At the time of 198 Marvel’s vast mutant population had been reduced to what was estimated at just 198 retaining their powers after an arbitrary moment of magic. David Hine brings home just how arbitrary that loss of power was, showing Magma and her boyfriend, also with heat powers at the heart of a volcano. Suddenly his powers disappear and he fries, while hers remain and she survives, albeit considerably fractured.

The other mutants who’ve survived are placed in a government run refugee camp. Depending on the opposing views, this is either a place where they can be be protected from violence with giant Sentinels guarding the walled perimeter of the large enclosure, or an internment camp with the Sentinels acting as jailers. Hine establishes there’s no ethical divide among those who’ve retained their powers, and some malignant personalities are among them, but so is the mysterious and remarkable Mr. M. He’d operated under the X-Men’s radar, and is a kindly soul using his powers to progress transformation for the greater good.

Artist Jim Muniz seems to have only worked in comics briefly, but as can be seen throughout, he’s one hell of a talent. His people live and breathe, his layouts are imaginative and his action stunning, so truly a lost talent.

At the time 198 was a bridging point, with the X-Men’s involvement minimal. They’re largely there to argue the case for trust in the government and protection, while Hine uses 198 to explore the ethical ramifications of what’s happening and to have readers ask how much control is advisable in the name of protection. When originally published, more information about the real world US Guantanamo prison without trial was becoming available. The tipping point would become ever more of a talking point for Americans, which supplies 198 with a continued relevancy most contemporary X-Men material no longer has, as thrilling as it might be just as a superhero story. 198 scores on that count also, as the focus on lesser known mutants allows for greater unpredictability. All in all, still a winner.