By Eric Drumm
After getting their collective butts kicked by Vulcan and the Shi'ar, the X-Men (minus Havok, Polaris and Marvel Girl) returned to the Xavier Institute. When a banged-up Caliban came to them for aid in the sewers of NYC, home of the Morlocks, the team rushed into the depths. once again led by Storm. On a mission to save Morlock child Leech, they may be running out of time.
When Caliban came to the X-Men, he said that Leech had been taken by Masque and other Morlock rebels. Recently returning to the team after leaving to marry King T'Challa, the Black Panther, Storm assumed leadership and brought them down into the sewers to get Caliban back. As T'Challa's wife, she became queen of Wakanda and recently had a stint filling in for Sue Richards in the Fantastic Four. With that kind of prestige and years of X-Men field experience, Storm is more cut out to be a leader than ever before.
"Storm has always been underestimated as a leader (both by others and by herself)," says UNCANNY editor Nick Lowe. "She's one of the strongest characters in the Marvel U. and I'm glad she's back in UNCANNY X-MEN. But, yeah, I think her current run on FF has been a good addition to her resume. But the wedding probably added more. I know people who've planned weddings. That's serious stuff."
Storm isn't the only new addition to the X-Men lineup. While trying to take down Vulcan in space, Starjammer Hepzibah found herself without a home when her main squeeze Corsair fell in battle. Hitching a ride with the X-Men back to Earth, Hep is taking her new life as an X-Man in stride, even taking a liking to Warpath. Nick Lowe, for one, is glad to see her.
"She's a hot cat woman," Lowe explains. "Some people think she's a hot skunk woman. I say, 'No, she's a cat woman.' I'm glad she is on the team, because we were very short on animal people on the team. Now Nightcrawler isn't the hairiest member."
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While he may have had to give away his Hairiest Team Member trophy, Nightcrawler has much bigger problems on his hands. Nightcrawler has joined Xavier on his manic quest to seek out a missing Magneto. Believing him to be potentially re-powered and monumentally dangerous, Xavier wants to get to him before anyone else can put evil ideas in his head. Telling O*N*E to shove it and abusing his telepathic powers, Xavier once again walks a thin line.
"He's ALWAYS playing with fire," says Lowe. "Xavier is a loose cannon! But I understand where he's coming from. If I were him, I'd want to find Magneto, too. He's a big deal and needs to be accounted for."
Unfortunately for Charles, Masque and his crew are also looking for Magneto. However, their intentions for him aren't quite the same as Xavier's. They want to use him to put the final stamp on M-Day! Should that come to pass, the X-Men would have a lot more to worry about than their dwindling numbers.
"Masque is full of surprises, and none of them [are] the birthday surprise type," jokes Lowe. "They're all the, 'She's a man' type of surprises. So, a Masque/Magneto team-up frightens me to no end."
While trying to avert a terrible future, the team searching the sewers may have found a clue actually confirming it. Finding a mysterious message written on a wall, Storm says that whatever it is, it's pretty terrible. With prophecies up in the air, Nick Lowe says this might have a little something to do with the massive X-crossover, "Endangered Species."
"You'll notice that the scribbling ain't the only weird prophetic stuff going on in the X-Books," hints Lowe. "Check out the current arc [in] X-MEN for more on that. Somethin's comin'. It might have to do with the crossover. Maybe. Okay, it DOES have to do with the giant crossover."
With two teams after Masque for different reasons, things are sure to come to a head. The question is can the two teams figure out Masque's next move before it's too late? Having to work fast, both human and mutant lives are at stake. If they don't stop Masque, the darkest day for the X-Men may yet come to pass. Before heading into the Marvel office's Danger Room for his daily workout (yes, they have one in case you were wondering), Nick Lowe left us with a few parting words about what's next.
"Storm is going to face her worst fear. There is a traitor lurking. Warpath's future is ugly."
Gee, that doesn't sound too good.
Check out UNCANNY X-MEN #489 by Ed Brubaker and Salvador Larroca on sale August 1.
Check out our Endangered Species Visual Guide for more on the mega-crossover.