Going back a little while, I read the string of issues from late 1999/early 2000 that were being republished, in the volumes X-Men: The Shattering, X-Men vs. Apocalypse, Volume 1: The Twelve, and X-Men vs. Apocalypse, Volume 2: Ages of Apocalypse. That segment continues in a brand new volume, X-Men: Powerless.
After the stunning events of The Twelve and Ages of Apocalypse, the team is in shock. Cyclops appears to be dead, Jean Grey leaves the team, and everyone needs a break. The X-Men take a day off, only to receive a most unwelcome visitor, the High Evolutionary, who has drastic news: to save humanity, he has eliminated the ability to use the x-gene, thus turning all mutants into normal humans!
X-Men: Powerless contains: Uncanny X-Men #379 (“What Dreams May Come…”), #380 (“Heaven’s Shadow”), Cable #78 (“I Still Believe I Cannot Be Saved”), X-Force #101 (“Learning to Fly”), Wolverine #149 (“Resurrection”), X-Men #99 (“Oh, the Humanity!”).
One immediate downside: the main storyline is carried just in the X-men books. While Cable, X-Force, and Wolverine deal with the effects of the High Evolutionary’s blocking of mutant abilities, they have no real tie to the main story. Thus, after one chapter to kick off the event and start the main story, we leave that story for half of the book. That jump felt abrupt, and meant going a long time without any real meat to the plot, just more day in the life scenes. Also of note, the issue of Cable was more an epilogue to X-Men vs. Apocalypse, Volume 2: The Ages of Apocalypse. The Powerless storyline doesn’t arrive until the very last page, in a full page panel. No other attachment. I imagine that these issues were included because, in order of least to most important, A) they do show the effects of the loss of powers, B) it fills out the book to a normal size of six issues, and C) it makes a nice capping point, before the Revolution event and the return of Chris Claremont.
On the plus side, the story is fun. The Cable issue drags a bit, but it was nice to see some closure from The Ages of Apocalypse. X-Force was a nice standalone piece that explored bullying, a common theme for X-Men comics. Wolverine was nothing but a robot slaughter, guest starring the New Warriors (including Nova, who has risen to some prominence lately). Action? Yes. I good story? Any real plot worth following? Not really.
The issues of X-Men and Uncanny X-Men tell the overarching story, and it is one that is much better than the three standalone pieces. The idea of blocking mutants to make everyone human raised questions of making the whole world white to stop racism, or to make everyone heterosexual to stop homophobia. This event made a nice parallel that was also explored in the issues by characters in dialogue. The pace was right, and the story a nice, fun, short one after the epic length and time scale of X-Men vs. Apocalypse.
The X-Men story is a plus, and the other three issues a not-so-much, but all-in-all this was still a fun volume. Consider just reading the X-Men issues. You won’t miss anything important to the story.