Astonishing X-Men #46
The Exalted story arc that started up in issue #44 of Greg Pak’s too-short run on the Astonishing title starts out with a re-telling of the shocking backstory of the circumstances under which the X-Treme X-Men team formed. Last issue, we learned that in an alternate universe, a mutant uprising led by Magneto conquers a world but defeated later by a heroic team of X-Men led by that world’s Cyclops and a white-clad hero named Savior, cracking the world as a result. Northstar appears in a single panel cameo as a member of… well, your guess is as good as mine.
The story of the subsequent recruitment of mutants to maintain the integrity of the cracked world is re-told in this issue in a manner that should remind readers of how comics back in the day would actually fill in a new reader to the plot with a few panels or pages of recap, along with editor’s footnotes. Long gone and replaced with a title page, those often long-winded expository recaps were essential to allow new readers to “jump in” to an arc without having to have a new #1 issue thrown into their face every 5 months. While some readers may feel as if repeated material is a waste of precious space, others may enjoy the fullness that recaps and expository flashbacks bring to a comic. In this case, Alpha Flight Collector enjoyed it very much because Northstar makes another appearance.
Shown in another ambiguous battle scene, possibly the same one, it still isn’t clear which side he’s fighting on. In the last issue he was engaged one-on-one with X-23; in this issue, he’s flying in a somewhat battle-ish pose next to Storm but not cleanly engaged in a fight with her. Based on other events in the book, she would be on the Cyclops/Savior team. Who would win? Stormy baby, I love ya, but I’m sorry. Northstar’s speed wins. Last time they squared off it wasn’t even close.
That blur is Northstar clocking Ororo in X-Men #121.
Changes to how he’s drawn since last issue include a new pair of dark sunglasses, sewn cuffs instead of starburst cuffs and a solid black costume from the knees down instead of a white booted costume. He’s been wearing all kinds of costume variants for years now, but likely Mike McKone just draws him differently up close as he does from further away and unfortunately with rounded ears the further one gets. Northstar is supposed to have pointy ears. Keep in mind also that this is a mental projection re-telling of a story already told via mental projection of a flashback on an alternate world, so the source image could have been at fault, not the penciler.