Thank god for this issue. After the shit-storm of betrayal, bereavement and earth-shattering discoveries that was the Love--And Loss! story arc in the previous five issues, it's truly a kindness that Chris Claremont at least gave us this simple and delightful issue that allows readers and the characters to breathe and put everything in a much needed perspective.
What I really love about this issue is that it's sort of a feel-good installment where everyone is now allowed to contemplate about the extent of the damages that have been inflicted and how much they tipped off the general balance of things. The issue also heavily featured the teenage Ororo (who may be a clone? Who the fuck knows) and she is just the cutest thing ever.
And yes, I am focusing on her cuteness because the adult Storm has eviscerated me so much that I'm sort of in denial about it still, in spite of the obvious fact that there is this gaping hole at the center of my chest where my love for her was usually tucked in. With sweet Ororo, we were able to see things in her wide-eyed and innocent perspective, including the way she relates to and interacts with Gambit, Cyclops and Shadowcat. This issue entitled Play Day was illustrated by Paul Smith whose perky illustrations suited the light-heartedness of Claremont's writing tone for the story.
In the aftermath of the destruction of the Danger Room, Remy, Scott, Kurt and Kitty decided to clean up the mess which was a really tiresome chore, considering how much of the room was destroyed. Ororo sneaked in just to watch the guys do their thing but she was hesitant to join them because she feels very much out-of-place in this situation. She is aware of what the Storm in this timeline has done but I don't think she can fully grasp the gravity of that, let alone react to it. She's close with Remy and is quite put off by Scott's meddling while she's not sure how to even behave herself around Kitty. It's refreshing to see this version of Ororo who hasn't come to terms or developed her powers yet so when she accidentally used her powers, it made me sigh and shook my head in mild amusement. I think the rest of the gang may be wary of her but they're astute enough to know that this Ororo is not the Storm they worked alongside with, let alone betrayed by. They pretty much treat her like any mutant kid who is inherently curious about them as they are of her.
We also get an exchange between Professor X and Sabretooth and the tension is a mile high for this, given that Sabretooth just spelled out basically that since a genetic part of Logan has infused with Kitty, he is now inclined to follow Kitty around, sniffing her out. It's pretty creepy but then again, Sabretooth is an asshole. Anyway, he decided to stay behind since he not only wants to kill Storm, he also wants to get whoever employed her in the first place, the elusive Consortium. Professor X is not pleased about this development but he knows that some amount of his authority has been endangered after the X-Men found out that he lied about the "mutation burnout" as they deemed it and Sabretooth was quick to point out that as much as the X-Men do hate him, at least he is not the professor who is clearly suffering the guilt of his deception and whom the X-Men are still figuring out how to forgive at this point. I feel genuinely bad for Charles. I think that his position has always been a challenging one, and now that his adopted children have grown up as adults who can decide whether or not to still accept him, it's putting so much strain because he's so used to being in control, being the most powerful telepath in the world and all that. Sadly, he's going to have to adjust to the fact that this is a standstill he's going to have to stay stuck in.
Meanwhile, in the lab, Jean and Hank have a heart-to-heart concerning Scott and Logan. I can sympathize with her a lot. She's been with Scott since the beginning of the X-Men comics and they had endured many hardships together but she has fallen in love with somebody else in their team and that someone winds up dead and she felt his demise move through her since they were strongly linked telepathically. And now Scott knows how she feels about Logan, who may not be one of his closest friends but he's still someone Scott admired and respected as a fellow teammate. Scott isn't even angry, that's the sad part. He's far too focused on trying to take care of everybody else since he is the leader so he has to put aside his conflict (or lack thereof) with Jean. She knows this is just the kind of man Scott has always been but I think there's a part of her that wishes he would get angry because it would show that he cares enough to lose control and fuck up a little bit. But no, Scott the golden boy has to be mature and the better man so he graciously allows Jean her time and space to grieve Logan while he's cleaning up the Danger Room. But at least Hank was there to listen though she's keeping things repressed for now so they can focus on work.
Back in the Danger Room, the clean-up was not going as smoothly especially when it's a sentient creature fighting back. I'd like to believe that these scenes are a metaphorical representation of their struggle to fix things emotionally among them. The Danger Room represents everything they consider stable and functional in their lives as a family and community and now that it has been damaged, they need to repair it together although it's going to take some time to get it running again in perfect condition, much like their team--but it doesn't mean they will stop trying and give up on each other. A scene with Remy, Scott and the young Ororo further emphasizes this. There's a lovely bit of dialogue here that Scott says to comfort Ororo about what lies ahead and what her role could be in all of this depending on her choices:
Like I said, this issue was a saving grace. It's very insightful. Characters get to mull over their individual struggles and show sympathy for each other's plight, trying to ease the difficulty of the situation as much as they can by just listening and being there for their friends. For me, this is a feel-good break from all the drama--which we all know is still coming.