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Wednesday, November 18, 2015

X-amining Uncanny X-Men #274

"Crossroads"
March 1991

In a Nutshell 
Magneto & Rogue battle Zaladane in the Savage Land. 

Script: Chris Claremont
Plot/ Pencils: Jim Lee
Inks: Scott Williams
Letters: Pat Brousseau
Colors: Joe Rosas
Edits: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
In the wake of attacks launched by Zaladane, the UN authorizes a SHIELD force to enter the Savage Land to stop her. In the Savage Land, Magneto, Rogue and Ka-Zar shortly thereafter come across the wreckage of the force, brought down by Zaladane's power and the natural resistance of the Savage Land to higher-order electronics. Just then, they're attacked by the Savage Land Mutates, sent by Zaladane. Magneto overpowers them, but leaves them alive at Rogue's insistence, then all three return to Magneto's citadel. Studying Zaladane's power, Magneto realizes she will cause irrepable harm to the planet's biosphere if not stopped. That night, Rogue awakens Magneto as Zaladane and her forces attack the citadel. Magneto is easily overpowered by Zaladane, and her troops threaten to route Ka-Zar's until the SHIELD unit, led by Nick Fury, emerges from the jungle and turns the tide, driving them off.


Once Rogue vouches for Magneto, he approaches the force, but when he learns one of the Russians attached to the unit had a son aboard the submarine Magneto once sank, he leaves, realizing there's too much bad blood between them to work together. Rogue chases after him, however, and convinces him to help them stop Zaladane, and the force departs to confront her. Elsewhere, the X-Men arrive on an alien world, transported there by Lila Cheney, who doesn't know where they are, as the coordinates for the location were implanted in her head. The X-Men are attacked and quickly captured by the local flora, at which point Deathbird emerges from the shadows, declaring that she needs them to slay Professor Xavier for her.

Firsts and Other Notables
Jim Lee receives sole plotting credit on this issue, with Claremont only credited with the script. Which seems odd, given that the overall plot of this issue seems designed to wrap up (or at least continue) the Zaladane/Savage Land arc from issues #249-250. Nevertheless, this makes this one of the few issues of X-Men in which Claremont doesn't formally receive at least co-plotting credit.

The Rogue/Magneto romance, which intensifies next issue then more or less gets codified by "Age of Apocalypse" a few years later, begins in earnest here, as Rogue wakes Magneto from a nightmare and he finds himself attracted to her.


Given that Larry Stroman drew the closing pages of the previous issues, featuring the newly uniformed and re-assembled X-Men, this issue provides our first look at Jim Lee's take on the uniformed X-Men (this issue also depicts the first time Cyclops and Jean Grey meet Guido, for what that's worth).
 

Magneto's narration references the deaths of his daughter Anya and Isabelle, tales told in the backup stories of Classic X-Men #12 and #19, respectively.


The leader of the Soviet forces working with Nick Fury in this story had a son aboard the Leningrad, the Russian nuclear sub which Magneto sank in issue #150.


Deathbird, last seen in Spotlight on the Starjammers, pops up on the final page of the issue, having used Lila to unknowingly bring the X-Men to her; she will feature in the unfolding Shi'ar story over the next few issues.

Along with Zaladane, the Savage Land Mutates (who were created by Magneto, this issue reminds us) show up for the first time since issue #250, all looking great under Lee.


I've long wondered when, exactly, the decision to launch a second X-Men title was made; in this issue's Bullpen Bulletins column a bunch of different creators are interviewed about their New Year's resolutions (cover dated March of 1991, this issue was on sale in January of that year, so presumably the interviews were conducted shortly before the January '91 issues went to press) and one of those creators is Jim Lee. In his response, he mentions the upcoming X-Men #1, meaning that at least by late 1990 it had been decided to launch the second title, even though it wouldn't go on sale until August of 1991. 

The Statement of Ownership printed in this issue lists the average number of copies sold during the preceding twelve months as 415,961, with the actual number sold of the issue nearest to the filing date as 404,300, compared to 408,925 and 436,200 in the previous year.

