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Wednesday, November 8, 2017

X-amining X-Men (vol. 2) #25

"Dreams Fade"
October 1993

In a Nutshell
Magneto rips out Wolverine's adamantium, and Professor X erases Magneto's mind.

Writer: Fabian Nicieza
Penciler: Andy Kubert
Inker: Matt Ryan
Letterer: Bill Oakley
Colorist: Joe Rosas
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
The execution of the Magneto Protocols by the UN Security Council prompts Magneto to strike back by triggering a massive electromagnetic pulse that wipes out power across the planet, killing hundreds. In the wake of the attack, Professor X decides that Magneto has gone too far, and dons a Shi'ar exoskeleton that enables him to walk in order to lead a strike team against him. Teleporting onboard Avalon, the strike team is surreptitiously helped by Colossus, and they take control of Avalon's systems, allowing the X-Men to teleport Exodus & the Acolytes off the base before confronting Magneto. During the fight, Xavier & Jean attempt to use Magneto's memories of past tragedies against him while the rest of the force engages him physically, but when Wolverine lands a nearly-lethal blow, Magneto retaliates by using his power to remove the adamantium from Wolverine's bones and rip it out of his body. Horrified, Xavier responds by telepathically wiping Magneto's mind, to ensure he'll never be a threat to anyone again. Just then Colossus appears, telling his former teammates that their battle has damaged the teleportation systems, but that he has summoned Bishop to pick them up with a modified Blackbird. He suggests they leave quickly, but vows to stay behind to take care of the now-mindless Magneto.

Firsts and Other Notables
Two events of deep significance occur this issue. First, Magneto uses his power to forcibly strip the adamantium from Wolverine's bones, leaving the character near death (an action that was somewhat foreshadowed both by Magneto's attack on Cable in X-Force #25 and Cyclops warning Wolverine to stay out of the fight in Uncanny X-Men #304). He will recover, of course, but this marks an extended period of time in which the character will be without his signature adamantium bones and claws (he will eventually get ti back, of course, but to Marvel's credit, he goes much longer than anyone expected without it), and leads to his departure from the team, making this the last issue of X-Men that Wolverine will appear directly in until #40 (and then not appear regularly in either series until after "Age of Apocalypse"), which easily represents the longest period of time since Wolverine joined the team that he won't appear in either X-Men title. Of course, the character isn't gone from the franichise entirely for that duration, but as of this issue, he'll go from appearing in roughly 2.5 books a month, at least (Wolverine, X-Men, and Uncanny) to just one.


The second big event comes when Professor X, in retaliation for the attack on Wolverine and desperate to put a stop to Magneto's threat once and for all, telepathically wipes Magneto's mind, leaving him in a vegetative state and effectively removing the character as an active agent just one issue after his official return from the dead. Of course, he's not dead, and will occasionally appear on Avalon, essentially in a coma, off-and-on until after "Age of Apocalypse", at which point a young man bearing a resemblance to Magneto named Joseph will appear and shortly thereafter everyone will decide he's a de-aged, amnesiac Magneto (though that will, ultimately, turn out to not be the case, in true 90s fashion). Nevertheless, like Wolverine, it will be some time before Magneto appears again in a traditional sense.


The act of mind-wiping Magneto is also, retroactively, the point at which Onslaught, the villain at the center of the X-Men's linewide crossover two crossovers from now and responsible for the brief deportation of the Avengers and Fantastic Four from the Marvel Universe during the ill-fated "Heroes Reborn" venture, is created, as a chapter in that story takes the thematic subtext that Professor Xavier's dark side was strengthened by his actions in this issue and makes it text by establishing that, while mind-wiping Magneto, a bit of Magneto's villainous essence, in the form a black impish figure, leaped from Magneto's mind into Xavier's, taking root there and combining with Xavier's already-repressed darker impulses to manifest as Onslaught.

With Magneto left in a vegetative state, Colossus, feeling partially responsible because he allowed the X-Men to sneak aboard Avalon and kick out the Acolytes, declares that he will remain on Avalon to care for Magneto as he failed to do for his sister, somewhat sanding off the edges of Colossus' decision in Uncanny X-Men #304 to throw-in with the murderous Acolytes (it doesn't change the fact that he made that decision, but at least now, it can be said he's remaining amongst the Acolytes in part to care for Magneto as a sort of penance for his (perceived) failure to save Illyana.


Xavier dons an exoskeleton suit of Shi'ar tech that enables him to walk in this issue. It's one of those "if he has this, why hasn't he used it before?" kind of plot developments, but in defense of it here, it requires a considerable exertion of his telepathic powers to function (making it less useful on a day-to-day basis), and Xavier suddenly having random tech that enables him to walk that is never seen again is something of a tradition (see also: his Silver Age leg braces). If we're being charitable, we can also assume this suit incorporates some of the design elements from the anti-Magneto suit in X-Men Unlimited #2, the specs of which Storm stole in Uncanny #305, though that's never explicitly confirmed.


Xavier assembles a six person strike team (including himself) to attack Avalon, comprised of Jean, Quicksilver, Rogue, Gambit & Wolverine. Jean is there to help boost Xavier's powers, Quicksilver & Rogue because they possess speed & strength as well as emotional connections to Magneto (a nice acknowledgement of the Rogue/Magneto pseudo-romance that will get resurrected during "Age of Apocalypse" and later with Joseph), and Gambit & Wolverine ostensibly for stealth reasons. The latter two are the most questionable additions. Gambit is fine, I guess, but it's not like a whole lot of thieving is required on the mission. Wolverine, a man whose body contains a whole bunch of metal, is a ridiculous inclusion for a team meant to confront the Master of Magnetism, but of course, he needs to go along so Magneto can rip out his adamantium (what's the opposite of Plot Armor? Because Wolverine is wearing it here). Objectively, the easy sub here is Psylocke, who would both boost the team's telepathic power while also providing the element of stealth and fighting prowess provided by Gambit & Wolverine.


Again, if we're being charitable, it could be argued that Xavier's inclusion of Wolverine, outside of it being necessary for the big shocking event of this story to occur, is meant to represent a further failure of judgement on his part: he wanted the team's best fighter with him, and was so eager to confront Magneto he failed to think through what a drastic miscalculation bringing Wolverine into battle against Magneto would be (Cyclops at one point in the issue even points out Xavier's lack of tactical field experience; Wolverine, of course, would never think to NOT participate in a fight with stakes as high as this one). Indeed, in some of the run-up to "Onslaught" will have Xavier dealing with his guilt over what happened to Wolverine, though that being explicitly tied to his decision here never really happens.

It's revealed here that the government's Magneto Protocols are, in part, a series of satellites which create an energy web around the planet, designed to keep Magneto from using his powers while on Earth (of course, he just triggers an EMP from just outside the protective field created by the satellites). It is framed as a specifically defensive move intended to keep Magneto out, but it enrages him in part because it prevents him from bringing more mutants to sanctuary on Avalon.


Said electromagnetic pulse is said to kill hundreds, if not thousands (as a result of stuff like hospitals and pacemakers losing power), making it Magneto's most deadly direct attack since the sinking of Leningrad in Uncanny X-Men #150.


