We have this storyline's villain front and center: The Shadow King.
His modus operandi dovetails perfectly with that of Psycho-Man.
The Shadow King points to human hate as his power source but he does have a thorn on his side.
I've never heard of W.H.O. before this comic.
I like them immediately because 'Weird Happenings Organization' has a wacky twist to it. Evidently this organization is related to the X-Men offshoot group Excalibur. Anyway, there is an intruder on-base.
Whoever it is is wearing Shi'ar armor.
This intruder is attempting to "steal" the X-Men's Blackbird.
We find Rogue, after her Savage Land adventures, facing a "situation" in Muir Isle.
Some kind of gladiatorial acceptance right against X-Factor's Strong Guy. Moira MacTaggert has sanctioned it and other mutants are enjoying the show.
I'm a bit baffled.
The ending: Rogue takes out Strong Guy.
Oh, so this is the idea.
The Muir Isle Arena is the country-cousin of the urbane Danger Room.
The intruder reveals himself.
Xavier mentions other branches of the X-Men family: X-Factor and X-Calibur. He's rallying all the troops for a showdown with the Shadow King. Here's who he has so far.
While Rogue takes a bath, the Shadow King reveals why the mutants on Muir are getting a little bit more bloodthirsty than usual.
It looks like the X-Men will be going against the Muir Isle mutants. Rogue is definitely a heavy-hitter for the latter group.
As the X-Men attempt to infiltrate Muir Isle we get this interesting dialogue.
The eternal discussion between those who choose to see life as fun and those who take a more serious approach. I need more of Gambit's outlook myself.
On the ground, Banshee makes a nice discovery replete with references to Scottish culture.
Psylocke informs everybody that someone or something very powerful is being held in Muir.
The confrontation begins as Legion lashes out at Storm.
Since Storm has a psylink with Psylocke, Elizabeth also gets a dose of Legion's power. Lucky Legion.
I think this hurts more though. Banshee getting taken out by his own daughter, Siren.
It's Gambit vs Madrox with Madrox giving a nice capsule description of his power.
Wolverine vs. Rogue. Good match.
Amanda (a sorceress) confronts Jubilee in a beautifully done panel.
In a short aside. Professor X reacts to the past destruction of the X-Mansion.
It's more of a nostalgic reaction though, I read somewhere (I forgot where) that the Prof has a net worth of around two billion dollars. Also, it isn't the first time the Mansion was destroyed and rebuilt. It's like moving house. It's a chore but it's not a new chore.
What follows next is a meeting between two main adversaries.
And a grisly report of the situation in Muir
Well, things are off to a bad start.
The issue ends with Professor X being pitted against a mind-controlled Colossus.
I'm not too worried, it should be a simple matter for the Professor to wrest Peter's mind from the Shadow King. Or is it? They're not called cliffhangers for nothing.
On to X-Men 279.
We start with Colossus under the complete control of the Shadow King
Professor X comments on Colossus' mutant power.
Invulnerable means "cannot be damaged". Colossus is immensely tough but he's hardly invulnerable as the events in World War Hulk will testify.
As I said, Professor X can take care of this situation very easily.
We are suddenly reminded that it is not Colossus who is the enemy here. It is the Shadow King. As Xavier tries to focus on the mind of Stevie Hunter the Shadow King is able to take advantage of Xavier's divided focus (Colossus and Stevie) and break Xavier's hold on Colossus.
Stevie and the Professor have no choice but to cut and run.
Xavier and Stevie go to an underground bunker for shelter.
I'm not very hopeful about that door being able to withstand Colossus. I was right, that door might as well have been made of tissue paper.
Xavier activates the bunker's defenses.
The game plan right now is to stop Colossus by luring him to the Danger Room. That could work.
The Shadow King and the Professor are old foes. We get a flashback together with some sniping.
Colossus manages to bust out of the Danger Room.
The Professor decides to play his best card: to wrest Peter's mind away from the Shadow King's control.
Heretofore, Colossus has been living his life as artist Peter Nicholas not Piotr Rasputin. In order to free him, the Professor "unlocks" the Rasputin identity giving Peter (or rather Piotr) all his memories. It is an act that the Professor regrets very much. I get it. If you or I had a tough past that we somehow managed to permanently forget will you press the 'reset' button? I won't.
Looking in at the Shadow King, he too has his - quite glaring - weakpoints.