Just for funsies, here's a comparison of the last three years' worth of Statement of Ownership numbers:

Average issues sold per month:
88-89: 432,705
89-90: 408,925
90-91: 415,961

Number of copies sold of issue nearest filing date:
88-89: 392.750
89-90: 436,200
90-91: 404,300

Certainly, some of those numbers point to the oft-suggested claim that the "non-team" era was hurting sales (of course, even down sales then would be astronomical sales today), though as in most things, nothing is ever as simple as being caused by one thing. It's worth noting the series was bi-weekly for three months out of each of these years (meaning an extra three issues per year were produced), and that the peak of the non-team era also coincided with both the 90-91 bi-weekly schedule and the transition from Marc Silvestri to Jim Lee as the book's regular penciler, so the lackluster fill-in art was doing the more offbeat stories no favors.  

A Work in Progress
The issue opens with another news report, this one about Zaladane's attacks, given by Trish Tilby, who's presumably returned from her assignment in India (which she received in X-Factor #59).


It's noted early in the issue that the Savage Land emits a field which messes with the functions of higher electronics, though the SHIELD agents' guns and helicopters are usable later in the issue.

Magneto is notably weak in this issue, his power sapped. I believe next issue attributes this to Zaladane's ascension.


Magneto notes that he wears red, the color of blood, in memory of those who died in the Auschwitz.


Rogue's powers still haven't returned following the reintegration of her bio-matrix performed by Magneto in issue #269.

Magneto apparently carries a personal hologram projector with him at all times, enabling him to appear before Nick Fury and the SHIELD force and suss out their reaction to him without actually appearing before them.


Jubilee, upon learning the X-Men are friends with Lila Cheney and that Lila is a mutant, wonders if everyone the X-Men know has powers, possibly a knowing wink on Claremont's part to his tendency to turn even the smallest supporting characters into people with super-human abilities.

Claremontisms
Magneto says Zaladane will give "no quarter" in their fight, while Rogue is supposed to "well nigh invulnerable". 

It's in the Mail
This issue features a long letter from a fan that has always stuck with me: in it, he points out Claremont's propensity for writing strong, well-developed female characters, something I was subconsciously aware of prior to reading this letter for the first time, but of which I became consciously aware for the first time after reading it. The writer's crowning of Xavier, Magneto and Franklin Richards as the three most powerful mutants in the Marvel Universe has always stuck with me as well, impressing that trinity on me at a young age, and to this day, I tend to think of powerful mutants in relation to those three.


Reading the letter as an adult, the writer's criticisms become more apparent and borderline misogynistic - he doesn't like that the women are routinely more powerful than the men, though his arguments aren't terribly strong, and wnd while issue #219 is certainly a problematic issue, it's not really for the reasons he details: the X-Men are relatively cold to Havok not because he's a man, but because in their minds, he's linked to the Silver Age X-Men whom at that time they distrust due to the whole "mutant hunting" ruse in X-Factor.

Teebore's Take
This is another of my all time favorite issues. Ostensibly an excuse for Lee to do a retro Savage Land story with its scantily clad natives (including Rogue) while also giving Claremont an opportunity to tie-up his Zaladane plot, still dangling from issue #250, the story started here (and conclusded in the next issue) also serves as the finale to the character arc Claremont has put Magneto on during his tenure on the title. After this wraps, there's one more Claremont-penned Magneto story to come, but that reads much more like a denouement for the character than an actual declarative statement of his character like this.

Here, a weakened Magneto is situated between two powerful women: Rogue, his erstwhile teammate, urging him to look ahead and walk a better path, to rise above his past actions and predilections, and Zaladane, who thanks to her encounter with Polaris, now wields a similar power to his own, albeit with even greater savagery and less responsibility than he ever did, a vivid reminder of the maniacal super-villain he once was. How Magneto responds to these poles, whether he reverts to more villainous methods or holds true to the more virtuous ones represented by Rogue, is held for next issue. But in setting up that conflict, Claremont dives deeper than ever into Magneto's character, recalling both his personal tragedies and the ones he orchestrated himself (specifically the reation of the Savage Land Mutates and the sinking of the Leningrad, still the single largest act of villainy perpetrated by Claremont's Magneto).