As the effects of the blast are shown around the world, a couple of panels create a chronology nightmare. First, we see that the EMP has interrupted Thing's shower, and he complains to Mr. Fantastic, with a footnote declaring this takes place before Fantastic Four #374. That is the issue in which Wolverine slashes Thing's face, causing him to wear a 90s-riffic full-face helmet (to match Mr. Fantastic's then-current pouch vest and Invisible Woman's sexy costume) for a good chunk of time. Except, when Wolverine slashes Thing's face, he does it with the adamantium claws he loses at the end of this issue. And this scene can't get moved back to after Thing's face heals, because when that happens, Mr. Fantastic is presumed dead (for a good chunk of time).


Similarly, but much more egregious, Nightcrawler & Captain Britain are shown reacting to the pulse, despite the fact that Captain Britain is lost in the timestream, an event which happened at the start of a story that ends with Kitty leaving to attend to Illyana in Uncanny X-Men #302, setting it fairly explicitly before this story. And Captain Britain's absence is discussed in Excalibur #71, the final chapter of "Fatal Attractions", which is set after this issue, so this can't take place at some later point in time after his return (that would also be complicated for other reasons). Considering that, at this point in time, Excalibur is part of the X-office (and Captain Britain's departure occurred after that transition), it's a pretty big editorial fail. For what it's worth, the Marvel Chronology Project simply ignores Captain Britain's appearance here.


We also see Sunfire being hit by the EMP blast, and it's heavily implied that he dies as a result, but he turns up alive and well in his next appearance without comment, so he didn't.


Rusty & Skids are the only Acolytes the X-Men encounter directly in this issue (aside from Colossus), and Nicieza briefly acknowledges their history with Jean by having her speak up in their defense and question their motives in joining Magneto; I always appreciate acknowledgements of stuff from the original X-Factor.


With Wolverine held for his own series and Magneto featured as the previous' chapter's hologram, Gambit gets the hologram honors for this issue's gatefold "Fatal Attractions" cover (I'd have gone with Xavier, probably, but he doesn't pay the bills like Gambit does, I guess...).


Creator Central
Matt Ryan joins the regular art team as inker this issue, and gets a welcome aboard message on the letters page.

Continuing the 30th Anniversary vibe, the title page contains a dedication to past X-Men creators, despite few of them working on this specific X-Men book.


A Work in Progress
Prior to his attack on Earth, Magneto & Exodus explicitly make the "becoming another Hitler" point, with Magneto coming to terms with risking that comparison to protect mutants.


Forge pulls the trigger (ie presses the button) that activates the Magneto Protocols, for what it's worth.

Cyclops, Jean Grey and Beast recite a series of "corny" quotes, allegedly things Professor X would always say/teach, though we haven't really ever heard these specific lines before (but the open hand/closed fist one tracks with Xavier's discussions with Cannonball in X-Force #19).


The X-Men apparently have a teleportation array straight out of Star Trek that enables them to beam onto Avalon (the corresponding systems on Avalon are damaged during the fight, prompting Bishop to fetch the strike team in a Blackbird). Like Xavier's walking suit, this never really gets used again. Unlike that suit, we don't even get a halfassed explanation for that.

Upon arriving on Avalon, the X-Men's presence is masked by Colossus, showing sympathy for his former teammates. This action, which leads in part to Magneto's condition, is also cited as part of his motivation for staying behind to care for the man.


Once again, we're reminded that Avalon contains Shi'ar tech presumably taken by Magneto from the mansion (along with, of course, all the Celestial, Apocalytian, and futuristic tech purloined from Graymalkin).


One of the memories Xavier & Jean use against Magneto is the death of Doug Ramsey, and amongst all the "Magneto stole Shi'ar tech!" business, it's nice to have something reinforcing the fact that Magneto, as headmaster of the New Mutants, genuinely cared about them and his role as their mentor/protector.


Xavier likens Magneto's betrayal by Cortez in issue #3 to his belief that his children have betrayed him as well.


He later references Magneto's sinking of the Leningrad in Uncanny #150, explicitly drawing a line between that event, the last time Magneto was shown to be directly killing people in large numbers, to his EM attack in this issue.


Xavier, just before mind-wiping Magneto, argues they are both failures: Magneto, for failing to change his ways, and Xavier for failing to recognize that and letting their friendship prevent him from putting a stop to Magneto once and for all.

Unlike Uncanny X-Men #304, Xavier refers to Magneto mostly as "Magnus" rather than "Erik" in this issue, though Magneto's full name is referenced, so it's not like Nicieza was unaware of the change or anything.

The Grim 'n' Gritty 90s
While the US president is not shown or explicitly identified in any way, Russian president Boris Yeltson and the then-recent collapse of the Soviet Union are name-checked during the issue's opening "executing the Magneto Protocols" scenes.

Artistic Achievements
At one point, Wolverine is said to have gravely wounded Magneto, but the art makes it look like he just cut his armor off. Whether that's an artistic error, or a result of someone not wanting a lot of blood being drawn in is unclear.


The Reference Section
As the strike team departs, Beast quotes from Aeschylus' Prometheus Unbound.


"Professor Xavier is a jerk!"
Aside from the whole "erasing Magneto's mind" thing, this issue is littered with questionable actions from Xavier as his desire to stop Magneto reaches Ahabian proportions (the literary character, not the Houndmaster from Rachel Summer's timeline). While Jean questions if it's possible that Rusty & Skids are being brainwashed by Magneto, Xavier doesn't have time to care, and just telepathically puts them to sleep in order to move on to bigger things.


Later, he instructs Jean to help him psychically attack Magneto by using his memories of past tragedies against him, something which Jean finds problematic, saying it goes against everything Xavier has taught her (presumably about how telepaths shouldn't go rooting around in people's minds unbidden and monkey with their memories). On the one hand, as Gambit points, this is a combat situation against one of the X-Men's deadliest foes, and Jean knew that when she signed on for this mission. On the other hand, Xavier is pushing some boundaries here, and it culminates in a pretty big violation of his principles.


It's in the Mail
A response to a letter declares that the X-Men movie is "in development". Which is where it will remain for roughly seven more years.

Austin's Analysis
This is effectively the climax of "Fatal Attractions" (with the next chapter dealing immediately and specifically with the aftermath of Magneto's attack on Wolverine, and the final chapter a denouement of sorts that ties up a few loose ends) and inarguably the best single issue of the crossover. It's not without it's flaws - the logic (or lack thereof) behind some of the members of the strike team, some occasionally overly-baroque scripting from Nicieza, and dodgy art from Kubert in places (he handles most of the big moments, but the overall flow of the major fight scene at the end gets muddied, with it unclear where characters are in space relative to each other) - but it's big on import, and incident, and that accounts for a lot in the climax of a big anniversary celebration crossover.

In terms of ramifications on future stories, it's hard to think of too many issues that shake things up as dramatically as this one does. It will be years, nearly to the end of the decade, before both Wolverine and Magneto are back to a status quo resembling where they were at prior to this issue. Removing Magneto from the board so soon after bringing him back may seem curious, but it makes a certain amount of sense: the character had grown so big in stature in-universe and external thematic importance during his absence, it would be difficult to leave him around as a perpetual threat. Shutting down his mind enables him to continue to exist as a martyr while keeping him in a position where he can more easily be brought back without leaving readers constantly wondering why the X-Men are doing anything other than fighting Magneto.

