In a Nutshell
Bishop acclimates to the ways of the X-Men.
Plotters: Jim Lee & Whilce Portacio
Guest Penciler: Andy Kubert
Guest Inker: Bill Sienkiewicz
Coloring: Joe Rosas
Editor: Bob Harras
Chief: Tom DeFalco
As Colossus, Archangel & Iceman roughhouse with Cyclops & Beast, Bishop trains in the Danger Room under the supervision of Professor X. In the wake of the jarring sessions, Bishop asks Storm, under whose tutelage Xavier has placed him, to take him into the city, to acclimate him to life in this time. Later, Iceman picks up Opal for their night on the town, while Archangel listens to a message from Charlotte Jones before flying off naked into the night. That evening, a group of X-Men, including Bishop, arrive in the city. Bishop shortly spots Styglut, the last of the criminals Fitzroy released, and attacks him. The two fight, and eventually, Bishop kills Styglut, avenging Malcolm & Randall's deaths. But Storm chides him for ignoring bystanders, and stresses that while killing may be his way, it is not the X-Men's way. Returning to the mansion, Bishop has a more successful session in the Danger Room, then presents his command insignia to Storm, affirming that she is the leader, not him, and that he still has much to learn.
Firsts and Other Notables
This issue introduces the "Psylocke Crush" subplot, a minor subplot in which Cyclops' finds himself awkwardly attracted to Psylocke, and Psylocke seems to take some measure of pleasure in that fact. It mostly gets handled by Fabian Nicieza over in X-Men, and never really culminates in anything before quietly going away, which Nicieza says was his plan all along.
Iceman's girlfriend Opal, last seen in X-Factor #65, returns in this issue. She is once again shown receiving a mysterious letter before going out with Iceman, a setup for a plotline featuring her in the next two issues. Also, for some reason, she's now living in suburban New Jersey despite having a New York apartment in X-Factor.
The X-Factor supporting cast reunion continues (nice to see Lee & Portacio bringing back these Simonson Era characters) as Archangel listens to a message left by Charlotte Jones, after which he strips naked and flies off into the sky, part of the ongoing "Archangel struggles with his humanity" subplot. Of note, he is shown here to be capable of retracting the entirety of his wings into back, appearing entirely human (aside from the blue skin).
Andy Kubert, still keeping a foot in the X-office prior to his assignment as the regular penciler on X-Men, fills in for Portacio this issue. He's inked by former New Mutants artist Bill Sienkiewicz. It's not the best combination, as Sienkiewicz seems to bring out the scratchier side of Kubert's pencils (and I never really embraced Kubert's art until it started getting a little smoother later in his X-Men run). Some of the darker, moodier art here works, but more often than not, things are murky and hard to follow.
John Byrne receives scripting credit alongside Scott Lobdell; presumably he contributed some dialogue to some of the pages before getting booted off the assignment (the opening pages with the male X-Men mock fighting each other sounds like Byrne, but I could be wrong).
The Chronology Corner
The chronology between this issue and X-Men #8 is a little dicey - here, Bishop seems to be meeting Cyclops for the first time, but in X-Men #8, he's introduced to a bunch of X-Men (including Cyclops), some of which, like Forge, he's seen hanging out with in this issue without comment. So chronologers consider this issue to take place after X-Men #8, with Bishop's shaking of Cyclops' hand here a gesture of respect moreso than a first time greeting.
A Work in Progress
Iceman appears here de-iced wearing one of the blue-and-yellow team uniforms instead of his individual blue-and-white one - though certainly it's within reason to assume the X-Men occasionally don one of the old uniforms.
In an odd bit of dialogue, Iceman asks Cyclops if Psylocke is as gorgeous in person as she appears in training videos, despite the fact that they live in the mansion together and surely have crossed paths in person at this point (I can think of two specific instances in which they were seen on-page in the same room: Uncanny X-Men #273, and the briefing scene in X-Men #5). I can buy they maybe don't hang out or talk much, but he's seen her in person himself, at least.
Cyclops mentions that Xavier is waiting for a debrief regarding the Omega Red scenario from X-Men #4-7.
In the wake of his battle with Styglut, Bishop is sternly told the X-Men only take the lives of their enemies in extreme circumstances (Colossus is presumably thinking of Proteus), and the importance of protecting innocent bystanders (something Bishop never had to worry about in his time) is stressed.
A house ad for John Byrne's Namor series touts the character as Marvel's first mutant; I believe it was around this time (in the early 90s with onset of that series) that Marvel retroactively decided Namor was a mutant (in an attempt to tie him in with the sales superstar X-Men), a distinction that has stuck and which led to Namor having a semi-regular role in the X-books during the 00s.
Stan Lee's column discusses the upcoming X-Men animated series, though he says that James Cameron will be involved in the effort (and I don't believe that turns out to be true). He also pimps the live action X-Men and Spider-Man movies, which are still about ten years away from actually hitting theaters.
Of note in this month's Cool-o-Meter, new series Nomad is cool (it's really not), Aliens 3 & "Operation: Galactic Storm" are in the middle, and 19-part crossovers (ie "Operation: Galactic Storm") are uncool.
The Bishop Integration Tour continues, picking up where last issue left off by showing Bishop begin the process of acclimating himself to being one of the X-Men. His termination of Styglut, the last remaining Fitzroy escapee (aside from Fitzroy, and Bantam - and yes, Mountjoy -) makes for an effective device to that end: it closes out his responsibilities as one of the XSE as he becomes an X-Man, while also serving as an object lesson for the X-Men's "no wanton killing" and "watch out for bystanders" policies. In fact, for as much as this era of comics (rightly) gets a lot of flak for shoving kewl new characters down readers' throats, Bishop's integration into the team has been handled with a surprising level of care. We already know more about him, for example, then we do Cable, who's been around far longer, and Lee & Portacio seem much more interested in making readers care about Bishop as a character, as much for his big guns and take-no-prisoners attitude.
How well they succeed in that regard is, of course, a matter of opinion, and the relatively deft hand they're playing at this point will grow increasingly less deft after they shortly leave the books and Bishop mostly fades into the background, only to pop up with the occasional "in my time, things were like __!". But for now, they're handling the introduction of a new character and team member remarkably well, especially given the era in which they're working.
Tomorrow, we meet the Externals (...) in X-Force #10. Friday, the MLF strikes in X-Factor #78. Next week, Unstacking the Deck: Jim Lee X-Men cards edition!