The end result is some of Claremont's most Claremontian writing (in a good way), as he writes some legitimately poetic narrative captions in Magneto's voice, all juxtaposed against Lee's gorgeous jungle action scenes. That juxtaposition, between the deeply introspective character-based writing and the more Saturday matinee, popcorn-munching art, is another great example of the positive outcome born from the push-and-pull between two creators with seemingly different agendas, each pulling in the opposite direction and turning out one of the series' finest issues in the process.

Next Issue
Tomorrow, we say goodbye to one New Mutant and hello to another in New Mutants #99. Friday, Iceman's Japanese adventure concludes in X-Factor #64. Next week, things get animated with the X-Men Animation Special: Pryde of the X-Men

Collected Editions

39 comments:

  1. "Magneto notes that he wears red, the color of blood, in memory of those who died in the Auschwitz."

    Weird, I've always thought his costume was a deep orange, not red. Probably because of the SECRET WARS action figure, which was, in fact, orange and purple.

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    1. I must insist the actual real reason is him ordering his magenta costume originally from an unfortunately half-deaf tailor (or, tolliver), and this remembrance thing is only a later adopted explanation. Which it obviously is, Claremont coming up with that backstory 150 issues after his premiere.

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  2. Yeah, this was a favorite. As much as Jim Lee could draw the sexy (and scantily clad) ladies, his version of Magneto was definitive for me, in a way that's surprising considering how much history the character had by then. It really culminated in X-Men #1, an issue that actually lived up to the hype--just before the bubble burst on the franchise (for me). And having been collecting and reading Classic X-Men by this point was really paying off, as both the old stories and the new, bonus ones were referenced here. The "2nd X-Men book" had yet to come, but I was already buying Uncanny and Classic each month. (Funny enough, it's the run of Classic I'm considering keeping rather than the substantial Uncanny run, which I'll be selling at some point.)

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  3. Magneto says that his heart is pledged to another. Who's he talking about? Lee Forrester?
    Re: the letter- I think he had a BIT of a point. Especially with Alex- you can't really excuse the team's treatment of him in issue 219 even if they did connect him to his brother and you would never be able to get away with a male hero mistreating a heroine in the same way.

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    1. I can totally see where the letter is coming from. As an 8 years old boy I was in considerable pains to find my fave character from among the ranks of male characters, so much, much later on it came really as a shock when I realized that especially with the character arcs Claremont was really catering for the ladies. Storm had to come in terms with her losing her powers and all the internal and external pressure on the leadership question; Rogue was on a quest for atonement for her past especially with and related to Carol Danvers, and partly connected to that Dazzler had an ongoing feud with her in side of her constant superstar vs. superhero conundrum; compared to that the likes of Colossus and Nightcrawler with their oh i don't know i like drawing stuff and oh noes the beyonder right into meine religion feel like short straw stuff, not helped one bit by both being written off at the Mutant Massacre. What comes to Havok or gah, Longshot, there seemed to be more personal development for Maddie Pryor, technically a supporting character.

      Admittedly, there is Wolverine. Thank god for Wolverine. You know, thinking it like this, I can't completely write it off that the popularity of Wolverine may have an amount to do with the fact that after Cyclops left the team Wolverine was the only male character left who had a bit of protagonist in him, while the book itself was at the same time shooting to success on strength of Claremont's storytelling among what is predominantly young male readership.

      Last week's Comic Book Legends Revealed had things to say about Nightcrawler, who under Cockrum was a light-hearted swashbuckler but who Claremont took to the clashing direction of religiousness the minute he could, and we all know how Colossus was editorially mandated to break up with Kitty (who I have come to understand two thirds of the readership had a crush on), which threw the two other male characters off-balance at the same time when Wolverine was fighting ninjas.

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    2. Maybe Magneto was referring to the memory of Magda?

