The setting for this installment is divided between the events in the Xavier Mansion, and an ongoing infiltration mission in a Consortium base somewhere led by Nick Fury with Diane Dugan, Sabretooth and Gambit along for the mission. The latter is something that should be exciting but the only thing that happened was the discovery of Fabian Cortez which I spoiled ahead in the previous issue because it was such a shit issue and I have nothing to fill its content so I just decided to mention and expound Cortez' situation there. In any case, I'm going to repeat myself again: apparently, the Consortium has been experimenting on him and he tried to bargain his way with Fury and the others by pointing out that his genetics may be the key in solving the mutant burnout crisis everyone is making such a big deal of since issue #6 but I have yet to see any tangible or horrifying implications of it. Really, everyone is living on borrowed time--do the mutants really believe that they should be an exception to this just because they are an evolutionary leap from their less evolved kin, the homo sapiens? I suppose people like Mystique and Sabretooth have some form of immunity but the rest are doomed to die young so they're racing against the clock to find a solution that can guarantee the survival of their species.
If this is a really important plot thread then I certainly hope Claremont brings his A-game and stop giving us filler story arcs in between and just focus on the burnout crisis instead. The irony about it thought is that he still has to build up certain subplots that are in relation to this main one and yet he manages to accomplish little every time he does because there's just something underwhelming and half-baked about the way he's written the last four issues or so. I think the pacing has started to suffer by the end of the Sentinels arc and we're trudging along the dangerous possibility that this could get more convoluted than necessary. We have S.H.I.E.L.D vs. The Consortium vs. the X-Men. We got individual vendettas from Storm and Black Magik (who will make an appearance because their arcs are unfinished after all), and then we have the blindingly stupid character conflict of Jean Grey regarding the men she's romantically interested in. It's just insane, the amount of story threads that Claremont had plot out in just nineteen issues and none of them are coming into brilliant fruition, let alone a nuanced development that I can actually stay invested in. At this point, I'm grasping at the straws. I'm noticing the flaws more in the narrative and characters I'm supposed to root for are getting under my nerves.
I'm going to cut my ranting short so I can discuss the three key scenes for the Xavier Mansion. First we have Rogue and Nightcrawler in the laboratory being examined by Hank. They are trying to determine the extent of their switcheroo debacle. Jean and Professor X decided to test it by having Charles touch Kurt and that's when we find out that Kurt has now the ability to siphon and absorb mutant powers while Rogue is stuck with his tail and teleportation shtick. Speaking of disastrous borrowed power, Kitty Pryde is getting surlier by the moment, concerned about the adamantium claw and whatever genetically inherited personality quirk Wolverine may have left in her system that makes her capable of murderous instincts. Not even 'Ro can cheer her up. Meanwhile, both Jean and Hank have the opportunity to disclose their slight indiscretion from issue #14 to no other than Scott but both of them decided to delay the inevitable some more especially since Cyke is hearing none of it. It's not like they have to ask his permission to date or anything, but they do owe him an explanation. It would suck if Scott once again finds out about Jean's new romantic prospect by accident or under duress. But who am I kidding? That's probably what's going to happen because I'm reading Chris Claremont and it's not an X-Men by Claremont unless we have these precious soap-opera moments thrown in.
The next issue is the last time I will be doing individual reviews of XMF. After #20 and my official review for the fourth volume, I'll be posting one review for a story arc regardless of how many installments. That way, I can save time and discuss only what is necessary. I think it's just more practical and proficient that way. Anyway, I'll excuse this issue because there are at least more scenes in the content than the Cyclops-centered one. I really need to raise my standards at this point, XMF!