In a Nutshell
Holocaust wakes up on Avalon.
Writer: Fabian Nicieza
Penciler: Paul Smith
Inker: Matt Ryan
Letterer: Richard Starkings & Comicraft
Colorist: Kevin Somers/Digital Chameleon
Editor: Bob Harras
Exodus toasts the arrival of the strange figure trapped in ice, believing it to be a sign of good tidings for the Acolytes. Some of the Acolytes have reservations, however, and when Milan stays behind to further analyze the being, he inadvertently comes into contact with it and is killed when it drains his life force. On Earth, Storm notifies Professor X of the nightclub massacre, while Beast tends to the now-comatose Juggernaut. In Florida, Iceman stops Rogue from committing a robbery. Back on Avalon, Rusty & Skids are discussing whether they made the right choice joining the Acolyteswhen Scanner appears and tells Rusty Exodus wants him to check on Milan. When he does, he too is killed, and his energy is enough to cause the figure - Holocaust - to break free of the ice. When Exodus confronts him, Holocaust - recognizing Exodus as one of the X-Men from his world and not realizing he's in a different reality - attacks, and their subsequent fight severely damages Avalon. Voght teleports away, seeking help, and returns with Cyclops & Phoenix, who are greeted by the raging Holocaust/Exodus fight and Colossus, cradling the comatose Magneto, declaring that in a manner of minutes, the station will be destroyed and everyone aboard killed.
Firsts and Other Notables
This issue kicks off a three part story that will see Holocaust & Exodus fight one another until Avalon is destroyed, bringing to an end the latest round of "Magneto has an orbital base" status quo and taking the Acolytes as a whole off the board for awhile.
Paul Smith fills in on this issue and the next, returning to the X-Men for the first time since Uncanny X-Men #175. His work seems a little off, relative to the earlier stuff, but is still very, very nice and much welcome.
Also returning this issue is Rusty & Skids, the former X-Factor wards turned New Mutants turned brainwashed members of the Mutant Liberation Front turned Acolytes, with the pair discussing whether they made the right decision joining the Acolytes, especially since Exodus is such a nutter.
Unfortunately for him, this is also the last appearance of Rusty, as he is killed by Holocaust. Somewhat surprisingly, his death has actually stuck.
Milan, the Acolyte with an arrow tattooed on his face and the 90s-riffic power to convert thoughts to video images, also dies this issue at the hands of Holocaust.
This issue reveals that, following his fight with Wolverine in Wolverine #90, Sabretooth is still alive, but comatose, and being monitored at the mansion along with Gambit and, now, Juggernaut.
It appears as though Exodus' head failed to get colored in on the cover (the Marvel Unlimited version corrects this).
When Milan comes into contact with Holocaust, he experiences flashes of "Age of Apocalypse", a favorite trick of books this month.
Storm tells Xavier about the human nightclub massacre from Uncanny #322.
The X-Men have seemingly removed Juggernaut’s helmet, glove thingees and bootS, which seems like something they shouldn’t be able to do.
Iceman (looking a lot like his AoA counterpart) stops Rogue (dressed like Gambit, her mind swirling with his memories) from stealing a (presumably antique and expensive) helmet.
Holocaust appears without his armor for the first time, looking something like he did in Stryfe’s Strike Files.
Exodus is stunned that Holocaust knows his name, saying no one living should.
Scott & Jean are returning from visiting Jean’s parents in Uncanny #322 when Voght teleports they to Avalon.
Kicking off the book's return from "Age of Apocalypse" with an issue almost entirely dedicated to the Acolytes is somewhat jarring especially since the X-Men proper have been absent for four months. But the fact that both X-Men titles are essentially sharing the same cast of characters and many of the same plotlines helps mitigate it somewhat, with this issue's X-Men check-ins continuing directly from the events of Uncanny (pity anyone not reading both, of course). And the focus on the Acolytes is effective, helping build the tension on Avalon, as Exodus' (nonsensical) hubris primes the Acolytes (and Avalon) for a fall, just as Cyclops & Phoenix get sucked into things. It's a fun return for the series, even if it is a little removed from the X-Men itself, helped along by some always-appreciated art from Paul Smith.
Tomorrow, X-Force #44. Friday, Wolverine #91. Next week, Generation X #5!
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