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    3. That would be my reading too, but it's kind of harsh because the last he saw ever her was her running away scared and cursing him a murderer. It may be the idea of Magda, as someone he personally saved from a death camp and who then consequently looked up to him in gratitude mistaken for love, which is more or less what he's trying to do to the mutantkind as whole. Mags may well be beyond such mortal wants of personal companionship at this point and fully buying into the demands of his position as a messianic figure for the mutantkind.

      Probably drawing an amount of smugness from the fact that the bald guy has for a while been content on just dallying with his intergalactic empress gal pal and his brotherhood of dreamer mutants haven't been amounting to anything lately.

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  4. Retrospectively speaking, I don't like the cover. Are we looking at the first installment of Jim Lee drawing everyone posing at the camera? Terrible breaker for the suspension of disbelief for me that.

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  5. I had kind of lapsed on reading Uncanny. And paging through this one in the store brought me back. I didn't know at the time it was the first time Jim Lee drew this team in the blue and gold, but it blew me away, that page near the end where they show up.

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  6. I've long wondered when, exactly, the decision to launch a second X-Men title was made; in this issue's Bullpen Bulletins column a bunch of different creators are interviewed about their New Year's resolutions (cover dated March of 1991, this issue was on sale in January of that year, so presumably the interviews were conducted shortly before the January '91 issues went to press) and one of those creators is Jim Lee. In his response, he mentions the upcoming X-Men #1, meaning that at least by late 1990 it had been decided to launch the second title, even though it wouldn't go on sale until August of 1991.

    I've always wondered this too. We know that the line-wide overhaul was planned at least as early as late-1990, since Tom DeFalco scuttled Portacio's plan to have Scott and Jean get married in X-Factor. DeFalco's reasoning was that the wedding should happen in Uncanny, so I'd guess that the second book was conceived around this time.

    But, if that's the case, it makes UXM 273 seem a bit silly in retrospect. The roster change-up and uniformed look that Claremont and Lee debuted just doesn't make much sense with the line-wide overhaul already planned for just a few months away. Or was the plan for the line-wide overhaul (including the launch of the second book) being planned for at this time with Claremont's original long-game storyline for the Shadow King? He and Lee supposedly had sketched out what they wanted all the way through UXM 300.

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    1. We know the second book was in the works, but I believe the lineups would have been vastly different if Claremont had stuck around and been allowed to follow his vision. I'm pretty sure the "Blue" and "Gold" teams were more Lee and Harras than Claremont. Observe this promo art for X-MEN #1 by Lee, showing a completely different lineup, for example.

      So we could've had an X-MEN lineup featuring Storm, Wolverine, Rogue, Forge, Beast, Psylocke, Jubilee, and Guido. If X-Factor had returned to the fold, by process of elimination we might imagine an UNCANNY team consisting of Cyclops, Jean, Iceman, Archangel, Colossus, Banshee, and -- Gambit? Seems odd he'd be there given his ties to Storm, but who knows what Claremont's plans were?

      There's also promo art from Lee showing beefed up Lorna Dane in a generic X-uniform, so she might've made the cut someplace too, as I believe the roster for the next iteration of X-FACTOR was up in the air based on statements I've seen.

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    2. Instead it looks like Lee got to pick all the most popular characters at the time. As a kid the Blue team was stacked compared to the Gold team.

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    3. Yeah, I've always thought UNCANNY looked like "the leftovers" compared with the X-MEN lineup. Which is kind of a sad commentary on Storm post-Claremont, considering she was, after Wolverine, pretty much the highest profile X-Man during the eighties.

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    4. I always questioned Scott and Jean being on different teams. I tried rationalizing it to myself and really really hard ignoring Reed and Sue as obviously contrary evidence.

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    5. As per this article on uncannyxmen.net, one early idea was as follows:

      "According to Amazing Heroes #188, early plans consisted of Cyclops, Rogue, Psylocke and Iceman starring in Uncanny X-Men, and Marvel Girl, Storm, Beast, Wolverine and Gambit starring in X-Men vol.2. Professor X would lead both teams with assistance from Forge."

      No mention on Colossus, Archangel, or Banshee...