Removing Wolverine from the board, meanwhile, is straight-up bonkers, from a commercial perspective, and a rather daring creative move, especially in 1993 at, arguably, the height of the franchise's commercial prowess. It's even more mind-boggling now than it was then that Marvel would sign off on removing Wolverine from multiple titles for an extended period of time. At a time when Marvel had a successful animated series starring the X-Men on Saturday mornings, they just removed their bread-and-butter character from the comic books titled "X-Men". And while he will return to the team sooner than Magneto returns as a credible, consistent threat, it will be much longer (arguably too long) after that before the character returns to something entirely resembling his portrayal prior to this issue.

With this issue, Nicieza also manages to somewhat salvage Magneto's previous portrayal in Uncanny X-Men #304. As with other (non Uncanny #304) post-death appearances, he is a harder, more overtly-villainous Magneto than in his final Claremontian appearances, but he is also more in line with that isolationist take on the character. He attacks Earth, committing (explicit) mass murder for the first time since Uncanny X-Men #150, but he does it only after being provoked (that said provocation was, ultimately, a defensive measure, is of course part of the draw of Magneto's character: he's both not-right, and not-wrong). Where Uncanny #304 took pains to tarnish Magneto's time as headmaster, suggesting it was only a ruse to skip off with purloined Shi'ar tech, here Nicieza at least establishes that Magneto remains haunted by the memory of Doug Ramsey and his failure to protect him.

And in pushing Xavier to the limit, Nicieza bridges the gap between him and Magneto, hardening the one while softening the other. Reading this as a kid, the extent to which Xavier crosses the line here never really hit me (even with Xavier wiping out Magneto's mind). Jean is practically begging Xavier not to make her attack Magneto's mind in this way, yet he pushes on until he's nearly ranting himself. Though it wasn't even a half-formed idea in the mind of Scott Lobdell yet, a very direct line can be drawn from this issue to Onslaught (even without that story making said line head-shakingly literal). One of the better moments in Uncanny #304 came when Magneto challenged Xavier to walk his path, since Magneto had already tried walking Xavier's. Here, Xavier essentially does that, employing a savagery and "ends justify the means"-ness on par with Magneto at his worst, not in defense of mutants, but to attack his old friend.

If you can't tell, I really dig this issue. As with Uncanny #304, nostalgia is a heavy factor there. I read this a ton as a kid (even, occasionally, vocalizing the sound effects and speaking some of the more momentous dialogue aloud), and like Uncanny #304 it felt huge at the time, and even moreo, like a seismic shift in the franchise (which it kind of was). Unlike Uncanny #304, this holds up a bit better today. Again, it's far from perfect and not without its faults, but the depiction of Magneto is more rationale and in keeping with his previous (non-Uncanny #304) appearances, and all those big seismic franchise-changing events are, ultimately, grounded in characterization. Claremont helped make the Xavier/Magneto relationship one of the core relationships of the narrative, and it's that relationship that is at the center of this issue's events, the relationship between two old friends, each pushed to their limits, each reacting by committing a horrible, and narrative-altering, act.

Next Issue
Tomorrow, the new MLF makes their move in X-Force #27. Friday, Excalibur's space adventure concludes in Excalibur #70. Next week, X-Men Annual #2.

Collected Editions




65 comments:

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    1. I’m sorry to disagree, but this issue is awful. It’s clear that the X-office only thought about the outcome (Wolverine’s Adamantium being removed), but had no idea how to lead to it. The choice of the X-Men who would lead the attack on Magneto is completely idiotic. Completely. Gambit is merely an agile, yet normal guy. He’s worthless in a fight against Magneto. Psylocke would have been just as bad had she joined the attack. She is a normal human, for all purposes.

      The best X-Men were left behind: Cyclops, Iceman and Storm. Unfortunately, the very ones who could have turned this issue into something truly memorable. Iceman for his tremendous powers. Could you imagine an encounter between Cyclops and Rusty after so many years? Rusty, like baby Christopher, is one of the main examples of Cyclops’s failure as a father like figure. Cyclops could have either brought him and Skids back, and fix their relationship and the wrong path they took, or could had been forced to face his failure as Xavier’s heir. In the case of Storm, it would have been wonderful to see her, who once had been so close to Magneto, deal with him, something which was missing in the Jim Lee drawn issues. She was the one who proposed Magneto to become White King along with her. She was the one who made the disastrous decision to fake the X-Men’s death that led Magneto to educate the New Mutants on his own. Both decisions can arguably be considered the main reasons that led him to return to villainous path. However, all is ignored. Storm, actually, has been a dead character since the departure of Claremont.

      In my opinion, Magneto should have removed Wolverine’s adamantium during his first appearance, to show that he meant business. Had this occurred there, a surprise attack on Magneto would have been understandable. From Magneto’s perspective, has he returned not as an insane villain, but as a man who felt truly betrayed by the X-Men, would had been perfect. They lied to him. They faked their deaths. They left him alone in charge of the New Mutants. His wards abandoned him. When the X-Men and Magneto met again (in X-Men #1), instead of a friendly meeting, they attacked him. Wolverine was one who went berserk on him (as Cyclops and Magneto noted at the time). Illyana’s death should had been the final break. It should had been Magneto’s moment to show that the X-Men failed. That the world hasn’t become better, that more and more Mutants are joining X-squads, as more villains show up. There is no peaceful coexistence, just a brutal mutant civil war from Magneto’s point of view. This should had been the moment in which Cable and the X-Force should have joined Magneto. They had already been arrested by the X-Men just a awhile before. This, instead of Colossus’ stupid defection, would had been the natural consequence of the former New Mutants’ evolution. There shouldn’t had been new Acolytes at all. They have no history not personalities.

      If what I said above had occurred, instead of this farsical event, things would had been wonderful. A truly new status quo. Even Liefeld would had been vindicated for having led the New Mutants into the X-Force path. I can even envision the White Queen awaken from her coma and joining Magneto as well. It would had been a full circle on everything Claremont and Simonson has created, but failed to deliver due to their removals. Instead, we had stupid Onslaught. Stupid Bastion. Stupid Zero Tolerance. Stupid Legion’s Quest. Stupid The Twelve. Stupid RessureXion.

      Im telling you: instead of a crazy villain, a true anti-Xavier. A leaded of a true “other” mutant faction.

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    2. That would have been... freaking awesome.

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    3. In regards to the team selected, they did try to explain that the others weren't selected due to being (per Cyclops) high-octane energy wielders. And as they were going to a HQ in space could be disastrous if one of their powers accidentally breached the walls.

      That said, your outline brings to light the biggest issue I had with 90s comics: it's complete disregard of continuity when it comes to personal history. The points you highlighted with regards to what should have been Magneto's anger are well thought out. And would have had enormous personal/emotional payoff in addition to the OMG moments they were aiming for. Say what you will about Claremont, but he often rooted 'big' moments into logical, emotional character beats. That seemed to be entirely lost when he left...and I felt not really reclaimed until Matt Fraction and Kieron Gillen were writing the title in the mid-2000s. Which is ironic, because what made the X-titles such a publishing behemoth was the personal connections Claremont (and to a much lesser extent, Simonson) brought to the titles.

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    4. The best X-Men were left behind: Cyclops, Iceman and Storm.

