Gah. This is getting complicated; clearly Bryne is not a man to shy away from juggling multiple parties. By the middle of this issue, the eight main characters are in five separate locations. I'm having flashbacks to Cthulhu sessions just thinking about it. Three groups was hard enough - thank God Jamie was accommodating enough to get himself torn to pieces.
Before we get to the full split, though, there's a few things to cover first. We rewind the clock a little way (a fortnight, by my reckoning) to watch the mutate Amphibious save an unconscious Magneto from drowning in the Antarctic Ocean, having presumably fallen in after jumping from the collapsing escape vessel built by his bat-winged former allies.
Leap-frogging (sorry) over to the other side of the Z'Nox caper, we find ourselves on Muir Isle, where Xavier and Moira are checking Jean out after her freak-out in space. This actually makes me more well-disposed to the whole thing, actually. It still seems pointless in the context of the story itself, and the whole "dream as cliffhanger" aspect still guarantees Bryne a spot in Writer's Hell. Nevertheless, using it as a springboard to establish Moira's relationship with Charles a little earlier than was originally the case results in a nice cameo that, unlike the shoe-horning in of Storm back in issue #5, actually makes total sense. Indeed, it allows us to get near probably the most worthwhile thread in this whole project: the idea that no-one can tell if something is wrong with Xavier since his return from the "dead", or if he's just keeping more things back from the X-Men for what he thinks are good reasons.
Jean calls him on all this, and Charles waves it away as a necessary precaution given no-one but he and Jean could resist a psychic probe, but she isn't convinced, and we're not supposed to be either (Hank worries about this same point later in the issue). This "what's Xavier hiding" story has been bubbling since the first issue, so I'm hoping - somewhat naively, perhaps - that there's something good coming down the road. Beast and Cyclops meet the plane as the two telepaths return to the mansion. Cerebro's picked up a new mutant, and it's time to go hunting.
Cut to last issue's little girl, Ashley, who's looking pretty good considering her run in with a Sentinel. Presumably she's the new mutant, and she's playing in the barn a lot these days because she's stuck the robot in there. Not sure why she hasn't been fried already, but who can you trust more to give satisfying explanations than John Bryne. 
Back at the mansion, Cerebro's best guess puts the new mutant close to where Hank's parents live, so Beast and Charles drive out there to do some digging and surprise the McCoys. It's at this point that we reach five different parties, which we'll deal with in no particular order:
- Beast and Professor X themselves pay a flying visit to Hank's mother and father, and then head on to their best guess for the location of their target (Cerebro can't be precise because of an "overlapping signal": the Sentinel? That wouldn't make sense, would it?). It's definitely Ashley's house and, indeed, there's something huge, red and purple lurking in the barn, that quickly gets the drop on Beast. Outside, Charles meets Ashley, and confirms her mutant status, but that's all that can be done before the Sentinel smashes through the barn after the badly beaten McCoy. The two adults are overwhelmed almost immediately, but the Sentinel (one of five, it claims) seems oddly willing to listen to Ashley, despite knowing she's a mutant herself. Was she bait, then? Or is something more interesting going on?
- Jean and Scott are left holding the fort, using Cerebro to try and locate Warren. They think they've finally found him, apparently surrounded by other, weaker contacts, just in time for Candy Southern to re-appear. She's still looking for Angel to pass on some news she apparently needs to deliver personally, so she invites herself along for the rescue mission. She puts on one of Marvel Girls old costumes (it suits Candy better) so as to ensure no-one can recognise her and trace her back to their secret identities. Of course, as soon as they board the freighter we know Angel is on (having used "stealth mode" to park their jet in the sea right next to it - I call bullshit on that one), they both start referring to her as Candy, which probably doesn't do the plan all that much good. Upon the freighter, the trio are attacked by a mob of what may be mutants, or what may just be deformed humans, but fight their way to where they think Angel is being held, only to discover...
- Angel has apparently been crucified. Dun dun DUUUUUUR!
- Alex and Lorna are still flying over the Savage Land with Ka-Zar riding shotgun, and they've finally picked up Bobby's signal, though they're still not quite sure why he's here at all, or where exactly the signal is coming from.
- Actually, Iceman is still amnesiac, and still in the company of Karl Lykos in his Nazi boudoir. This wouldn't be XHY if we didn't have at least one overlong flashback sequence, and this time around it's Karl's, but at least this one goes a little beyond what we already knew to explain how Sauron ended up here, which is nice (see footnote).
Given the length of time it presumably took to return from space, fly to Muir Island, and run through Moira's battery of tests, we'll assume this story starts two days after the last one ended. The issue itself begins some time in the very early morning (from the American perspective) and continues until the mid afternoon.
Wednesday 9th July, 1980.
Disney release The Fox and the Hound.
|We all need a little cuteness every now and then.|
"Well, Professor? Are there [more secrets]?"
"I cannot answer that without knowing what you already know, Jean. And I cannot learn what you already know without possibly revealing things you have no immediate need to know."
 I'm being slightly unfair here. In fact, one of the things I appreciate about this book is Bryne seems very keen to make sure everything makes sense, in as much as the Marvel universe ever can. His explanations might be unimaginative and long-winded, but it's still an effort that's appreciated, especially coming so close after the era of ridiculously drawn-out and increasingly contradictory mysterious sub plots.
Take Amphibious' appearance at the start of this issue: a quick explanation of why Magneto isn't dead, which is definitely preferable to his constant hand-wavey escapes throughout the other X-books (though I acknowledge that such on-screen reprieves would rather spoil suprise returns, something which this title uniquely doesn't have to worry about).