      Note also as per the article, he also gives an interview in Amazing Heroes #192, where things have changed to what we ended up getting, more or less.

      http://www.uncannyxmen.net/secrets-behind-the-x-men/x-men-and-x-factor-united

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  7. The leader of the Soviet forces working with Nick Fury in this story had a son aboard the Leningrad, the Russian nuclear sub which Magneto sank in issue #150.

    Not perhaps the most professional choice for the leader of their forces, considering. Like, at all. He may have had to pull some favors to get the commission.

    I massively love them bringing the submarine Leningrad up, btw. UXM #200 was printed on the first and second X-book I ever read and due to the way the matter was brought up in Mag's trial it somehow has always been a very important piece of X-mythos to me. Though, for longest time I also thought Mutant Alpha was a very big deal in Marvel Universe, so...

    Also the great thing in Claremont for making people care for the littlest characters is shown in one page where it is made obvious that Barbarus and Whiteout have some sort of mutual understanding between themselves, in a no-underlining way. Though, such pairing resonates with Scalphunter/Arclight, and to lesser extent (the at least hinted) Sebastian Shaw/Emma Frost, so not the most original idea. His female villain leaders tend not to fraternize with their lieutenants in similar fashion.

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    1. Regarding the choice of the Soviet leader, it's possible that SHIELD only knew about Zaladane and not Magneto.

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  8. X-Men (vol. 2) 1-3 are ok, but this storyline, to me is Claremont's real "swan song." It had a GREAT showing of Magneto.

    There are some a few compalints though. First of all, for you guys on the sexploitation watch: note Rogue's pose (in her makeshift jungle-kini, natch) on the cover of of #274, where he back is arched and her butt is sticking out and her hand is getting all sick and sexified on Magneto's chest. That jut makes her look like the damsel-in-distress of some trashy romance novel, not like a capable heroine of some action-packed adventure.

    This also ties into the bigger annoyance of this arc, and that's the start of the Rogue/Magneto romance. Ugh! First of all, don't let the plastic Surgery by Dr Jim Lee fool you: there is quite an age difference here. (Imagine, say Ian Mckellen getting frisky with Anna Paquin, and you can kinda see the problem here.) Furthermore, part of what makes Rogue's upcoming relationship with Gambit fun is that Rogue retains her "sassiness" in the face of Gambit's skeevy "charm" (and yes, i fully acknowledge that there are problems with THAT relationship as well.) However with Magneto Rogue seems more...deferential somehow. Magneto has a bit too much of an authoritative presence. Can you imagine Rogue telling off Magneto for violating her trust and principles? (ok she KINDA does in this arc, but in a much less vehement way then she does with Gambit.) To me, Rogue loses a bit of her "spunk" when she's around a much older, more experienced lover. (And Jim Lee-ification and de-aged retcon notwithstanding, I REALLY don't see Magneto's wrinkly old-ass as some barrel-chested hunk desired by the ladies.)

    Another problem is that the main villain (Zaladane) is just not that interesting. She's just a one-note supervillainess here, which kind of defuses the central poignancy of whether to kill her. The insuring drama with the Russian commander is much more engaging. That, to me, is where the REAL pathos of Magneto return to villainy lies. Zaladane comes across as such a 'fill-in-the-blanks" foe in this story.

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    1. de-aged retcon

      Well I never. The defence's claim in #200 that according to medical experts he was a man in his early 30's was a retcon then? I gotta say Cockrum (and everyone) drew him as advanced in his years, though there was some lip service in #104 about his newly-found vigor. What does it mean for a man of his years that "Magneto is a grown man again"? Maybe early 30's wouldn't cut it.

      Personally I found it more a pro than con that a young woman like Rogue finds herself in a completely different place as relationship dynamics go with a grown man with Mag's baggage than with a flirtatious cajun of whom you can't be at all sure how seriously he should be taken in the first place. She is also coping with a loss of her Ms. Marvel powers which, considering how harsh she had it in Genosha the last time, may make her tone down the spunk a bit, AND coping with the loss of her own powers too, which means that actually consummating a relationship is also an option now (in which regard btw I'm highly suspicious about Gambit, whom I consider to be an all-talk man deliberately picking the one girl he most conveniently can't with, and let her blame it all on herself, like he really was a ten years old with sinister intentions and an age-appropriate fear for girl germs).