      As J. Mays mentioned, the story accounts for this, explaining how energy wielders like Cyclops wouldn't be terribly useful in a battle on a space station (something Nicieza later shows us when Holocaust blows the place apart during his battle with the Acolytes). Similarly, Storm's usefulness is limited within the smaller, more manufactured atmosphere of a space station, with a stray lightning bolt or two running the risk of damaging a critical system.

      Iceman would have made a good Gambit replacement, especially since he's one of the five that have been fighting Magneto the longest, but also remember, at this point in time, he's still starting to realize just how tremendous his power is. A full-powered Iceman in full control of his abilities would be pretty effective, but he's still not all that long removed from his main attacks being "protective wall of ice", "freeze his foe in place" and "throw ice projectiles".

      Could you imagine an encounter between Cyclops and Rusty after so many years?

      Well, we get one eventually, aboard Avalon, post "Age of Apocalypse". But I don't think very many people beyond you or I, then or now, care that much about Cyclops & Rusty's relationship.

      However, all is ignored. Storm, actually, has been a dead character since the departure of Claremont.

      This era does not serve Storm well, and I more or less said the same thing in my review of UNCANNY #305, which features one of the last halfway decent highlights for the character for years to come. Once the two teams got merged, she kinda got washed out, but at least she had leadership of the Gold Team to hang her at on. As those distinctions fade, she just becomes more and more generic.

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    5. @J. Mays: your outline brings to light the biggest issue I had with 90s comics: it's complete disregard of continuity when it comes to personal history.

      I don't disagree with this entirely, and it certainly gets worse as the decade goes on, but even using just this issue as an example, it's not completely lacking. I mean, the entire reason Rogue is on the strike team is because of her personal history with Magneto. The Magneto's betrayal of his friendship-turned-enemies-turned-tentative-allies with Xavier is motivating much of Xavier's anger (and harsh tactics) as much as Magneto's murderous actions. Jean, the one member of the strike team to know Rusty & Skids from Adam, vouches for them, and objects to Xavier's casual dismissal of them. The death of Doug Ramsey and Magneto's guilt over that is a plot point. Even Magneto's attack on Wolverine seems partially motivated by him being personally upset that Wolverine would try to kill him, despite their shared experiences together (something also referenced in X-Men #1), though I admittedly may be reading that into their interactions myself.

      Regardless, did this issue/story miss some chances for further characterization/acknowledgement of personal histories? Sure. In particular, as Licinio mentions, not bringing up the close relationship between Storm & Magneto during his time as headmaster, and the role Storm's decisions in that era isolated and made vulnerable the New Mutants, is a missed opportunity. But at the same time, I just can't reasonably expect every issue/story to cover and spend time on every possible character permutation or name check every bit of past history between every character in the story, especially not with this many characters with this much history running around, even across multiple titles. Some characters are, inevitably, just going to be left out from time to time, even if their history/relationship with other characters gives them a bigger claim to the spotlight.

      (I mean, I could complain that Cyclops, the first X-Man, the bedrock of the team and heir apparent to the dream, spends most of the X-Men's 30th anniversary celebration doing bum diddly, but, whatever, he's had his time in the spotlight and will again). :)

      If anything, I think the current/modern era is MUCH worse in regards to acknowledging/referencing/using character history/continuity than even the 90s, with series being perpetually rebooted and every creator run feeling a thing unto itself, completely cutoff from what came before or after, picking and choosing what history it wants to reference and what it wants to ignore at the whims of the writer du jour.

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    6. I totally agree that the current era is the worst at completely disregarding continuity in order to make the each story arc TPB-ready. Which is a shame because, for me, the fun of getting back issues was seeing how they tied to the issue that referenced them. But then again, even when I was a comic newbie, I was OCD in obtaining back issues.

      But to address your point about how characters are going to be left out no matter what: I definitely understand your point and agree. I realize that every character is unable to be constantly front and center. My point was that this era of started the trend of foregoing previously established character or arc beats.

      Whereas previous arcs had logically built on what came before, this era seem to only focus on creating 'moments' out of thin air just to move units. And I just never bought the rationalization that continuity is 'too confusing or alienating' to new readers. But, as I mentioned, I was big nerd with wanting to read what came before so perhaps I'm biased.

      I should also clarify that I'm not saying all this in reference just to *this* particular issue. But many of Lincinio's 'what if' points made me realize just how many missed opportunities there were in this crossover and this issue in particular.

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    7. BTW, congrats on this thread! This is one of the longest ones I've seen here: clearly everyone (myself included) has *lots* of feelings about this issue. :)

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    8. Holy crap. Licinio Miranda - This is one of the best X-fan rewrites I've ever seen. This is perfect.

      Teebore: I don't think very many people beyond you or I, then or now, care that much about Cyclops & Rusty's relationship.

      Miles from the "Jay and Miles X-Plain the X-Men" pod is also an unapologetic Rusty fan.

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    9. In my mind, the X-Men canon goes from The (Uncanny) X-Men #1 (1963) to Alpha Flight/X-Men (the one by Claremont and Paul Smith. I mean it. Read it all and you’ll see that that end with Cyclops speaking to Rachel represents the best ending to the X-Men saga. Cyclops has just found out his wife was pregnant, further demonstrating that the X-Men’s lives indeed moved on. In fact, Cyclops in a happy marriage and with a son was the last time he was not broken as a character. Professor Xavier was still on Earth. Storm had realized that she was more than just her powers, that she didn’t need to make a deal with the devil (Loki) to be happy, a great contrast from the naive “goddess” who thought that her powers made her character as seen in Giant Sized X-Men #1. I could go on and on. I’m teling you: X-Men canon ends with that Alpha Flight/X-Men miniseries.

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  2. In the case of the X-Men, they should had split after this. Cyclops and Storm had been close friends, but since she grew a Mohawk, she changed. Their relationship deteriorated. She forced him to leave the X-Men. Remember how arrogant she was with him during the meeting on Inferno, and later immediately after X-Tinction Agenda. Upon the original X-Men’s return, all was forgotten. I think Magneto’s alliance with the X-Force should have led to a major crisis within the X-Men ranks. Cyclops would have felt the failure of not trying to find Rusty, of abandoning Rictor, Boom-boom and the others, just as he abandoned his son. When Xavier had the chance, whom he chose to succeed him, when he departed in Uncanny #200? Magneto. Not Cyclops. Immediately after, Cyclops is forced to leave the X-Men. Instead of becoming the new Xavier, leading the X-Men and tutoring the New Mutants, Cyclops saw his life turn for worse. It wasn’t the first time Xavier had abandoned him. Xavier had faked his death. His father the Corsair also abandoned him. Corsair could have returned to Earth to search for his children, to talk to his own parents, he never did (he claimed he thought Cyclops and Havok has died). But even after he learned of his children’s survival, he never cared to be near them, instead he chose to pursue endless adventures with his space friends. How different is Cyclops from his father? Not at all. He also abandoned his own family to pursue adventures with his friends (X-Factor). Magneto’s return should have led to Cyclops to rethink his entire purpose in life. He should have faced Xavier and Storm, and left with other X-Men to form a parallel group. I’m not talking about what happened after 2005, when he became an extremist and semi-villain. I’d like to have seen Cyclops trying to redeem himself. To repent on his errors, to show he was different from his fathers (Corsair and Xavier). He could even manage to draft Rusty and Skids, while the X-Force has just joined Magneto.

