Northstar and Kyle show up, all ready for their honeymoon in Paris, only to find the rest of the Astonishing team (minus Cecilia, wtf?) waiting for them in the hotel room. They tell Northstar that, alongside the new wave of mutant manifestations, the Friends of Humanity have reared their heads again, and this time are coming at the X-Men from a new angle: they've take out assassination contracts on the families of known X-Men. No one knows where the assassin cells are located, and while the team has Pixie teleporting across the Americas to intercept the bad guys, they need Northstar to cover the rest of the world. (Guys? If you're short on quick-response mutants, he does have a twin. Just saying.)
Northstar leaves Kyle in the protection of the team and heads out.
Kyle isn't happy about the notion that he's a continual liability to his new husband, and his discussions with the X-Men aren't altogether helpful:
- Karma's worried that her kid siblings will resent her for putting them in the line of fire as they get older
- Gambit does some low-key flirting with Kyle over cards and advises that Kyle should try to talk Northstar into retiring from the X-Men, given the strain it'll put on their relationship
- Kyle and Iceman reflect on the fact that romances among X-Men have a remarkably crap track record
- Warbird advises that the best way to strengthen their marriage is for Kyle to learn to kill things
While this is going on, Northstar is hopping around the globe, gathering intel and punching assassins. One group made the mistake of going after Amiko and, after she interrogates the survivors, they reveal that the cell is based in Moscow. The X-Men leave Karma to guard Kyle while they go clean up. Naturally, the FOH goons break in, incapacitate Karma, and take Kyle hostage. (Again.) Kyle points out the flaws in the FOH's methods to the head assassin and keeps him talking long enough for Northstar to show up and mangle the goon squad.
While Northstar is getting the honeymoon preparations back on track, Wolverine advises a still-uncertain Kyle that his relationship with Northstar can work because they're both eyes-open about it and because Kyle and Northstar have their individual strengths, but they're both stronger for being together. Kyle offers to spend some more time getting to know Northstar's X-Men family, fade to black.
The reprint feature is the Alpha Flight #106 coming-out story. Ugh. 1) This was just reprinted in the AXM: Northstar HC and 2) given that so much of this was focused on the X-Men as Northstar's back-up family, the issue where he actually joins the X-Men would have been a better fit. (Hell, the AF issues where he lost his father-figure and got told to kiss off by his sister would have been a better fit.)
I was ready for a straightforward done-in-one after the long-form storytelling in the regular AXM title, and this delivered nicely. It's primarily a JP/Kyle story, but each member of the team gets their page of spotlight discussing their own thoughts on the X-Men and family. Various relatives of current JG School staff and students also get mentions and cameos -- I like that AXM is sequestered away from the events, but it was good to get the reminder that the book is at least peripherally connected to the rest of the X-line. If you like Baldeon's art, it's more of the usual: good action shots and clear storytelling, some exaggerated facial expressions, and a very "Hey, kids! Comics!" style.
In the minus column, the advertised 48 pages of content is a 19-page story plus the reprint, which means the customer is putting down an extra buck for less new material than usual, plus an old PSA issue that Marvel should have the good sense to be sheepish about reprinting once, let alone twice in the span of a few months. And I really wasn't happy about Dr. Reyes being left out of the line-up.
Worth picking up if you're enjoying the current team dynamic, though.