      Of course that all can mean there seems to be a nasty undercurrent of sexploitation as a constant element of the Rogue power loss plots, but I suggest anyone on sexploitation watch should keep two eyes firmly on Worm and Brainchild, the latter of which is already skeevy in this issue and the former already was in the previous story judging from Psylocke's reaction then.

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    2. Rogue and Gambit started out fun, but very soon became buried in an avalanche of non-stop angst relationship drama, which got very tedious, very fast.

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  9. "Jim Lee receives sole plotting credit on this issue, with Claremont only credited with the script. Which seems odd, given that the overall plot of this issue seems designed to wrap up (or at least continue) the Zaladane/Savage Land arc from issues #249-250."

    I swear, the story of what was happening backstage at the X-offices at this point in time was just as juicy as what was happening in the comics...

    "The Rogue/Magneto romance"

    As much as it kind of comes out of nowhere, CC and Lee make it work.

    "Just for funsies, here's a comparison of the last three years' worth of Statement of Ownership numbers:"

    I'm surprised a bit by these numbers, in that we don't really see the huge jump in sales figures to justify Harras handing the keys to kingdom to Lee...and it's not like it's a huge decrease in sales during the non-team era.

    Overall this is a good, solid issue, with CC and Lee firing on all cylinders. Rogue's outfit (or lack of one) is a bit grating and over-sexualized, even by comic book standards (You expect the girls to pop out at some point). They least rectify that somewhat next issue, though.

    All in all, this is a nice progression in Magento's story-arc, one of the best arcs CC did, and some the best work Magneto has received. And credit also to the work he does with Rogue. Having her be the voice of reason and good for Magneto also shows how far she has progressed as a character as well.

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    1. You're right about Rogue. Could go either way with the intentionality of it, but there's the founder of the original Brotherhood of Evil Mutants getting justly lectured by the youngest lapsed member of the later incarnation.

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    2. Actually, a further thought: Rogue is, just like Mags, a person whom neither the way of Evil Mutant any more than Xavier's dream has brought to anything, if we understand post-Siege Perilous Rogue as an ex-X-man at this point. Or maybe that's at least Mag's read of the situation even if not Rogue's own. They are kind of in the same place, but their subjective perceptions of it is different, and maybe Mags is calling Rogue into his perception as much as Rogue is calling him to hers. Stupid sexy Magneto.

      There wasn't much exploration why Mags chose to save Rogue and not Carol Danvers. The obvious reason would be of course that she's a mutant while Carol isn't, but could it be that Mags saw her as a reflection of himself, as someone haunted by the act of her evil villain times and somehow more saveworthy than her once-victim. Who is also only a residue, but does Mags know that?

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    3. I think at the end of the day, Magneto sees Rogue as a former comrade, unlike Carol. He never interacted much with the real Carol, and wasn't around much for Rogue's mental problems/Carol taking over her mind shenanigans. Unlike the other X-men, he probably had no real attachment to the Carol persona in Rogue's head.

      And Rogue wouldn't be an ex-X-man at this point, she'd probably be classified as MIA. Jean even lists her, along with Dazzler and Longshot, as missing people they should be searching for in #273.

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    4. I meant an ex-X-man in her on perception, or that of Mag's. She's been pretty out of things after SP, has no idea where, if anywhere, the X-Men are after #247, and certainly can have no idea that there are post-X-TA X-Men missing her. As for Mags, he's been hanging out in here... since when? He's been completely off from the X-Men world in his Acts of Vengeance adventures, does he even have idea that the X-Men didn't die in FoTM? Of course, Rogue apparently getting better would hiccup that idea.

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    5. I figure that it was to Carol being Shadow King's medium, not Rogue. In battle with the King, Magneto knew killing Carol would cut him off. Killing Rogue would not have accomplished that.