    What a wasted postential...

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    1. Man, you're killing it with the What Ifs! While as a kid I loved the idea of the X-Men and X-Factor re-joining and becoming one giant unified team, it also felt like a step backwards and not a logical progression (Editorial mandate, I'm assuming). To make the pieces fit you had to ignore a lot of backstory and just throw them together and hope everything worked.

      Remember how in the early All-New All-Different issues there was a huge emphasis on this team sucking because they were so new and Cyclops getting frustrated about it? The merger of the X-Men and X-Factor felt too smooth, it would've been nice to see some friction between the old and new guard, most of whom had never interacted together before.

      I think a lot of the status quo in the comics around this time was done to have some synergy with the cartoon. The cartoon could ignore a lot of past history to create their own continuity, but in the comics you don't have that luxury. So I felt around this time the writers had to not only keep the team vibe similar to the cartoon, but also deal with all this backstory that had to be shoved aside to merge together two teams in a soft re-boot of the franchise.

      I also realized a lot of my favorite characterizations from the 90s team came from the cartoon, not from the comics. Cyclops was less of a screw up and Storm came across as regal and powerful (Not as "The other strong girl" who took a backseat to Jean).

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    3. The main problem is that creators have no idea on what to do with Professor Xavier. They killed him, made him walk again, then exiled him to the space, then brought him back handicapped, then arrested him, made him hated by all for deceiving them, then killed him again, etc. Why something so complicated? Why not declare that professor Xavier decided to teach at Harvard? Or become a ful researcher at Muir Island? He would show up once and awhile, but for all purposes, he was retired and happy. Perhaps in the “What If” I envisioned, Cyclops would have replaced him as the main leader, and Storm would have become the field leader or have moved back to the Australian base with other X-Men, if the split truly occurred. Magneto would have become an antihero with Cable’s X-Force. Exodus would have the Acolytes and be an independent force, perhaps a true great villain, unlike the vague villain who never showed what he came for as occurred in real continuity. This could had been the real Mutant Wars crossover imagined years before. Having vague membership in the X-Men as it happened was a bad decision. In the end, many characters were left undeveloped. The storyline, with the sole exception of Age of Apocalypse was awful. Anyone remembers that time Rogue and some X-Men were in space during Madureira’s stint as artist? What about Joseph? All pointless. Cyclops at the mansion, Storm with a rogue team in Australia, Magneto and the X-Force as the “Extreme” group and the others as villains.

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    4. @Ian: The merger of the X-Men and X-Factor felt too smooth, it would've been nice to see some friction between the old and new guard, most of whom had never interacted together before.

      Yeah, the big problem there is that it came about at the behest of the future Image guys, and they had no interest doing that kind of a story; they just wanted to get down to telling the stories they wanted to tell, with the characters they wanted, a quickly as possible. So some interesting nuance/characterization opportunities got missed because we needed to get to the Upstarts and Omega Red ASAP.

      @Licinio: The main problem is that creators have no idea on what to do with Professor Xavier.

      Yeah, Xavier has been a problem even since the Silver Age, when he was killed off in order to make the X-Men stand on their own even more. Pretty much all the Xavier shenanigans since then, including the whole "World Tour" arc and all the various exiles and depowerings, stem from the fact that he's a super powerful character and it's difficult to write around the fact that he could probably just solve everyone's problems all by himself.

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    5. @Austin - I recall one of the big rifts between Jim Lee and Claremont was that Lee wanted to go back and re-visit all the cool old villains, while Claremont wanted to move in another direction. What I loved about Claremont's tenure was he allowed things to evolve and grow naturally so that new threats could take hold, instead of having the X-Men fight Magneto then the Sentinels then the Juggernaut every other month.

      So yeah, I'm thinking part of this merger between the teams was so that Lee and Portacio could do an X-Men story with pretty much any character they wanted. I always felt that Claremont wished he had Cyclops in the Outback era, and had to settle for Havok as a B-level substitute because Cyclops was off with X-Factor. And if you think about it, the Outback team was a really weird eclectic group of heroes that didn't feel like any type of X-Men, classic or otherwise.

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  3. I like this issue a lot, too. It’s not perfect but like you said, it is the best of the crossover. If you squint you can still see a little of the old Magneto, he’s just out of control now. And in fairness Claremont had him detonate a nuke in his last appearance, so it’s not like he was totally rational then either.

    One quick note: it’s been awhile since I’ve read this but I thought the idea was that the X-Men override Avalon’s teleportation system and use it, not that they have their own teleporter.

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    1. If you squint you can still see a little of the old Magneto, he’s just out of control now.

      Yeah, this Magneto certainly isn't Claremont's Magneto, even his final Isolationist Magneto, but he feels more like a logical extension of that character, a next step in his development, than the Magneto of UNCANNY #304 (I mean, death will change a person's perspective, and however benignly, the world's governments DID move against him...).

      I thought the idea was that the X-Men override Avalon’s teleportation system and use it, not that they have their own teleporter.

      Yeah, I think you're right about that. As Matt said, it basically requires the start and end points of the mansion and Avalon, rather than being a "take me anywhere" teleporter.

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  4. As the strike team departs, Beast quotes from Aeschylus' Prometheus Unbound.

    Actually,

    because of a phase I went through as a high school kid, I must note that Beast is in fact quoting Promotheus Bound, the first part of Aeschylus' Prometheus trilogy that is the only one available as somewhat complete work, with the two latter installments having been lost except for fragments. I have been suspecting Beast's mistake for years and years (because I still semi-remember the translated quote from a powerful scene in PB), but only now went and confirmed it. Unbound would be the pt. 2.

    What I never did know is that the "Now, play the insolent" quote by Magneto as he rips adamantium out of Wolverine is also from Prometheus Bound, and apparently from the same scene where Hephaestus, Kratos and Bia chain Prometheus into Caucasus.

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    1. I wasn't actually aware that there was a sequel to Promethus Bound. As you said, it was just left in fragments, so that explains my lack of knowledge.

      I always assumed that Nicieza made a mistake, and was thinking of Shelley's Promethus Unbound when he wrote that scene, when he meant to write Prometheus Bound.

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    2. That...is supremely cool. I had no idea. Looks like you're smarter than Beast. :)

      Also, I had no idea that Magneto's quote is also from the same play (frankly, I probably should have looked it up for this review...), which is a really nice touch by Nicieza.

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    3. I always thought Magneto and Beast quoting from the same play was pretty dumb, considering that Magneto wasn't there when Beast first quoted the line. It's a ridiculous coincidence.

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    4. I don't know, as an supposed adult its kind of obvious to me now that Mag's unreferenced quote might also be from the same source as the earlierly (mis)referenced quote by Beast. It's some kind of intentional meta by the creators of course because in-universe the coincidence doesn't make any sense, but me likey even if thematically Prometheus' rebellion against Zeus has zero connection to the story here. But, I read an amount of them Greek tragedies back in the day and reluctant Hephaestus chaining Prometheus under the watch of Zeus' henchmen Kratos and Bia always was my most favorite scene so there's that.

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    5. @Anonymous: Yeah, like Teemu, I chalk it up to creative license. I mean, no on on the station was there when Beast quoted the play (he did it as they teleported away).

