This issue is depressing, emotional, fun, and hopeful all at the same time. It's a pretty impressive feat.
The team arrives in Chicago to help Scott fend off the Ghosts of Cyclops. They overpower them pretty quickly, so the Ghosts beat an exit. However, Scott grabs one of them, called Thirst, and beats him with a bat until Hank and the police make him stop. He and Thirst get taken to prison to "cool off" for the night. With no other options, Bobby and Hank take Pickles to get pizza, since he needs to refuel to teleport them again. (Hank is expecting a mob scene when Scott gets released the next day, since everyone around them during his arrest was recording it on their phones. As such, he wants them to be able to move quickly.) They leave Evan and Idie to take care of removing the "nerd wagon" from the library, a problem that Idie ingeniously solves by simply having it towed and sticking Hank with the bill. Hank tries to talk to Bobby about how he's been doing, particularly with the whole gay thing, but Bobby refuses to talk about it. Hank's attempted heart-to-heart gets interrupted when Pickles suddenly realizes that he's in a pizza shop and starts eating everything that he can find. It leads to the most important lesson that the kids are likely to learn in this series: bring pizza to Pickles, not Pickles to pizza.
Meanwhile, Scott loses his shit (again) when Thirst mistakes him for Cyclops' son. He tells Thirst the truth and, although some people might find it unlikely that he'd confess to Thirst, it actually worked for me. It felt exactly like conversations that teenagers are wont to have with each other at times, even if (actually, particularly if) they're from different walks of life. In other words, it's that adolescent (not in a bad sense) search for understanding. Meanwhile, the Ghosts have regrouped, and Hopeless does an amazing job of showing them as just normal kids. They're not evil monsters; they're inspired by Cyclops' vision of pushing against the world just like our kids are inspired by Xavier's dream of living in harmony. The Ghosts are also modern kids (as opposed to our gang), discussing how "X-fan" sites have talked about teenager doppelgängers of the original five X-Men appearing on the scene the previous year. They decide to break out Thirst (after escaping a confrontation with Laura and Warren), though it remains to be seen if Scott agrees to go with them or not.
Again, I really marvel at the excellent job that Hopeless does getting everyone's emotional state exactly right. He spends as much time on the "bad guys" as he does the "good guys," and it gives this issue its emotional heft. As I've mentioned, it's reminiscent of the New Mutants vs. the Hellions, something that Hopeless even mentions in passing here. The Hellions were never natural-born killers, but students under a professor with a different philosophy about how mutants should play their role in society. The Ghost's "professor" is just inconveniently dead. Honestly, I want to learn more about pretty much everyone here, a good sign that Hopeless shouldn't have any problem keeping me engaged in the coming issues.
**** (four of five stars)