Sadly, due to an illness, Chris Claremont was unable to script this issue of New Excalibur. Luckily, New X-Men co-writer Chris Yost was able to step in and do a nice fill-in scripting job.
I was overally pretty pleased with this issue. A fairly slight issue, all things considered, but it had all the makings of a good superhero story present in this comic.
First off, apparently, Dazzler now has some sort of thing going on with her that she cannot be killed. I am sure Claremont has something planned in regards to this, and I hope he gets back to this title in time to address this plotline, because I worry about letting another writer resolve it without Claremont's input - I don't want to see another "Ned Leeds as the Hobgoblin" type deal here.
The members of Excalibur are split up, with Juggernaut and Nocturne helping out at a disaster site while the other members help transfer some bad guys at a prison. However, they are ambushed by Black Air, the evil organization that Pete Wisdom's sister works for, who are at a prison trying to break out the "Evil X-Men" from the first New Excalibur storyline (evil analogues to the five original X-Men and Professor X). Their agent on the scene in Black Tom Cassidey, who is no longer a mutant, but has new powers courtesy of Black Air.
Meanwhile, while Captain Britain deals with Tom's robot plants and Dazzler comes back to life, Sage is being attacked on the mental plane by the evil Professor X. This is an interesting story where I HOPE that it is not as simple as it seems. While in the mindscape, Sage says something like, "You're in my mind, so I'm in control," and shoots the evil Professor X in the mindscape, which apparently kills him. If this is the beginning of some new story involving Sage's powers, then I'm cool with it, but if that is just supposed to be "par for the course" for Sage, then that's more than a bit silly.
Pete Wisdom has an interesting scene where Pete thinks about using his "hot knives" to ignite a gas tank to kill everyone in the prison area, including himself, so long as it defeats the plans of Black Air. Sage convinces him not to, and he agrees, because he is learning to be a hero (pretty silly scene, actually, now that I think about it).
The cavalry shows up here, and we get probably the highlight of the book, where Juggernaut tries to convince Black Tom, who is left behind when Black Air escapes, to surrender. Very nice scene between two friends. Good idea by Claremont and well scripted by Yost.
Throughout the comic, Michael Ryan and inker Rick Ketcham don't exactly HURT the comic, as they tell a clear story. But they certainly don't AID the story any, either, especially as Ryan's clean, almost cartoonish art does not suit the tone of the story all that well. ESPECIALLY Pete Wisdom, who really just looks goofy walking around in a suit next to these colorful characters in a book this bright.
Anyhow, like I said, this had all the makings of a good superhero story - multiple plots, a lot of action, some good characterizations, some interesting plotlines for characters. I think this was definitely my favorite issue of this series since #1. So I would recommend it, with the slight reservation that I do not know how well this series comes off to those not already fairly versed in the X-Universe.