Back in New York as Spider-Man, he stumbles upon Rogue who is apparently still reeling from her switcheroo with Kurt. And here we are at issue #3, A Night on the Town where Rogue and Spidey spent some time together hovering in the rooftops and eating takeout food as they reminisce about their comrades, both dead and alive. Since she is my ultimate favorite character, I'm always ready to invest myself on whatever storyline Rogue is present in and I think I like her situation for now. I recall a time in the earlier issues where she started contemplating about her role in the X-Men in the aftermath of Wolverine's death. She expressed that she wanted to do more and be more for her friends and for the world and I think she is getting that wish--just not in her own terms. Siphoning Nightcrawler's teleportation ability and physical appearance have taken a toll on her because she was also beginning to feel like she is less than herself which is exactly how Kitty feels herself after inheriting Wolverine's adamantine claw. With issue #3, we see Rogue coming to terms that perhaps there is an advantage to this switched mutation after all which entails being able to have direct physical contact with another person. This was exactly what she tried to do with Spidey--she actually reached out and tried to kiss him. It occurred to me that Rogue has never kissed anyone at this point, or at least enjoy and appreciate that intimate gesture without draining the life out of that person (if human) or weakening their powers (if a mutant). I actually thought it was poignant that the very first thing she does after she acknowledges this was to seek out affection in the form of a kiss and Spidey happens to be there and he was nice and interested in her welfare, etc. It positively breaks my heart.
Their date gets interrupted when Sentinels found the rest of the X-Men and Jean contacts Rogue for help. So, yes, it looks like they weren't really dead after all. Using a piece of Teseract technology, they were able to activate it so it looks like the Xavier Mansion disappeared but is actually just phasing between two realities. In our world, the mansion cannot be seen but in an alternate spectrum of reality, it still exists as well as the people who live in it. They did this so they can freely operate and function undercover since everyone is after them these days, including the Avengers and S.H.I.E.L.D. Nick Fury and his select operatives under his command are stuck with them as well. I'm not surprised by this development. Any species will do whatever it takes to survive and the X-Men's options have been dwindling at a steady, fast rate, especially since the Burnout is still looming over their heads. Spider-Man helps out and reassures them that he is on their side and can damn well keep a secret. In the midst of the fighting with the Sentinels, Rogue and Kurt were shocked to find Mystique aiding them. She asserts that she wants to join the X-Men in their crusade against the Burnout and whatever forces they have to overcome.
This brings us to issue #4, Stolen Lives, where Sabretooth and Moira MacTaggert have been kidnapped by Morlocks who are basically "magic" mutants. They've been living in the tunnels directly underneath the mansion and are apparently displeased when the X-Men decided to take their home and suspend it in constant phasing in an alternate reality. Who wouldn't? Anyway, they kidnap Moira so she can quickly find a cure for the burnout while under their scrutiny and supervision. Sabes was there for incentive so she won't even dare deny their requests. Distressed, Diana Dugan asks Fury and Scott to dispatch a rescue team for Moira and Sabretooth, but mostly for Sabes because, I shit you not, Diana seems to be falling in love with Sabes--genuinely and bafflingly, I may add. I understand that he rescued her and got his arm amputated but I expected a seasoned agent and spy like Diana would be more distrustful and callous than this. She's acting completely cliché, pining over a man who saved her and getting weepy about her feelings because she knows it's wrong to have them but screw it, she's going to be with him no matter what. It's just..weird. I had to pause reading just to laugh about it. On the other hand, Mystique is now in the mansion but nobody wants to trust her except Kurt who just found out she's his mother and is now eager to put his faith on her which I can hardly blame him for. Family still has to mean something especially during such troubled times. Fury with Jean and Kurt decide to interrogate her while the rest (Gambit, Kitty, Diana and Scott) decide to come after the Morlocks to save their friends. Ororo sneaked out to help them but only gets chased around after the leader of the Morlocks disfigured Gambit and Scott and made them his puppets.
This brings us to issue #5, Dead Reckoning. So Ororo is getting chased around and couldn't hurt her would-be assailants because they're no other than Scott and Gambit. Kitty comes to save Ororo while Diana gets Sabretooth and Moira. A battle breaks out in the tunnels between the two factions of mutants which was stopped when Diana shoots a gun in the air (shouldn't it ricochet?). She tries to talk some sense into the Morlocks, asking for their cooperation since they both have a singular enemy which is the Burnout. Moira further reinforces it by claiming that she will help finding a cure as long as the Morlocks agree on her terms and not hurt any of her friends. The Morlock leader agrees and sets Gambit and Scott free under his spell. So a peaceful arrangement was possible after all, thanks to the negotiations of these fine women--but it gets disrupted when a team of S.H.I.E.L.D agents (whom I will assume are working for the Consortium) tries to apprehend all of then. The X-Men managed to get away but the Morlocks were captured. Inside the mansion, Jean Grey tries to penetrate Mystique's mind but she's very resistant to telepathy and even mocks Jean by shapeshifting into the four men she loves the most: Scott, Hank, Logan and Charles. When she turned into Logan last, Jean became very infuriated and almost turned into the Phoenix right there and then and Mystique felt honestly afraid. Nevertheless, she wondered how she can turn this discovery to her advantage somehow. Kurt tried talking to her next but Rogue puts a stop to their conversation when she tries to choke the life out of Mystique so she can reveal her intentions under the threat of asphyxiation. Mystique tells her that she wants to reconnect with her and Kurt to make up for the awful things she has done in the past. To demonstrate that, she hugs Rogue tenderly, and--for the first time ever--they were both able to hold each other without the danger of Rogue sucking her powers. It was a touching moment. I can only hope Mystique does mean to do right by her children this time around.
With Mystique officially on the team and can use her shapeshifting to aid them in their missions, things are bound to get crazier (this is Claremont writing X-Men after all) but I also hope it'd be just as interesting too. I'm ready for another clusterfuck. LET"S DO THIS!!!