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    6. Why would she be in either perception? Upon her return, she calls out for the X-men once she arrives back at the Outback base. And she doesn't really have time ponder it all since she spends most of the issue being chased by either the Reavers or Carol Danvers, or surviving the Savage Land. At most, she'd be curious as to where the X-men are since the Reavers are now occupying the Outback base. That is a lot crammed in one issue, so we can't gauge for sure whats going on in Rogue's mind.

      As for Magneto...seeing Rogue alive probably does clue him in that its possible the rest of the team isn't dead. And its just as possible that she clued him in to what happened to her and the X-men from FOTM up til she goes into the Siege Perilous off-panel. I mean, this is only the second issue we have where Rogue is back and with Magneto. Who knows what they discussed off-panel during # 270 to 273?

      Its also possible Fury updated both of them off-panel to what happened with the X-men in Genosha recently, even if many holes need to be filled (like what happened to Longshot or Colossus). And Dazzler had a pretty public return, so he could have filled her and Magneto in on that as well. Hell, depending on how isolated Magento is or isn't in the Savage Land, its possible he may have had access to some of that info himself. We'll never really know since CC either didn't have enough time or chose not to have Rogue and Magneto focusing on the rest of the X-men.

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    7. The timeline of things as I gathered is that she gets resurrected, wonders whence X-Men like you said, fights Carol to near-death and finds herself saved by Magneto. After that she spends undisclosed amount of time in the Savage land with Magneto, without her powers and, and at least long enough for Magneto to note that her recovery is much slower than he had anticipated. This is the time period when the larger dynamics, and romantics, develop between the two, and as Claremontian characters have certainly had lengthy internal monologues in the meantime. Rogue has had plenty of time to ponder her future in the ranks of the X-Men now that she's rendered powerless and all. Nick Fury they'll meet only afterwards, late in this issue.

      And anyway, it only kind of mirrors where Magneto is at this point. But I'm starting to think they'd really make a nice couple. A fun notion is that unlike the old guard X-Men Rogue has never fought Magneto as a villain at this point. I'd think even Havok and Dazzler have at some point.

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  10. I'll join in on the love for this issue. I feel like when people talk about Claremont's Magneto, this is the issue they are really talking about. True, Claremont established the Holocaust background and turned him good in the mid-to-late 100s, but I feel like this is the issue where we really get to see his internal struggle defined.

    And I'm with John F. on Lee's version being the definitive Magneto for me. Ian McKellan was good, but in my head I always picture Magneto as more of a late 80s/early 90s Rutger Hauer, probably due to Lee making him more physically imposing.

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  11. The discussion here also points to other minor "controversy" of the issue. Notice that no one is really talking about the OTHER portion of the issue, which involves the X-Men being transported into space. Now i know the Magneto/Rogue storyline occupy the lion share of space here, but it's still there as anticipation of a new escapade (and the issue even ENDS on the "shocking twist" of a boobalicious Deathbird waiting for them, a fact that thst not even mentioned in the plot wrap up.) I mention "controversy" because how much (if any) time should be devoted to grand space X-adventure has always been a subject of debate among X-fans (AND editorial, since this is one of the things Bob Harras reportedly wanted to get rid of in his "back-to-basics" approach.) I think Harras basically reasoned that the space ventures move too far away from what's suppose to be the general concept of the X-books and are an ill-fit for the team. Meanwhile, there is the argument that the x-books need space adventures as a much needed break from the "They will always hate us" theme, which, to some can get preachy and overbearing without just straight superheroics (and space exploration is usually the "go-to" place for these epic yarns.) I'll admit straight up, i usually fall in agreement with the former (I'll put on my "Team Mutant Angst" t-shirt, now), but a part of me can understand what the "other side" is coming from.

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    1. The "X-Men in space" bit here is merely a three-page teaser/cliffhanger that might generate some buzz if we were reading it real-time, but as we all remember how it will unfold it'll be just rude to go jumping the gun with that before Chief X-Aminator Teebore gets to have his say on it.

