In a Nutshell
A power outage allows Sabretooth to escape
Writer: Scott Lobdell
Pencils: John Romita Jr.
Inkers: Dan Green/Al Vey
Letterer: Chris Eliopoulos
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco
As an impatient Jubilee waits for Beast to finish checking the mansion's power core before taking her to a midnight Rocky Horror Picture Show viewing, Iceman checks on the comatose White Queen and Storm says goodbye to Bishop on her way to meet Gambit and an old friend in the city. Just then, the mansion suddenly loses power, and a surge blasts Iceman & the White Queen, knocking him out. With the power out, Sabretooth escapes from his cell and attacks Jubilee, who fends him off until Bishop arrives and blasts him through a wall. As Beast frantically works to restore power before the core explodes, Bishop chases Sabretooth into the tunnels beneath the mansion. With Jubilee's help, he manages to subdue Sabretooth without killing him, as Beast averts disaster and gets the power back on, but Iceman is still unconscious. In the city, Storm meets her friend, Yukio, who wanted to warn her about a threat against the X-Men. However, the threat has already found them, as members of the Phalanx appear before them.
Firsts and Other Notables
This marks the final issue of John Romita Jr.'s relatively short second run on the series (which began with issue #300 but also included two fill-in/guest artists in #303 and #305, with issue #304 a jam issue featuring multiple artists in addition to JRjr). He left the series to work on the Punisher/Batman Marvel/DC crossover series, and the story goes that his intention was to simply take a break from Uncanny to work on that project, then return to the X-Men. But while he was gone, one of the artists tapped to fill in for him, Joe Madureira, proved to be such a hit with readers in his two issues that Bob Harras simply gave the book to him and told Romita he would no longer be needed when he was done with the intercompany crossover.
This issue also kicks off the story which begins in earnest next issue, which features the return of the Phalanx and their first direct attack on the X-Men (following Hodge's attack on Archangel & Jean Grey in issue #306), which in turn will lead to this year's summer crossover, "The Phalanx Covenant".
Yukio, Wolverine's former lover/friend and Storm's former lover(?) and punk inspiration, drops by this issue, meeting Storm in New York City in order to warn her about the Phalanx. She was last seen in Wolverine #60, and will guest star in the next two issues (where more will be revealed as to how she even knows about the Phalanx).
Iceman is caught by the power surge while attending to Emma Frost; their interaction here will lead to Emma regaining consciousness (further setting the stage for her role in Generation X) and possessing Iceman's body for a short time, which will in turn lead to a crisis of confidence in Iceman as he once again realizes he's not using his powers to their full potential.
A Work in Progress
The power surge which knocks out the mansion's power in this issue is an after effect of Magneto's EMP pulse from X-Men #25, a nice nod to recent continuity.
Jubilee is continuing to grapple with Wolverine's absence.
It's been awhile since Bishop mentioned the X-traitor, but as he hunts down the escaped Sabretooth in this issue, he ponders if Sarebtooth is that traitor (spoiler alert, he's not, and it's kind of silly to even think so, since no one really trusts Sabretooth, and Jean explicitly said "never should have trusted" in the recording from issue #287).
Waiting to meet Yukio, Storm reflects on her influence and Storm's punk phase.
In what is a very Claremontian use of his power, Bishop describes a time he used his power to absorb the small amount of energy released by the individual melting of snowflakes during a blizzard to recharge himself.
Iceman laments his love life and the fact that he drove Opal away.
Videos of the animated series appear for sale in this issue, though they are still limited to just one episode apiece.
An example of how Jim Lee's art remained long after he left the book (and Marvel), an ad for Hi-C in this issue is laden with his art. It also features promotional pogs, which,
A. Using Jim Lee art to hock X-Men pogs might be the most 90s thing ever.
B. I had all of those pogs.
Through no fault of its own, this issue has always felt overshadowed by the issues immediately surrounding it. Like it's predecessors, this is a mostly self-contained story with ties to the larger narrative (in this series and elsewhere), but the previous three issues had the benefit of being tied in to the larger "wedding of Cyclops & Jean Grey" event. Prior to that, the series featured a couple of standalone issues (in terms of connecting to the issues of this series immediately before and after) that were part of larger crossovers (#307 and #304), and one that stands as a memorable depiction of grief and the loss of a beloved character (#303). Immediately following this issue are a pair which introduce the artist who will become the next dominant artistic visionary of the X-books and help usher in an entirely new style to superhero comics overall. Compared to all that, this issue pales somewhat, especially since it's mostly a transition issue, offering this series' reaction to the presence of Sabretooth in the mansion (which the sister X-Men title already did), and setup the next story (which is, in turn, setting up the next big crossover event), which doesn't really begin in earnest until next issue.
So its hard not to read this and get a "so what?" feeling in the face of the bigger things happening in the issues around it, which is a shame, because stepping back from that, this is a really fun little story. It's a great spotlight for Bishop, who's gotten a bit lost in the shuffle as the X-traitor subplot has been supplanted by the Legacy Virus, and who continues to shine in the role of chief of security at Xavier's school, as well as Jubilee, whom Lobdell continues to write well and is presented here consistently with her portrayal in the other "dealing with Sabretooth" story. And John Romita Jr., in what turns out to be his final issue of the series, knocks it out of the park once again, turning in some of his strongest art yet on his way out the door. It's a shame his too-short run is already over, just as it's a shame this issue is so overshadowed by the narratively-significant issues surrounding it on all sides.
Tomorrow, X-Factor mourns Madrox in X-Factor #101. Friday, Wolverine fights Cyber some more in Wolverine #81. Next week, X-Men #31.