In a Nutshell
The X-Men get sucked into an extradimensional void.
Plotted and Penciled: Whilce Portacio
Inked: Art Thibert
Scripted: John Byrne
Lettered: Michael Heisler
Edited: Bob Harras
Observed: Tom DeFalco
Adorned with new armor, Sunfire helps a team of Russian & Japanese scientists investigate a mysterious void near the Sakhalin Islands. Elsewhere, the X-Men are flying home from Fitzroy's destroyed base when Forge picks up a distress call from the scientists, and Storm tells him to redirect the Blackbird to respond. At the crater surrounding the void, Sunfire is battling three armored individuals who emerged as a result of his energy blasts just as the X-Men arrive and help turn the tide. Upon their defeat, the X-Men realize their foes are all human. One of them warns that the energy of the void is building, explaining they were trying to save the world by forcing everyone away from it. Just then, the void emits a massive blast, collapsing the crater as everyone is drawn into the void by a massive suction force. Monitoring in the Blackbird, Xavier tells Forge he can find no trace of the X-Men, and that if the vortex continues to expand, the world may well join them. Meanwhile, Bishop, Malcolm & Randall track down & kill two of the criminals Fitzroy transported from the future,. Bishop declares that if humankind has any hope of surviving, the three of them need to find and kill everyone Fitzroy brought into the present.
Firsts and Other Notables
This issue kicks off a three part storyline that finds the X-Men transported to an otherdimensional world, and sees the return of Colossus' brother Mikhail (though he doesn't make an appearance until next issue). It's...not very good.
Sunfire guest stars in this issue, and receives a new, 90s-riffic costume for his trouble. It suffers from being both entirely too generic (especially relative to his old one) and too busy, with bits of technological doodads scattered throughout (which, granted, are said to help control and refine his power). But of course, this is the iteration of the character who will receive an action figure.
Bishop pops up at the end of the issue, as he, Malcolm and Randall hunt down and execute a pair of criminals brought from the future by Fitzroy last issue. Bishop declares they must do the same to everyone Fitzroy brought back, and that'll pretty much be their story arc between now and when Bishop joins the team.
We also get a decent look at Iceman's new costume (when he's not iced up), which is not quite as striking as some of Lee's other designs, but that doesn't really matter, since he's usually iced up anyways.
This issue suggests the possibility that Emma Frost transferred her mind into another body at the same time Jean moved hers into Emma's, but nothing really comes of this idea (Emma's eventual awakening does coincide with her taking over Iceman's body, but that's a result of specific set of circumstances at the time she awakens. Though it does make his reaction to the idea this issue kind of funny in retrospect).
A Work in Progress
The three armored figures the X-Men fight are described as having alien minds, yet are revealed to be human. Could be something to do with their armor disrupting Jean's telepathy, or just a case of Byrne scripting as he goes and not realizing initially that the foes were armored humans and not aliens.
In subtle bit of scripting, when the X-Men disappear into the void, Forge asks after "Storm and the others" - a nice reminder of his connection to Storm.
The otherdimensional armored warriors are maybe the most Portacio thing ever.
It's in the Mail
A response to a letter in this issue promises Jubilee will be showing up in the series soon; in fact, she won't appear in Uncanny until #288, and won't play a prominent role in a story in this series until "X-Cutioner's Song" (but she does return over in X-Men this month, in issue #4).
Though it's only the third issue and second story since the big relaunch, this issue kicks off what is the nadir of the brief Portacio portion of the Blue/Gold era. But since the worst material of the storyline unfolds over the next two issues while this one is mostly setup, I'll save those criticisms for future posts. For now, I'll just point out that disappointing fact that this issue mostly involves the X-Men fighting mysterious armored foes, just two issues after fighting the armored Fitzroy and one issue after fighting the mysterious Bishop, which is a sad bit of repetition this early in the run. The other notable happening is the questionable redesign of Sunfire (questionable as to whether it was needed; the redesign is unquestionably not good), though it is nice to see in Sunfire an acknowledgement of the series' history at a time when so much old stuff is being swept aside in favor of shiny new things. That aside, even without knowing what this story is leading into, it's hard to get too excited about what's happening in this issue, since so much of what's happening is intentionally left a mystery. So all that's left is generic fights with generic armored opponents, and we've been getting an awful lot of that lately.
Tomorrow. the new Brotherhood makes their move in X-Force #6. Friday, Strong Guy takes on Slab in X-Factor #74. Next week, Wolverine gets a new (old) costume in X-Men #4.