship, after which the X-Men are whisked away to Secret Wars
Writer: Chris Claremont
Artists: John Romita Jr., Dan Green and Bob Wiacek
Letterer: Tom Orzechowski
Colorist: Glynis Wein
Editor: Louise Jones
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter
Reveling in his recently regained ability to walk, Professor X plays basketball in the Danger Room until he's hit by another debilitating psionic scanning wave. Hearing him cry out, Storm enters, and the pair discuss Storm's recent physical and emotional changes. Meanwhile, Kitty and Doug Ramsey are kicked out of an arcade after Kitty's high score breaks the game. Over lunch, they discuss Kitty's anger at Storm for changing from the woman Kitty knew into someone who scares her, as well as Doug's upcoming interview with the Massachusetts Academy. At the mansion, Colossus and Wolverine discuss Colossus' feelings for Kitty and his concern over her friendship with Doug, someone her own age with similar interests. At the botanical gardens, Storm visits her plants and stops a mugging.
That evening, the X-Men discuss Doug's trip to the Massachusetts Academy. Kitty proposes tagging along to make sure Doug doesn't fall into the hands of the Hellfire Club, with Professor X monitoring her telepathically. With the White Queen in a coma, the X-Men believe the danger is minimal, so Storm and Xavier agree to Kitty's plan. After the meeting, Storm whisks Kitty into the sky, and the two discuss their relationship. Kitty admits to being mad at Storm for changing from the person she was, while Storm assures Kitty that her feelings about Kitty haven't changed. Storm tells Kitty she needs the strength of a true friend as she continues to discover herself, and Kitty agrees to do her best to stand by her. The following week, the X-Men drop Kitty off at the airport. She and Doug board a private jet bound for the Massachusetts Academy while the X-Men proceed to Central Park, the location to which Professor X is suddenly able to pinpoint the scanning wave's origin point. When they arrive, they discover a massive alien structure. At the same time, Kitty and Doug are just settling in for their flight when the White Queen emerges from the cabin of the plane. Kitty mentally calls out for Professor X, but before her cry for help can reach him, he and the X-Men enter the alien structure and disappear from the planet.
Firsts and Other Notables
Kitty (and the rest of the X-Men, and the readers) learn that Doug Ramsey is a mutant in this issue, with the power to decipher languages (which explains his skill with computer programming languages), something Professor X describes as a non-demonstrative power, one not suited for combat, suggesting Xavier has a reached a point where he no longer feels compelled to recruit every new mutant to the school (something which fits the recent relative population explosion of mutants suggested by, amongst other things, the Morlocks).
With Professor Xavier regaining the use of his legs in New Mutants #14, this issue marks the beginning of a protracted period in which a fully mobile Xavier will frequently join the X-Men out in the field, though Claremont will continue to concoct a variety of limitations for him to prevent him from simply being able to telepathically solve all the X-Men's problems.
The White Queen has awoken from the coma caused by Mastermind.
The tension simmering between Storm and Kitty since Storm's transformation is defused in this issue, with Storm admitting that she was wrong to act as Kitty's mother, and forcing Kitty to accept that it's okay when people you care about change, setting the stage for Kitty's own personal heartbreak and personality changes in the months ahead.
Professor X is hit with the fourth and final scanning wave from the Beyonder, and by the end of the issue, he's able to trace to it an alien structure in Central Park. That structure appeared in most of the Marvel titles on sale at the same time as this issue (at least, the titles of characters who would appear in Secret Wars), and most of those issues ended with the characters being strangely drawn to the structure and entering it, only to disappear, setting up their appearances in Secret Wars #1.
Phoenix: The Untold Story, the special issue showcasing the original ending to the "Dark Phoenix Saga", discussed here, was on sale at the same time as this issue, as was Marvel Graphic Novel #9, featuring the first appearance of Dave Cockrum's Futurians, the characters he left X-Men to develop.
A Work in Progress
Professor X opens the issue playing basketball and mentions to Storm his past as an athlete, something that was actually established back in the early days of Lee and Kirby.
Xavier notices how physically attractive Storm is for the first time, something that, despite Storm not being a student in the same way as, say, Kitty or Dani and the fact that the usually-asexual Xavier has spent much of the last year making out with Lilandra, still comes across as a little random, if not skeevy.
Professor X also does a cursory scan of Storm's mind and confirms that her recent behavior is not being caused by a mental illness.
Kitty opens up to Doug about exactly why Storm's transformation bothers her so much.
We learn that when emptying her attic, Storm did not destroy her plants, but rather donated them to a botanical garden.
While attacking a group of muggers, Storm shows off her Wolverine-trained hand-to-hand skills.
Storm tells Kitty that she herself isn't sure how she feels about her recent personality change, but that for the first time in her life, she's feeling real, genuine emotion without reservation, and that she needs Kitty to stand by her while she figures out what kind of person she wants to be.
I Love the 80s
This issue is a treasure trove of 80s references and fashions, starting with Kitty's look on the cover and throughout the issue.
While playing basketball, Professor X references Kareem Abdul Jabar, and, having regained the ability to walk, he too can now show off his gams with a pair of 80s short-shorts.
Later, Kitty and Doug are kicked out of an arcade for breaking a game with their high score, and for always being able to play each game on only one quarter.
I'm not quite sure how to categorize this observation, but one of the muggers tells the women they're attacking that she needs to make them "real happy" to save her husband, a clear insinuation of sexual assault, made all the more reprehensible/questionable given that the woman appears to be, well, older.
Colossus tries to work through his feelings and worries about Kitty while performing that old favorite physical activity of Claremont's, tending to a tree on the mansion grounds.
Colossus notes that back in Russia, he and Kitty could be married by now.
He also admits to Wolverine that's he grown jealous of Kitty's friendship with Doug.
After preventing a couple from being mugged, Storm notes the people she rescued still look upon her with fear for being a mutant.
There's ad for the Atari version of the arcade classic Joust, a game I was largely unfamiliar with until I read Ready Player One, in which it features prominently.
This is perhaps Claremont's most overtly soap operatic issue yet. A cliffhanger setup for Secret Wars and New Mutants aside, it concerns itself not with the machinations of super-villains, grandiose sci-fi ideas or tensions between humans and mutants. Instead, the focus is entirely on the characters and their relationships. At the center of this is Storm. The only traditional action in the issue comes from Storm's fight with a group of would-be muggers, connecting the issue back to #122, a similarly soap operatic issue which used a similar confrontation as its central action set-piece. By contrasting the two encounters, Claremont highlights the changes in herself that Storm has experienced (that Storm was frightened to use her powers against the muggers for fear of harming them unnecesarily; this Storm eschews using her mutant abilities because it'll be "more fun" without them), setting the stage for the issue's climatic showdown between Kitty and Storm.
In a scene that is played entirely straight (disregard the fact that the conversation is occurring in mid-air, the pair held aloft by Storm's winds, and it's a conversation that could have occurred between any two people anywhere), Kitty and Storm hash out their feelings for one another. In the process, they come to an understanding, ending the animosity that's been simmering between them since Storm's transformation in issue #173 and foreshadowing more heartbreak for Kitty in the months ahead. Though he'll never leave the comic book trappings behind entirely, with this issue Claremont shows that he's completely comfortable occasionally putting nothing but the relationships of the characters front and center.
Tomorrow, we follow Kitty to the Massachusetts Academy in New Mutants #15, and next week we follow the rest of the X-Men to Battleworld in Secret Wars #1-12.