Professor X has evidently turned villainous, taking down members of the X-Men and the Shi'ar Imperial Guard in a bid to control the Shi'ar Empire through Lilandra. Two members of the X-Men remain hidden and safe.
In the panel above, Gladiator is compelled to serve Xavier because, well, he's being mind-controlled. The only barrier was Xavier's morality, which is now evidently lost. Deathbird is in great danger.
Gladiator doesn't kill Deathbird. Worst.
He tears her wings off. Deathbird is having a horrendous time. She loses the throne. She loses a fight to Wolverine. Now this.
More is going to be done to Deathbird but thankfully we never get to see it because Gambit has had enough. He goes into action.
Gladiator runs interference against Gambit's attack and we learn something very interesting about Gambit.
He's not so easily controlled!
Deathbird strikes and for once I'm on her side.
Deathbird and Gambit gang up on Gladiator.
Deathbird is a true warrior, fighting on in spite of her recent mutilation.
Nonetheless, it looks bad for our two heroes.
The one hope is to free Lila Cheney and teleport out. Unfortunately, they won't stop shooting at Gambit and Jubilee.
In the end, only Deathbird is teleported out.
Fortunately, X-Men never give up
The counterattack begins.
Results are satisfactory.
Very satisfactory. The explosion attracts the other X-Men.
I spoke too soon, the X-Men arrive to encounter the Professor's excellent deception.
What I like about this particular plotline is that it reveals how formidable and downright unstoppable Professor X can be without his moral compass. Still. What is going on here? Really!? The Professor a traitor? I am hoping this is a doppelganger.
Suddenly, Wolverine launches into action.
His animal senses cannot be fooled!
Boom! and just like that the "formidable" Professor X goes down.
Everyone is shocked, of course, but it is Psylocke (bafflingly) who launches into action against Wolverine.
Everything is confusion now. Was Wolverine wrong? Was Wolverine right? What's up with Psylocke? Before things can settle down we have the return of Deathbird and Lila Cneney.
Looks like they've been rummaging around Nick Fury's armory.
After they shoot up the place, Cheney teleports the X-Men away sans Psylocke and Wolverine. What's going on?
Xavier didn't survive Wolverine's attack - I would be disappointed at Logan if Xavier did survive.
If things arent' confusing enough here's another panel that adds to the smoke.
'Kill the males and spare the females'. What the? And why is Corsair so bleh at following such an order? He's being ordered to hunt down and kill X-Men? What's going on?
Looks like Ororo is as confused as we are.
Ok, so fact no. 1: Xavier slaughtered an entire planet.
Not the only genocide, and all of them blamed on Deathbird. But then again, this information is from Deathbird.
Amidst all the confusion, Storm looks amazing.
Deathbird attempts the near impossible: Enlisting the aid of the X-Men.
The Starjammers are on the hunt. It's subtle but they're behaving strangely, as if they're not really the Starjammers.
Back with the X-Men, Forge has created some equipment for his team.
Deathbird's mind is attacked and she orders Cheney to teleport her out. After they leave, Forge is stuck with one fork of a two-pronged attack. Man, this is crazy.
These panels show something really is up and Psylocke is not who she seems.
Villains reveal themselves.
Some kind of green alien - apparently with a whole 'host'- is at the heart of the deception. I can't place this alien race.
These aliens make, yes make, another Xavier who holds Lillandra (the real Lillandra) in thrall in this way.
The initial confusion is lifting but the situation is getting dire. Still, the comicbook ends on a high note as it focuses on the real Charles Xavier, imprisoned in some kind of alien web.
Thank God we don't have to wait a month before opening issue 277.
The Starjammers, hunting the X-Men, have two of them in sight.
Banshee is in danger of being killed as Corsair gives the fire order. Fortunately, Gambit has infiltrated the Starjammer ship and has interfered with a timely 'card throw'.
We get a beautiful two-page spread of what the attack looks like from the outside.
As the Starjammer ship nears a planetary atmosphere Storm is able to summon her namesake. The power of the storm accidentally destroys Forge's space sled. Forge does some fast acting and thinking and is forced to board the Starjammer ship.
With Gambit on the inside and Forge on the outside it is the Starjammers' turn to be on the defensive.
Hepzibah, informs her teammates, that she can take on Gambit on her own.
Admittedly, I'm not familiar with Hepzibah's powerset. She can use weaponry but I think that's about it. I don't think the energy mutant Gambit will have a problem with her.
As this panel confirms . . .
. . . Forge in the bowels of a ship (any ship really) can prove to be a formidable foe.
It is just too bad that the Starjammer giant, Ch'od discovers Forge. Forge shoots Ch'od point blank on the head but Ch'od just smiles it away (impressive). Forge is not in a good place.
Lucky for him that his imminent demise is interrupted by the one X-Man who's scream is more then just an expression of emotion.
Banshee or Black Bolt Lite.
This is very interesting.
The Starjammers are referring to themselves as "the host"; an inkling that they are not in control of themselves.
We're getting a pattern here. Just as Banshee is about to die, Storm comes in.
Finally, the true enemy reveals itself.
We switch our attention to the Maul.
Not the mall, the Maul. Trapped behind Deathbird and Lila Cheney are the real X-Men. They are very soon confronted by the fake X-Men.
Deathbird can now boast that she has been attacked by both the real Wolverine and a fake one.
Just as Gladiator attacks, Professor X (the real one) orders Lila out of there.
If Professor X has a plan then I'm expectant that things are going to turn.
As all of this is happening, the X-Men in the Starjammer ship manage to take control and we are witness to a timely arrival.
The dangerous thing about these Skrulls is that as they 'imprint' the X-Men they also copy their powers.
It's Gambit vs. Gladiator and Gladiator gets the 'full deck'.
Fake Psylocke goes against Forge. As Forge gets hit with the Psychic Knife in the head, I wince - Forge needs that brain.
It's not so bad though, that Forge can't counterattack.
Fake Wolverine gets stabbed by Gambit.
Then he gets hit by a Banshee attack.
Is it enough to keep him down?
The ace-in-the-hole for the Skrulls seems to be the fake Professor X.
The fake Professor X's gloating is interrupted by a 'problem'.
And just like that it's over. Except for some Imperial matters.
The stolen kiss is an adolescent move but I like the complicated layer this puts on to Deathbird. She's getting more real; not a 'cut-out' villain.
Look at this.
Ever head one of those? Just as you think you can get some rest after the resolution of one problem another one presents itself tagged 'Urgent'. Ughh! You're already drained but more is expected of you. Given that, the Professor shows both maturity and stamina by how he reacts.
I think, to react like this, you have to enjoy the problems a little. And with that, the X-Men jump to another adventure. The prologue will be in this very same issue just one panel really as Stevie Hunter faces a confrontation.
This seems to be the season for taking over the X-Men. Patterns. Claremont patterns.