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    2. Interesting, I wasn't aware of any "controversy" angle. For my part, I LOVED the upcoming space story--the upcoming fold-out cover being one of my all-time favorites--and I viewed it in some ways as a return to some of the older tropes that the X-Men used to partake in. (I never knew Jim Lee was a "classicist" in this regard at the time, but it makes perfect sense.) It also seemed like the prevalence of the "space" theme in the Dark Phoenix saga, Brood saga, and the original Shi'ar story would sort of grandfather it in as an accepted X-Men trope.

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    3. "Controversy" might be too strong of a word. Lets just say there is a healthy debate among fans about what constitutes what an X-men story is and should be, and whether the team's various adventures in space count as "real" X-men stories. Of course, people debate the same thing about the Dracula stories or the Argon stories or stories set in the Savage Land or...etc. Basically anything that doesn't involve the X-men as a persecuted minority.

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    4. Encouraged by John F's proclamation, as a little teaser of my own I'll say that on my part I strongly dislike the upcoming space story, though I find those previous ones mentioned by him wholly acceptable (stop the presses: an X-fan approves DPS!).

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    5. Hm...I look forward to reading the recap to the upcoming space story, then! I freely admit, the foldout cover, Jim Lee art, and new uniforms--ok, let's just say that foldout cover--may have swayed my opinion. (I had the poster of it back in the day, and still have it rolled in a tube somewhere.) I actually barely remember the actual story! I just remember liking the concept that Professor X was back, fully-abled, and even had a mysterious new identity/costume. Other than the art, though, I'm not sure it will hold up to the previous, iconic space stories.

      As for "proper" X-Men stories, I guess I never got too bothered about the different types of stories. The Savage Land, space stuff, and whatever else just seemed like more stuff in the stew--everything had already been done at least once by the time I was reading. And to be honest, considering the current state of the title(s), I think mixing it up with some good old-fashioned adventure/space stuff could do it some good.

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  12. Deathbird is mentioned in the plot wrap up.

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    1. Oops (I did it again.) I swore i reread everything a couple of times to see if any mentions were there. I can't believe i missed them (especially since they were accompanied by a particular Jennifer-Love-Hewitt-esque image of Lila Cheny.) I apologize for that error. I still think the rest of my ramblings still has sone validity, though.

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  13. I wish the whole issue had been devoted to the Savage Land plot. That end sequence feels grossly shoehorned-in. Even in the meat of the book, Claremont’s first-person narration for Magneto totally outclasses the other characters’ generic dialogue.

    // as Rogue wakes Magneto from a nightmare and he finds himself attracted to her //

    Hard not to think back to Storm feeling a similar not-so-literal magnetism as she approached a sleeping Magneto in #150 — and not to wonder whether Claremont’s subconscious was serendipitously repeating that scene (if he wasn’t outright intentionally doing so) given how the next issue, based on recent comments here, apparently provides a truer farewell than does the launch of the coming new series to the more fleshed-out, reinterpreted Magnus whom Claremont began crafting those 125 issues ago…

    Magneto says he’s “pledged to another,” which is presumably Lee Forrester (who hasn’t been seen in forever), but the salient point is that his tragic past has left him to continue with the woeful “as much as one can pledge a heart full of ghosts.”

    It’s way less cool to see Magneto clothing himself in his trademark gear when he does it from the top down and his feet are still bare.

    Fury’s shoulder patch as seen on the cover has an S inside it that looks uncomfortably like those in the Nazi SS emblem, and the Nazis also used an eagle not unlike this, which’d be disconcerting at any time but is of course particularly so given Magneto’s backstory. I’m not intimating any kind of active intent or passive ignorance on Lee’s part, mind you.

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  14. I remember sitting in a tiny conference room at the Motor City Comic Con in 1990, packed with people waiting to hear the big announcement about the upcoming X-men event.

    The original five members were coming back to the team, and Marvel was creating a second title, called X-men.

    Holy mother of god!!! That had to be the most exciting comic book news of my entire life (up until then at least).

    PS: Judging by the current schedule of the MCCC, that would be October 1990 earliest, or May 1991 at the latest.

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