In a Nutshell
Various outside factions arrive in Genosha amidst the civil war triggered by Cortez.
Writer: Fabian Nicieza
Pencils: Andy Kubert
Inks: Matt Ryan
Letterer: Bill Oakley
Colorist: Joe Rosas
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco
En route to Genosha, Quicksilver is enraged to learn from his broadcast that Cortez has his daughter. Meanwhile, Colossus tends to the comatose Magneto before being dismissed by Exodus in order to counsel with Magneto. In New York, a contingent of Avengers are able to fight their way past SHIELD and head for Genosha, while in Genosha, Beast & Xavier are kidnapped from their UN escort by a group of bipartisan rebels. The kidnapping turns out to have been orchestrated by Xavier in order to allow him & Beast to operate more freely, but US Agent is secretly tracking them. Elsewhere, the X-Men arrive in the country, and are quickly confronted by Cortez and a group of mutates called the Unforgiven, while the Avengers arrive in Hammer Bay and help stop an attack on mutates by a group of human soldiers, all of whom are then obliterated by Exodus, who declares Magneto's greatest disciple will now follow in his footsteps and save the Genoshan mutates, even if it means the death of every human on the island.
Firsts and Other Notables
This issue is the first appearance of Rene Majcomb, a biogeneticist and former associate of Xavier's who is now leading a bipartisan rebel force of humans and mutants in Genosha. She is one of those minor recurring characters, like Philip Moreau & Jenny Ransome, who will pop up whenever a story deals with Genosha in the future. And though she isn't explicitly cited as a member of the Mutant Underground, she fits in with the general idea being developed of late that Xavier has a bunch of heretofore unmentioned agents working on behalf of mutantkind around the world.
It's worth noting that only Beast & Xavier are "captured" by the rebels in this issue; US Agent is shown to be following them, and he'll have caught up by the next chapter. But over the course of the story, both Phillip Moreau & Jenny Ransome, and then Gyrich, will appear alongside Xavier & Beast without explanation.
This issue also introduces the Unforgiven, a specific group of mutates serving Cortez. Only two of the three get named (in the next chapter), and none of them have yet to appear outside this story. The promotional Marvel Age series described this group as being mutants cast out of Avalon by Magneto, but that never gets brought up in the story (promotional info like that not making it into/lining up with the actual published stories will become something of a repeat phenomenon over the next few years, culminating most egregiously with the version of "Onslaught" published and the one detailed in the Road to Onslaught oneshot).
Fighting their way free of SHIELD, this issue seems the formation of the Avengers contingent heading to Genosha, comprised of Crystal & Scarlet Witch (Luna's mother & aunt), Captain America, Black Knight, Sersi and War Machine, with Sersei essentially joining because she's the third side of a love triangle with Black Knight & Crystal at this point.
A Work in Progress
The X-Men's Blackbird jet is erroneously described as an "SR-70" instead of "SR-71".
In this issue, it's said that Cortez kidnapped Luna in order to use her as a human shield, to prevent Magneto from striking him directly.
The X-Men point out that this show's Cortez doesn't know about Magneto's current condition, which Gambit declares could be ace up the X-Men's sleeve (also, props to Gambit for another great card-related pun).
By the end of the issue, however, Cortez at least learns that Magneto is incapacitated (technically, this Cortez is actually a shapeshifter, but one with a psychic link to Cortez, so the point still stands).
Aboard Avalon, Colossus wonders if the situation in Genosha would be better if everyone knew about Magneto's condition.
Genosha is described once again as having been a "green and pleasant" land.
Rogue notes Wolverine's absence as the team arrives in Genosha, recalling their adventure together in the first Genosha story.
The second part of "Bloodties", this issue is mostly more setup, getting the various groups of characters (the Avengers contigent, the X-Men, Xavier/Beast/US Agent, and Exodus) to Genosha and into position for the rest of the story, and as a result, the story overall continues to hum along fine, without too many narrative problems (of course, spending two chapters of a five issue story could be problematic; on the other hand, there's not all that much plot here, as we'll see). But putting aside "Bloodties" for the moment, its worth pointing out that this the first issue of this series since Wolverine lost his adamantium (and Magneto his mind).
Now, that seems pretty obvious to anyone looking at the issue numbers who knows that "26" usually follows "25". Yet the events of that issue already feel like they happened several issues ago (and not just because of my delayed posting schedule). At the very least, with the immediate ramifications of issue #25 handled in Wolverine #75 followed by the pivot to "Bloodties" in Avengers #368, two issues worth of narrative incidents featuring these characters occur between last issue and this one, and that's even before considering any of the other series, or annuals, etc. (if one was to read the narrative chronologically, including things like the final chapter of "Fatal Attractions", also on sale the same month as this issue, before "Bloodties", the gap would be even bigger). So when Rogue at one point in this issue comments on Wolverine's absence, it resonates, because it already feels like he's been gone awhile, even though this is the first issue of this series he hasn't appeared in.
Obviously, it's doubtful there were many people back in 1993 who were only reading X-Men, who weren't at least casually picking up Uncanny as well, or Wolverine, or grabbing the "Fatal Attractions" issues, etc. But regardless (and there probably were some people just reading this series of all the X-books), taking a step back to view the issues of this series just as issues of one self-contained title, the narrative whiplash between issues is huge, as several issues-worth of story passes between them. It's a reminder of just how deep - and accepted - the crossover and franchise mentally was in 1993 that nobody at Marvel blinked at cramming so much story between two issues of one series.
Tomorrow, X-Force battles the new MLF in X-Force #29. Friday, "Fatal Attractions" concludes in Excalibur #71. Next week, X-Men Unlimited #3.