X-Men # 66 - 69, UXM # 346 - 347
*I wasn't sure how to do this one. I decided to put Iceman as the only X-Man (I guess he's back) and then other 3 are allies. I have a feeling some of them will stick around as X-Men, but for now I'm leaving them in the allies section.
UXM # 346 - 347 : Spider-Man and Marrow
Writer - Scott Lobdell
Pencils - Joe Madueira with Rodney Ramos
Most of the stories in this arc are tales from the "Not X-Men," none moreso than UXM # 346 which features Spider-Man.
J Jonah Jameson, still on to Bastion, wants to report the truth, that the X-Men did not attack OZT. Bastion actually shows up and goads Jameson with a hot story, the secret identities of the X-Men, but he refuses and continues with his plans to write a story on Bastion.
Meanwhile, Marrow and Callisto are attacking Guyrich, but Spider-Man protects him. Surprisingly, Guyrich's detail transforms into Prime Sentinels and proceed to attack. The Sentinels decide to just go ahead and kill everyone, humans included, to keep their cover intact. Callisto takes a seemingly fatal blow (although we've seen this before) protecting Spider-Man and Marrow.
I'm only covering one scene from UXM # 347, and it's when a hurt Callisto implores Marrow to find the X-Men and help them, while also making her promise not to hurt any innocents.
X-Men # 66 - 69: New Friends to Play With
Writer - Scott Lobdell (Steve Seagel Script on 68)
Pencils - Carlos Pacheco (66 - 67, 69), Pascual Ferry (68)
Dr. Cecilia Reyes is treating a man with a fatal wound until he transforms into a Sentinel and begins attacking her. She is a mutant too and activates a shield power.
All hope looks lost until...
Iceman shows up, saving Dr. Reyes.
While Iceman and Reyes are trying to escape incognito, Iceman kisses her as a diversion, and then says:
“ What, you thought all mutants live in one big closet somewhere.”
Iceman kisses a girl, then talks about living in a closet. So...it's official, Lobdell knew he was gay at this point.
Iceman and Reyes go to Warren's apartment for help. He's not there, but someone named Angie Quail is who turns out to be...you guessed it...another Prime Sentinel. Charlotte Jones shows up at the last minute to kill Angie, but then turns them over to Bastion because her son was kidnapped.
Marrow meets up with Iceman and Reyes, who are all together in a police precinct, which is being slowly swarmed by Sentinels. Marrow manages to convince the convicts to stay in jail while Iceman uses an ice funnel to save the good cops.
We learn that Reyes' shield still hurts her when she uses it. Charlotte Jones ends up taking a bullet for Iceman out of guilt while Marrow backs them up. Unfortunately, the Sentinels catch up with them outside of the police precinct.
In a quick interim, we see that Bastion has Professor X again, and will serve to talk to him as narration throughout the event. Charlie calls out Bastion for being being human and secretly wanting to lose. I expected this to be a Thanos thing where he delivers the X-Men with the key to defeating him. In my head I started thinking about him seeing Jubilee being a good person and is starting to question himself. But no, this doesn't go anywhere and in 5 minutes he's ok with trying to kill Jubilee. But that, my friends, is another story.
Sochenet Bat-Seraph (Sabra), a Jewish mutant and spy, is attacked by sentinels for info she stole. (Info about the Mutant Underground).
Robert Kelly and Peter Guyrich are arguing about whether to continue supporting Bastion and OZT. Kelly says that he needs to make a big decision and we later learn that he decided that even though he doesn't like mutants, genocide isn't something he can get on board with.
Sabra shows up and joins Iceman, Reyes, and Marrow.
Sabra leads them to Bastion, which is also where Charlotte Jones' son is being held. We get a big Bastion monologue which I was expecting to answer things and...it didn't. Something about him officially not being human (which wasn't a surprise at this point) and his mom being Rose Gilberti. Huh? Is this supposed to mean something to me? Is this like X-Cutioner's song when we got to the end and still didn't know if Stryfe was Scott's son. Is Bastion going to be a recurring villain!? I don't know the answers to these questions.
Iceman and Bastion get in a final battle, where iceman uses an ice decoy (snowman?) to trick him.
Anywho, just as all hope looks lost, SHIELD shows up and saves the day. Robert Kelly convinced the government to stop supporting OZT and now SHIELD is backing the mutants up by shutting Bastion down.
OZT is ova.
This is essential the end of Operation: Zero Tolerance. However, I was assuming that all of Bastion's secrets would be revealed and he would be dead. Or at least dead-ish. I'm really not sure what comes next here. Will Bastion continue to linger and pop up regularly like Sinister, Magneto, and Apocalypse? Is there a separate story coming up that puts a conclusion to this? Yea, I'm not sure. I liked this event, but it really seemed like the type where it would better with a finite ending.
I'm conflicted about introducing new team members. On one hand, things have felt a bit stale lately. What better way to spice things up, than to introduce new characters to challenge the status quo. Also, If you've been reading from the beginning, you know that I actually tried to get into the Krokoa stuff but there were SOO many characters who I had never met that I realized I needed to go back to the beginning. And for the record, I'm getting more and more eager to get to present day. It will probably be at least another year, maybe two depending on what I skip or not. Deadpool Solo comic?
On the other hand, I was JUST talking about how I've enjoyed the last few arcs lately because there were less total characters. We had sidelined Iceman, Archangel, and Psylocke and focusing on the rest. But...now those 3 seem like they might be coming back and we're adding more. This is going to wreak havoc on my Roster graphics.
Also, there's this...
I find this stuff fascinating and it's just so crazy how much this political stuff mirrors today. But here we have it, the mainstream news (sans Trish Tilby) propping up the mutant threat and supporting OZT.
Pretty straight forward from a creative perspective, although I noticed that Steave Seagel wrote the scripts for a few here and will be the sole writer for X-Men # 70. Is he taking over for Lobdell on the Adjectiveless X-Men series?
I really like Carlos Pacheco's art!
In an interview with Scott Lobdell on the "True Stories Based on Fiction" podcast, Scott said:
“It was a gift to Joe to let him do an issue of Spider-Man. But to me, it was the first issue of the X-Men where the X-Men didn’t appear, but their presence was known because the issue was about how everyone else viewed them.”
There was this pretty cool splash page with Iceman reflecting on not being a follower anymore.
Marrow and Reyes
Fun antagonistic relationship between Marrow and Reyes
I'm not entirely sure what is happening here. Are they...going to make Marrow one of the members of the X-Men now. Are they going to do to her what they did with Rogue? I wonder what made them make this decision? I sincerely doubt she was a "fan favorite."
The only reason I recognize her name was from the New Mutants movie. I don't know where I read it, but I swear I read that she was never a member of the X-Men, however that certainly looks where this is heading. Regardless, strong first impression here from my perspective.
I've definitely never heard of Sabra before, although they are trying to make her seem like a big deal. Actually, I think they are trying way too hard to make her seem tough. Regardless, she seems ok. I get the feeling she will be around for a few issues but won't become an X-Man. Let's see!