[This post is part of a series of posts looking at Grant Morrison's New X-Men run issue by issue. For more of the same click the New X-Men label at the bottom of this post].
"So who the hell was 'Darkstar' anyway" is a great opening line -- some member of X-Force died in the Weapon 12 attack, and I don't really know who she was either. Scott is flying the X-Jet and replies "Emma! Please... I have to concentrate or the next funeral is mine": talking has not prevented him from fancy flying in the past; it may be possible Emma is distracting him psychically with something more than the line, or it may just be a lame attempt at opening page excitement and exposition (so we know Darkstar is dead).
Meanwhile, Xavier allows everyone to read the memories of the dead woman, which is a nice touch for a mutant funeral.
Meanwhile, Archangel is teaching flying lessons. Angel and Beak stay behind to complain, harass each other, bond, and then make out.
Meanwhile -- notice the pattern here, this is a very disconnected narrative -- we learn from Emma that the Beast is not really gay -- it is all a stunt to "challenge preconceived notions about language, gender and species" in his words. I wonder if this is Morrison backing off of an idea, or his plan all along. This all seems weak, especially as he backs it up with Emma saying the Beast has always been a practical joker: is this all really a practical joke? It all seems sort of lame, especially from a grown man which at least one doctorate. The language he uses to justify himself seems more like the kind of thing you hear from over-eager college students interesting in French theory and performance art. The Beast tells Emma not to mess with Scott and Jean's marriage.
Back in the jet, Wolverine is harassing Scott about how he and Jean don't talk, and Emma is flirting with him (she scoffs at Wolverine's "man's got to mow his own lawn"). She pulls Scott into a psychic landscape where they are jumping out of a plane and she is giving him marriage advice, including a symbolic bit where he loses his 60s outfit, his 90s outfit and Jean's old green Marvel Girl outfit. They land in a candle-lit library and begin talking but Leon does not seem like drawing it for more than a page, so we get more than two full pages of talking heads and a pale pink backdrop. Turns out Jean and Scott are perfect on the outside but powerful, dark and scared of each other on the inside. (We knew this about Jean -- the Dark Phoenix -- but Emma describes Scott in the same way). Emma dresses in the Phoenix costume and says that there is only one way to figure out what went wrong with his marriage -- "You be Scott. And I'll be Jean," she beams in a wonderful image.
Beak and Angel make it to the Shi'ar ship for the class: Beak is in love and Angel collects they money from people who bet her she would not kiss Beak.
The issue ends with Emma, in the Phoenix outfit, on the bed talking about playing with fire and Scott approaching her talking off his jacket and saying "Why not."
The issue is built around love and falling: Angel and Beak in flying class fall in love (he falls for her) and she picks him up when he falls, the Beast is revealed to be playing games with love (pretending to be gay as a stunt), and Scott and Emma begin a psychic affair, a fall from grace emphasized by a fall from an airplane. The connections between scenes are only thematic, which is a bit weak to hold together a story, but perfectly normal for a soap opera, which is what this is. The art is hot and cold: intentionally rough in places (the planes, the funeral), unintentionally rough in others (the Beast and Emma talking, the Shi'ar ship), occasionally bad (a rainbow and hearts over Beak and Angel's kiss? Really?) and occasionally perfect: Emma looks beautiful talking to Scott, and stunning in the Phoenix outfit. The Emma Scott affair is an amazing idea for the X-Men: unlike the Beast being gay, this is really shaking things up.