Some disturbing things as we look on the other X-Men.
Gambit hitting Jubilee? I did not know he was so crude.
I'm expecting Wolverine, Jubilee's protector, to break Gambit in half but Logan only does this.
Then Jubilee storms of to join the other side.
Then Wolvie and Gambit part ways in less than friendly terms.
Now, I'm even more confused - I expected a cohesive X-Men force what I get are three people who can't stand each other in quite a crucial time to boot. It's not like they're all relaxing in the X-Mansion.
Oh, here's the explanation for the weird behavior.
They're all trying to fight off the influence of the Shadow King in their heads.
Forge stalks Wolverine and manages to place a Forge-style doohickey on Logan's skull - supposedly blocking off the Shadow King's influence. Turn of the tide?
Rogue confronts Forge but Forge hasn't run out of toys.
A bit of a breather for the Professor, Stevie and Piotr.
I'm particularly touched by the Professor's 'I've been tired for a long time' statement. He jumped into this after such a hard ordeal in the previous adventure with the Shi-ar. Like you perhaps, I say that to myself too, specially when I'm forced to wake up in the morning for another necessary day of work.
The trio comes across a ghastly thing: a lynching.
Telling a black person in the U.S. to 'get back to Africa' is terrible enough. What makes it even worst is that the ancestors of some blacks were enslaved and forced to live in the U.S. - they were unwillingly taken out of Africa. Still worst is that those who are shouting 'get out' are immigrants themselves. You get out of America you sunofa-!
Professor X's anger is my anger.
Behind it all is the Shadow King.
As the issue ends we get an exciting look at things to come.
We rejoin the story in the pages of X-Factor 69.
We begin with mobs of people motivated by hate. X-Factor is called in to lend a hand.
Bobby's power makes for effective crowd control.
We get a sort of montage of the kind of hate language the crowd is using.
"Mutie scum". Check. "Gorilla lover". Okay. What the heck is "Taco boy"? 'Haters gonna eat' that's what it is.
Professor X makes his entrance.
Obviously as a 1920s mobster.
Back in Muir Isle, Forge has wrested both Rogue and Wolverine from the Shadow King's influence.
This is a good turn. Rogue and Wolverine are definitely X-Men heavy hitters.
Wolverine's analysis of the Shadow King is dead on.
In the previous storyline, Wolverine was able to detect the hidden Skrulls, now this. His heightened senses make him a walking lie detector and radar all in one.
The trio is attacked by Banshee.
But soon Mr. Cassidy is brought back to the land of the unenslaved.
Banshee has a revelation about the Shadow King and the X-Man Polaris.
Meanwhile, let's take a peek at Xavier, X-Factor and the government.
Uh-oh. Bad news. Reisz is right there with them and Reisz is the Shadow King. Xavier is not able to detect the Shadow King because they are using psychic dampeners to disrupt the Shadow King and these dampeners are also disrupting Xavier's power.
Now he knows Professor. Now he knows.
Add what Banshee said a while back to what the Professor is saying here and we pretty much have a complete picture.
Take out the Nexus, Polaris. Then take out the host, Reisz.
Valerie Cooper is in league with the Shadow King.
Before the action begins the original X-Men get to properly greet their mentor
Nice to see the classic X-Men, even though Hank is back in his blue (Avengers) form and Angel is much changed from his encounter with Apocalypse.
X-Factor starts it's infiltration of Muir Isle.
I'm starting to notice that artist Portacio does the faces of the feral X-Men such as Beast and Wolverine really fierce.
Angel is sent on ahead by Cyclops to reconnoiter. Warren very soon encounters the opposition.
I'm proud to announce that the original X-Men manage to take down the new X-Men in record time.
It is only a fleeting victory, as with two moves, one by Legion, the other by the Shadow King himself, the X-Men find themselves in a bad situation.
This Muir Island Saga really is a war of the psychics.
And as the Shadow King announces his victory yet another move changes the lay of the land. This time by the unlooked for Mystique!
The host is down. And with that Legion is free.
Next the nexus, and here she is.
At once the X-Men are in a moral standstill. How can they disrupt the nexus without hurting Lorna Dane? Forge's team arrives just in time to give advice on the matter.
While the X-Men are in tenterhooks about what to do, the Shadow King take over the worst possible X-Men he can take over - Legion.
The last thing we see from this issue is a sort of 'end of the world' page.