So here’s the problem with going to an every-other-week publishing schedule: Artists can’t keep up. The change from Marc Silvestri to Rick Leonardi (and back again) makes it hard to feel the continuity, and the fact that Dan Green inks Silvestri in issue #251 and then Steve Leialoha inks him on #253 is even more jarring. Green has a light touch (think of how much John Romita Jr.’s X-Men work looked like clear Romita art) where Leialoha inks as heavy as Klaus Janson, leaving a clear mark on everything he does. Both are good, but it’s like there are three different artists on a three-issue story.
The other problem is that, like Stephen King, Chris Claremont over-writes and needs an editor, but when you’re cranking out over 75 pages a month, the editor’s main job is to keep the trains running—so Claremont is allowed to be overindulgent from here on out. The quality of the book suffers for it. But then, the quality of every Marvel books starts to suffer in the 1990s.
Anyway, storywise the Reavers finally capture Wolverine and crucify him on an X (instead of a T) scaffold. Then, they invade the X-Men’s Australia base to track down Jubilee, who escaped from their clutches by stowing away through a Gateway portal and has been hiding (without the X-Men knowing she’s there) ever since.
The rest of the team is in The Savage Land tracking down Polaris (see the last arc), so much of this story is Wolverine hallucinating and “flashing back” to show how the Reavers beat him, as well as Jubilee sneaking around through air vents trying to stay alive and also trying to figure out how to free Wolverine.
Eventually, she helps Wolverine, and then the two of them have to hide while Logan waits for his healing factor to kick in and make him strong enough to get revenge on the Reavers—who are going through the base room-by-room and breaking stuff.
Donald Pierce is leading the Reavers. He used to be Hellfire Club’s White Bishop, but was kicked out of the club (like everyone eventually is), and took his enhanced mutant guards with him to form The Reavers.
In this arc, while ransacking the Australia Base, Donald Pierce destroys the Seige Perilous gem that had magically made the X-Men unable to be “seen” or detected by cameras, etc. So the age of the undercover Australia team seems to be drawing to a close.
Eventually, we get Wolverine doing what he does best and Jubilee helps him.
The siege-of-the-base part of this story kind of ends there, and I would have put issues #251 and 252 in their own post but in #253 we see Wolverine and Jubilee running away from Lady Deathstrike, and she lets them escape, so technically that’s really where this story ends.
Throughout issue #253, we see the Reavers are still hunting him. At the end of #253, they decide to go to Muir Island to look for him.
Meanwhile, in #253, we get back to updates on the entire X-team, so there’s a lot of jumping around. Storm isn’t dead. Because of what Nanny did to the X-Men in the last arc, she’s a kid again and she’s fixing levees during a Mississippi flood. And she’s being chased around by a guy who will later be revealed as Shadow King.
There’s a check-in with Magneto, who is undercover as a member of the Hellfire Club (which happened in New Mutants), and Moira MacTaggert and Calisto, who is still Moira’s bodyguard (see the stories in Excalibur). So the awful interconnectedness of the 1990s is starting now. Banshee is seen with Moira as well.
Forge psychically (why??) knows Storm is alive and goes looking for her.
The X-Men return to Australia, but without Polaris who stayed behind in The Savage Land, and we see Polaris taking a ride on a ship. I’m not clear on why she didn’t return with the X-Men. Anyway, Banshee goes looking for her.
Nightcrawler’s ex-girlfriend, Amanda Sefton, shows up at Excalibur’s lighthouse looking for him. But the entire Excalibur team are in other dimensions going through an awful, extended storyline.
So basically, everyone is looking for everyone else.
And not only are they looking, but they all end up on Muir Island forming the new X-Men (see the cover). Can you name them?
That’s Banshee with the wings. The bald guy is Sunder of the Morlocks. Mowhawk-y dude is Legion, Charles Xavier’s son and the star of the best comic book TV show of all time. The redhead is magician and Nightcrawler’s ex, Amanda Sefton. Forge has the metal leg. Moira has the gun, and Polaris has green hair.
The Reavers arrive, and they all fight. Then Freedom Force arrives to pitch in, leading with a Blob bomb.
That scene alone makes these issues great.
Lots of fighting stuff.
Lots of characters to cover, and most get at least a few panels of facetime.
Destiny dies in the battle—and Mystique blames Forge for not protecting her.
A bunch of the Reavers also die in the battle, and Legion proves himself.
But I confess to not understanding exactly what Legion can do, so I’m not clear on how he does it, and nobody really cares about any of the Reavers except Lady Deathstrike so their deaths are kinds of “so what.” Except that it’s cool to see Forge build a big gun and blow them away…
The arc ends with a preview of this book’s Acts of Vengeance tie in, which involves The Hand. They’ve managed to recruit Psylocke via a Hand-adjacent mercenary named Matsuo Tsurayaba.
The cover to #251 is iconic, and got the tribute treatment.