X-MEN: THE SHATTERING (ASTONISHING X-MEN #1-3, GAMBIT #8-9, UNCANNY X-MEN #372-375, X-MEN #92-95) (1999)

“The Shattering” was (another) X-Men story that would “change everything” and lead to team reorganizations. But when you’ve got a cast of over 75 regular heroes, moving some from team to team isn’t a big deal.

The event took place across the main two team titles, several of the x-related titles, and a third, three-issue miniseries tying into it. The short version: A skrull infiltrates the team and Professor X knows it’s there but can’t isolate it, so he breaks the team up to flush out the shape-shifter.

Longer version: The team’s members seem to be losing their skills, gradually but perceptibly. A group of mutated children called The Mannites emerge and Apocalypse is trying to kill them.

They’re cute and awful.

Professor X starts being disruptive and aggressive to try to weed out the skrull, which leads Gambit to quit the team (yay!) even though he’s just been reunited with his true love Rogue.

But don’t be too happy about Gambit leaving, because Bishop is coming back. Also, Gambit’s a central figure in all this mishmash because he’s trying to figure out what’s gotten into Xavier by investigating his team-mates.

Meanwhile, Sabretooth is fighting ninja-lite guys.

Sunfire also fights ninjas.

So, yeah, it’s an x-event, which means a lot is going on but most of it has little to do with the actual event.

Anyway, Professor X kicks all the mutants out and they spread around doing stuff in small groups. Like Colossus and Marrow hang out for a bit. And there are, of course, visits to alternate realities and Mother Askani and oh my God why? Why? The idea of a telepathy-proof skrull inside the team is like a mini-version of Secret Invasion and it’s cool. All this other crap is just noise.

In the end, there’s not just one skrull–there’s a bunch of them. The X-Men weren’t really losing their powers, they were skrulls with imperfect abilities to duplicate the X-Men. The “Twelve” prophecy (twelve heroes must be gathered to stop Apocalypse) we’ve heard about before in several books figures into this as well, and this story leads directly into that event.

The “Astonishing” team arises to fight off Death, one of Apocalpyse’s new Horsemen.

He’s the main villain in this three-issue series.

He is wicked powerful, and he has a surprise secret identity.

And protect those horrible Mannite kids.

Before the end, Death “kills” Logan.

Only it’s a skrull (duh).

As it turns out, he’s been a skrull for about six months now–because the real Wolverine is himself now Death.

And no, I’m not going back to re-tag those older appearances as skrulls.

And yes, it makes no sense: Why would Apocalypse, who is trying to gain power back on the down low, have his horseman Death kill the skrull who was helping keep the secret that Apocalypse had Wolverine in thrall?

Anyhow, Rogue seems to die too.

More stuff: Caliban is back to being a horseman (Pestilence) for Apocalypse. He helps capture Cable, who is one of the prophecized Twelve. Wolverine also gets enslaved by Cable.

And Apocalypse is still “coming” (he’s actually here).

On to the Twelve event.

I’m rating this a C+. As far as X-ideas go, I like several of the elements: Crazy Charles, skrull invasion, team breaking up and investigating itself. It loses some points for being jammed with other storylines and for sharing the weakness of all the X-books, which is having such a huge cast that you never really get close to anyone.

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