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    6. Oh bloody hell:

      KRATOS
      Now have we journeyed to a spot of earth
      Remote-the Scythian wild, a waste untrod.
      And now, Hephaestus, thou must execute
      The task our father laid on thee, and fetter
      This malefactor to the jagged rocks
      In adamantine bonds infrangible;
      For thine own blossom of all forging fire
      He stole and gave to mortals; trespass grave
      For which the Gods have called him to account,
      That he may learn to bear Zeus' tyranny
      And cease to play the lover of mankind


      There's the namedrop at least. More than that, Beast quotes Hephaestus' answer to Kratos as an unwilling fellow traveller upon whom the task of binding Prometheus has befallen, while Magneto quotes Kratos' final taunt at Prometheus, "the lover of mankind", "betrayer of gods to humans".

      ... whose eagle-ripped liver famously has a healing power for Prometheus to live to suffer another day.

      I change my answer; it's thematic as hell.

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  5. Holy crap did I just nostalgia hard. While I loved Uncanny #304 at the age of 8 when it came out, this was by far my favorite issue of the crossover and probably my favorite issue of X-Men from the 90s (Rivaling Vol. 2 #1). And with this issue, Andy Kubert became my favorite comic artist, beating out Jim Lee (Who in my young mind was an absolute god.....It would be years before I discovered Andy and Adam's father Joe, who is really a true master of the comics medium). I haven't picked up this issue in maybe 15-20 years, but I still remember almost every panel clearly since I read this over and over again.

    Which brings me to some "Duh" moments from this comic - It amazes me that it took almost 20 years for Magneto to rip out Wolverine's skeleton. In the 70s you had both Wolverine and Colossus fighting Magneto, and aside from Magneto throwing them around or preventing them from moving he didn't really do much with these characters made of metal. Disabling Wolverine like this seems like something Magneto should've done in an early appearance, but the build-up makes it more impactful. It's also interesting that the other X-Man made of metal joins Magneto during this crossover.

    And not only do we have Wolverine getting destroyed by the X-Men's greatest villain, but we can arguably see this as an example of Magneto being a multi-faceted and nuanced character. His restraint in dealing with Wolverine shows he's not really a bloodthirsty killer and will only undertake drastic actions if provoked or in retaliation for something. The X-Men movies do a great job at showing that Xavier and Magneto are really friends beneath it all and want what's best for mutants, but Magneto is more tortured and extreme and hot-headed in his approach to things and that gets him in trouble. Magneto as the headmaster of Xavier's, until the retcon in #304, is the ideal "normal" Magneto, a guy who can care for students, while at the same time having this vibe that creeps everyone out because they don't know what will set him off and make him go nuts.

    And I'm laughing at the thought of having Wolverine in only one book per month. Now he's in about 20.

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    1. It amazes me that it took almost 20 years for Magneto to rip out Wolverine's skeleton.

      Right? It's such a "well, duh!" moment it's amazing it took this long. I think it's mostly an extension of the way writers started thinking about these powers differently - not better than their predecessors, just differently, with many more years of previously-written stories at their disposal. It's an extension of the whole "iron in the blood" thing, and not unlike how John Byrne made Invisible Woman arguably the most powerful member of the FF just by stopping and thinking through the full implications of her powers in a way nobody really had before.

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    2. I need to disagree with you here. Magneto’s powers were never this powerful. He could move metal around, which is what he did with Wolverine and Colossus before. In here, he actually transforms the adamantium from solid to liquid. Everyone became too powerful around this time. Nowadays, Wolverine has become ridiculous. Saw a panel of Deadpool and Old Man Logan being hit repeatedly by cars, trucks and airplanes and acting like it’s nothing. Just ridiculous

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    3. Magneto’s powers were never this powerful.

      That's true - he specifically is more powerful than powerful, as established in UNCANNY #304, as a result of his near-death passing through the Earth's EM field.

      Still, I doubt anyone in the past thought "hey, what if Magneto ripped out Wolverine's metal?" and then passed on the idea because the character hadn't previously been established to be powerful enough. Writers were constantly fudging power levels or writing around the, to fit the needs of any given story. I just don't think anyone was really considering taking Magneto's power that far that way back in the day.

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    4. Let's also not forget the opposite of power level fudging, where if a villain becomes a hero and joins a team then suddenly they're de-powered. I'm pretty sure they did this with Magneto when he was at the school.

      As far as a weaker Magneto ripping out Wolverine's skeleton, I'm sure it could've been done, if not just ripping it clean from his flesh. But I'm also assuming this was never done in the past because of the Comics Code, it would've been too gruesome for the 70s and 80s, but perfect for the X-TREEEEEME 90s.

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    5. If we’re going to knock power levels, let’s not forget that Magneto basically had magic in the Silver Age. I agree with Paul O’Brien on The X-Axis that the metal is “liquefied” because it probably wouldn’t make it past the Comics Code if Magneto was just tearing solid chunks out of Wolverine.

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  6. I really like this issue too. I read it a couple nights ago and was pleased by how well it holds up. Nicieza's writing gives the story all the gravity it requires, and after the stark-raving Magneto we saw in UNCANNY 304, he seems back to normal here. It's funny; in UNCANNY he kills exactly one person -- Senyaka -- and the moment feels totally out of character. Here, he kills tons of people and even attempts to murder his own son, but Nicieza has such a handle on Magneto that it all feels correct. This is Magneto -- my Magneto -- as I like him best. A sympathetic, but cold-blooded, terrorist. Plus there are some nice continuity touches throughout the story and Colossus is redeemed a bit as well, after his betrayal in the prior chapter, which is nice to see. (I don't know why he has red eyes throughout the issue, though. He's not a Decepticon.)

    I recall reading someplace that it was Peter David, at the prior year's X-Men writers summit while he was still on X-FACTOR, who suggested "Magneto rips out Wolverine's skeleton" as a joke idea for the next big crossover -- but everyone in the room loved it. David apparently thought the whole thing was stupid, but I don't see why. That's a genuinely great idea for a huge moment, and Marvel really runs with it for the next few years.


    "Removing Wolverine from the board, meanwhile, is straight-up bonkers, from a commercial perspective, and a rather daring creative move, especially in 1993 at, arguably, the height of the franchise's commercial prowess."

    Totally agree with this. That could never happen today. (Yeah, Wolverine's been dead for a while now, but Old Man Logan is out there being him anyway.) I assume a few things happened here: 1) Marvel creative still had some degree of sway versus the marketing department, who would apparently come to run things entirely before long, and 2) Marvel had enough confidence in the popularity of the X-Men that they felt the could pull this off -- and they were correct. I love this upcoming era of Wolverine-free X-Men. It feels so different. Add to this that I didn't read WOLVERINE at all back when this stuff was coming out, and for me, the character really was entirely gone until just before "Age of Apocalypse".

    "The X-Men apparently have a teleportation array straight out of Star Trek that enables them to beam onto Avalon (the corresponding systems on Avalon are damaged during the fight, prompting Bishop to fetch the strike team in a Blackbird). Like Xavier's walking suit, this never really gets used again. Unlike that suit, we don't even get a halfassed explanation for that."

    Based on Colossus's statement you noted, that the corresponding system was damaged, it seems to me that this is a Shi'ar transporter that can only beam them to another Shi'ar transporter. And since there aren't any other Shi'ar transporters on Earth, the fact that it's never used again makes sense.

