In a Nutshell
Havok & Polaris go on a date while Wolfsbane arrives on Muir Island.
Plot: Scott Lobdell
Script: J.M. DeMatteis
Penciler: Paul Ryan
Inker: Al Milgrom
Letterer: Janice Chiang
Colorist: Glynis Oliver
Editor: Kelly Corvese
Group Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco
Lorna and a distracted Alex are on a dinner date, but their presence offends a nearby diner. Meanwhile, Guido accompanies Rahne to Muir Island, and Rahne tells Guido she knows he's more sensitive than he lets on. At X-Factor headquarters, a sculpting Quicksilver is interrupted by one of Madrox' dupes, hoping to escape Madrox' morose mood. Back at the restaurant, Lorna confronts the bigoted customer, much to the pleasure of a figure watching from the shadows, leading to a brawl in the restaurant among the customers. On Muir Island, Rahne fully reverts to her human form, becoming a mindless mutate, and is carried away by the scientists there. At the Pentagon, Forge deals with the situation caused by Lorna, then returns to his briefing with Val. Across town, Lorna is released from jail, and gives a brief statement condemning bigotry and declaring that mutants are a part of the world, and everyone had better get used to it. She is watched once again from the shadows by Random, who laments having to kill her.
Firsts and Other Notables
Random returns, and is revealed to have been hired by someone to kill Polaris, setting up next issue's main plotline. He also makes an offhand comment about being in love with her; his unrequited love for her will be something of a thing moving forward.
Forge tells Val that he has a feeling things are about to get much worse for mutants; while he's not wrong, this seems to be more an attempt to build a general aura of suspense and foreboding than an attempt to foreshadow a specific upcoming plotline.
This issue is set after Illyana's funeral and thus after Uncanny X-Men #304.
A Work in Progress
As Alex spends his dinner date angsting about Rahne, Lorna jokes that she didn't realize she was on a date with his brother.
Alex & Lorna are recognized in public, and Lorna notes that they are amongst the most famous mutants as a result of being a publically-operating mutant team.
X-Factor's jet apparently comes equipped with a smaller, portable Danger Room.
Quicksilver has taken up sculpting, a hobby recommended to him by Doc Samson as a way to force himself to slow down.
Madrox is seen to be even more withdrawn and depressed.
The Grim 'n' Gritty 90s
A reporter at Polaris' press conference mentions Senator Dole.
Quicksilver laments that he seems to torpedo any effort to reconcile with his wife.
The Havok/Polaris plot in this issue centers around the pair confronting a bigot at the restaurant where they're dining.
This leads to everyone in the restaurant weighing in, with one patron calling another a racist when he speaks out against mutants.
Which in turn leads to a full blown brawl.
In the wake of that, Polaris gives a speech speaking out against bigotry and essentially giving a mutant version of "we're here, we're queer, deal with it".
Lobdell & DeMatteis continue their more measured, character-driven approach with another issue featuring nary a fight scene (outside of a training sequence and a restaurant brawl). The central plot, if there is one, involves Havok & Polaris going on a date and confronting bigotry, and everyone else, from Wolfsbane & Strong Guy to Quicksilver & Morose Madrox, spends the issue doing some form of soul-searching and self-examination. Again, this doesn't feel entirely out of place for this iteration of the series, even after two consecutive "quiet" issues: the series was always less concerned with big action spectacle and more with characterization under Peter David. But while DeMatteis has a penchant for the psychological (which is on full display here), David leaned more towards comedy. As a result, what was once one of the more humorous (or least smirk-worthy) of the X-books has become increasingly grim. Granted, some of that is circumstances of plot moreso than change of writer, as the angsty grimness that has long-defined the X-Men is spreading throughout the franchise via "Fatal Attractions" and ancillary events (it's understandable if X-Factor is less quippy than usual in the face of a young girl's death at the hands of an uncurable mounting plague targeting their species), but it nevertheless puts the series at this point in stark contrast to the earlier Peter David days, even while it remains much more character focused than its companion series.
Tomorrow, Wolverine fights the Sentinels in Wolverine #73. Next week, X-Men #24 and X-Force #26.