    "While the US president is not shown or explicitly identified in any way..."

    He is identified as being "new" in the Oval Office, which would seem an indirect nod to it being Clinton, since this issue went on sale in the summer of '93, the year he took office.

    Lastly, there's a Claremontism you may have missed in this issue. As Professor X faces the reflections of X-Men in his war room on the splash/title page, the narration ("It begins... with an ending -- and perhaps -- the breaking of a man's heart. This man's heart. The heart of Charles Xavier...") is a direct lift of the opening narration from UNCANNY X-MEN #94 as Xavier faces the reflections of the new and old X-Men just before the old team departs. I've always thought that was a really nice tribute to Chris Claremont on Nicieza's part.

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    1. I don't know why he has red eyes throughout the issue, though. He's not a Decepticon.

      Yeah, that's a weird Kubert thing from around this time. Wolverine has red eyes in one panel in this issue, as does Xavier. At random red-eyed characters have popped up in a few places prior to this as well.

      I recall reading someplace that it was Peter David, at the prior year's X-Men writers summit while he was still on X-FACTOR, who suggested "Magneto rips out Wolverine's skeleton" as a joke idea for the next big crossover -- but everyone in the room loved it.

      I've read this a few places as well, though never in something I could actually source (usually other websites passing it along). My understanding is that David suggested as joke, in that, doing it would leave Wolverine as just a fleshy puddle of skin, so it was a joke because they could never kill the character like that, but that it got the gears turning in other writers mind. Because, technically, Magneto doesn't rip out Wolverine's skeleton here: he removes the adamantium from it, then removes the adamantium from his body. His skeleton stays in place, just stripped of the metal (which, of course, is necessary in order for the character to still be, you know, alive after this).

      That could never happen today. (Yeah, Wolverine's been dead for a while now, but Old Man Logan is out there being him anyway.)

      Yeah, Wolverine's "death" is the closest we've gotten to this since, though it does have the technicality of Old Man Logan keeping the character around. That said, I'm still honestly surprised Marvel has left the "real" Wolverine dead this long, even with Logan and X-23 around (similarly, I remain surprised it's taken this long for the "real" Jean Grey to return after Morrison killed her, even with young Jean having been running around for years now. I mean, she's been dead this second time almost THREE TIMES as long as the first time.

      Marvel had enough confidence in the popularity of the X-Men that they felt the could pull this off -- and they were correct.

      That's probably the big one - The X-books had enough sales clout that marketing/the Powers that Be were more comfortable letting them take a chance they may not have let a lesser-selling title take. At some point, you've got to give the group paying your bills some leeway. The key to creative freedom is to make all the money, or none of the money (which is pretty much how Claremont managed to stick around, doing whatever he wanted, for so long: he guided the series from latter to the former, and it wasn't until someone came along that the Powers That Be felt would maintain sales even without Claremont that he lost his power).

      He is identified as being "new" in the Oval Office, which would seem an indirect nod to it being Clinton, since this issue went on sale in the summer of '93, the year he took office.

      Yeah, though I threw in the "explicitly identified" because he's not called Clinton or Bill or anything like that, whereas Yeltsin gets name-checked directly.

      As Professor X faces the reflections of X-Men in his war room on the splash/title page, the narration ("It begins... with an ending -- and perhaps -- the breaking of a man's heart. This man's heart. The heart of Charles Xavier...") is a direct lift of the opening narration from UNCANNY X-MEN #94 as Xavier faces the reflections of the new and old X-Men just before the old team departs.

      That is also something supremely cool, and something I'm a little ashamed to have never noticed (I just always figured it was more of Nicieza trying to ape Claremont's prose, and doing a really good job of it, which, I guess, he was). If I ever get to turn these posts into a book and revise/update them in the process, that little tibit is getting mentioned. :)

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    2. "Yeah, though I threw in the "explicitly identified" because he's not called Clinton or Bill or anything like that, whereas Yeltsin gets name-checked directly."

      Oh, gotcha! For half a second I started wondering if they left him unidentified because the election hadn't happened yet when they were working on this issue, but I looked it up, and this one hit stands in August of '93. I know there's a good amount of lead-time in comic book scheduling, but it's nowhere near that long.

      "That is also something supremely cool, and something I'm a little ashamed to have never noticed..."

      I think I only noticed it because I had started to read back issues around the time "Fatal Attractions" took place. I probably read #94 (or rather a reprint thereof) right around the same time I read this issue.

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    3. I kind of like the idea that THE Wolverine was dead when THE Marvel Universe went unrecoverably belly up in that questionably named event of 2015, and that as a consequence he's technically forevermore unresurrectable in face of the trope that is known as the comicbook death... for which Jean Grey is the poster gal. She, Phoenix, the Life Incarnate; he, once Horseman Death.

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    4. @Teebore: // Magneto doesn't rip out Wolverine's skeleton here: he removes the adamantium from it, then removes the adamantium from his body //

      I have a distinct — but possibly erroneous — recollection that, early on, Wolverine’s entire skeleton was said to have been outright replaced with adamantium, piece by piece, save for his skull and whatever else was impossible to remove while he was still alive (even in the context of Marvel science) merely being encased with the stuff.

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    5. Yeah, I believe it was the intention of Claremont and Byrne that Wolverine's actual skeleton was made entirely of adamantium. Per Byrne, I think, it was Jim Shooter who declared that was stupid and compromised at his bones being bonded with the stuff. The earliest times Claremont references the adamantium, he literally calls it an adamantium skeleton, as I recall. It's only a few years later that he starts throwing around the term "adamantium-laced".

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    6. Thanks. Score one for the old man. 8^)

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  7. So apparently Jean has loved Logan ever since she first met him. Yeah, no.

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  8. It’s probably for the best Storm wasn’t there: it seems like every fight she’s been involved with against him, she defaults to lightning bolts which with her having the most versatile power sets and him being the “master of magnetism” doesn’t make much sense. You’d think she, Xavier or Cyclops would have figured out another medium of attack that doesn’t empower your enemy.

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    1. Cyclops did figure out another way! In UNCANNY 113, when the new X-Men have their rematch with Magneto following their earlier defeat and imprisonment, Cyke has her dehumidify the air around him while the rest of the team engages him with hit-and-run tactics to distract him from the fact that he's being dehydrated.

      That may have been the only time she ever did anything creative against him, though...

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  9. Remember when Jean was the biggest pooper in the 'Magneto-joining-the-X-Men' party? (Granted, Scott had an issue, but he did ally with Magneto several times) Her position here- touched by Magneto's sad memories, seeing the human inside the villain, she protests about using them as a weapon- is interesting.

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    1. Well, it is brutal that the very on-panel memories Xavier abuses are visibly holocaust-related. I can't help juxtaposing that to the #199 Holocaust memorial Magneto right before Xavier made him the schoolmaster.

      Though obviously I think that the actual Magneto died for good in X-MEN #3 and this one is essentially William "Stryfe" Maximoff, a "save" version of Silver Age villain Magneto created by Darker-Than-Scarlet Wanda, whose essence filled the lifeless husk of Magneto that crashed Earth with Asteroid M after getting discorporated in X-Cutioner's Song finale.

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  10. My problem with the line up that attacked Magneto was always a simple one:

    It should've been the original five.

    I mean, if you're going to not go with the obvious "send everyone we have up there for a battle royale" plan-which with the Plot Convenient Teleporters was a thing-then the most perfect way to climax the 30th anniversary story was to go back to the beginning. Magneto vs. the original X-Men. End at the beginning. But since this was 1993, you had to have the Cool characters there, and you had to have the Huge Status Quo change event (you have to remember, this was the period where Superman died and Batman broke his back, and Marvel wasn't about to not run with some of those too) so you get a team that only makes sense to tell this particular story, which even then, as a long time reader of the X-Men, I knew was a stupid one. Magneto had been tossing Wolverine around like a rag doll since the 1970s; being able to sneak around a space station in orbit didn't justify him being there.

    That being said, this is yards better than UXM #304, and holds up better today than that issue did. But man, this one is still one of my what could have beens for 1993.

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    1. "Removing Wolverine from the board, meanwhile, is straight-up bonkers, from a commercial perspective, and a rather daring creative move, especially in 1993"

      I'm with Jack here: debilitating Wolverine wasn't much of a creative decision, as evidenced by the fact that it was done very un-creatively. It was much more a marketing move designed to cash in on the Death of Superman and Knightfall gimmicks that had everyone talking at the time. It felt incredibly gimmicky and hacky then, and even more so in hindsight.

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    2. The sole thing I give the X-Office credit for was sticking with that as the new status quo for Wolverine, but getting there clearly was editorial doing the 1993 status quo shake up dance. That it lasted so long was pretty impressive, but that was writers making lemonade out of lemons.

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  11. One more thought: What I both love and hate about Magneto is how he can't be used very often. I love it because it builds mystery around the character and keeps the audience from getting fatigued by him, and when he does show up you know shit's about to go down. But I hate it because it means every time he shows up they have to find some way to keep him away until until next year (And as time went on, they kept sidelining him for longer and longer).

    This got really bad after X-Men #3. There he's presumably killed. Then he comes back in Fatal Attractions and gets mind-wiped. Then Joseph shows up but the real Magneto doesn't show up until about 98. Then he's sidelined. Then he becomes the ruler of Genosha and is killed during the Sentinel attack. Then he turns out to be Xorn. Then Wolverine cuts his head off. Then the next month Magneto shows up on Genosha and it turns out he wasn't Xorn at all. Then on and on and on (I stopped reading around 2005).

    Instead of keeping him fresh, it got fatiguing because you knew he'd end up being presumed dead and then coming back again in some weird way. And once you cry wolf with killing a character off enough times, people stop caring.

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  12. Magneto: I've killed thousands of people across the globe because the humans brazenly attempted to shield themselves from my tyrannical menace!

    Xavier: Alright, pal. Enough is enough. We need to talk. I'm coming up there.

    Magneto: After being almost killed by him, I've seriously injured a man who has been consistently established to be able to heal up just fine from almost any injury.

    Xavier: You maniac! How could you sink to such depths!? (essentially murders Magneto)

    ---

    Yeah, this all adds up just fine.

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  13. Huh. I wasn’t aware that Wolverine exited the X-Men team titles for so long after this.

    Maybe the Powers That Be, or Were, figured the anniversary had to include Magneto or maybe the creative teams just wanted to put their stamp(s) on him post-Claremont — most new writers on just about every franchise seem to want to tell a/the Definitive _____ Story in terms of some big origin reveal or key character interaction — but it feels weird for Magneto to be brought back only to be done away with again so quickly (not permanently, granted, whether his next revival was already being considered by the present creative teams or not). Your reasons why it made sense to have him reappear and be dispatched in this fashion, Teebore, are fine ones, except that keeping him apparently dead for a longer stretch in the first place would have served much the same function — unless the X-office was faced with a potential “use him or lose him” situation in which other editors could have laid claim.

    Also, while I’m happy to see Colossus’ defection mitigated even somewhat, the recognition that, yes, the X-Men needed to stop the Acolytes (or just be given a fighting chance or whatever the hell the point of him masking their entrance was — "Hmm... I'm still mulling it over so they might as well battle, maim, and potentially kill one another in the meantime") felt awfully fast given that however grief-stricken he may have been he didn’t exactly have blinders on when it came to Magneto and the Acolytes’ position on mutant/human relations and resolve to plow through any opposition.

    Why do Xavier’s viewscreens depict his selection of members for the strike team standing back-to-back like their grandparents want to see who’s taller?

    Did those panels splicing Cyclops’ and Gambit’s faces (which is a common sort of juxtaposition in comics, to be sure) prompt any “third Summers brother” speculation?

    Move over, Jean and Betsy; Scott is totally giving it to that hologram of Earth.

    Chronology Nightmare is my new band name.

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  14. I have to admit. I’m kind of surprised how many people here dislike this issue/event so much. Yes, it’s built around a big shocking moment, yes that moment was borne from a desire to do something huge for the X-Men’s thirtieth anniversary, and yes, it’s piggy-backing on the formula and success of “Knightfall” and “The Death of Superman”.

    ...so what?

    It’s a well-written story, the big moment is legitimately shocking and cool, and as far as I’m concerned, it all makes perfect sense. Objections to the makeup of the strike team are covered in the story, as has been noted above: “high-octane” energy wielders need not apply, and Xavier selfishly chooses to leave four of the original five on Earth to carry on after he’s gone. He even says he would’ve left Jean behind too, if he didn’t need her. (Which actually brings up my one and only question about the team: why not Psylocke instead? She’s sneaky and psychic and could’ve covered for Jean just fine. I can only assume Xavier didn’t want her because he’s not as familiar with her at this point.)

    Why bring Wolverine? Next to Jean, he’s got the most X-Men experience among the strike team. Magneto has never done anything like what he does here, and presumably, Xavier could never have imagined him going this far. Meanwhile, he knows Wolverine will kill Magneto if it comes to that. I think the decision there is fine.

    Anyway, I could go on, but I won’t. I don’t deny I’m a 90s X-Men fan. I grew up reading this stuff; these are “my” X-Men and my X-Men stories. And I also don’t deny there’s some less-than-stellar X-Men material in the 90s, as we’ll see over the next few years’ X-Aminations. But I firmly believe this issue and this event are not among the bad stuff. Yeah, UNCANNY 304 missed the mark with Magneto, but it was otherwise excellent — and X-MEN 25 and WOLVERINE 75 more than make up for its shortcomings. They’re the absolute best issues in a mostly good event.

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    1. If you'd read comics as long as I have-I started in 1976, which if memory serves is a couple of years before you were born-you might look less kindly on 1993 than someone who grew up on this era. Because in a lot of ways, the comics industry died in 1993, and it's basically been a zombie wandering around staying alive as a licensing arm for movies.

      And one of the things that helped turn the industry into a zombie was event driven storytelling, where the Big Thing that happened could be turned into a one sentence summary for the price guide in Wizard Magazine, rather than natural, organic storytelling. You have to pull out to a wider view of Marvel in 1993 and after to understand why this period bothers me, of how storytelling sense was tossed to the window to cater to speculators who were already bailing on the market by the time this story came out. Marvel is still, twenty four years later, ignoring organic storytelling in favor of Events and Shock Changes, only now they're aiming for the response to fit in a Twitter post. A lot of the bad in 1993 is still being felt today.

      So yeah, a story that ignores the history of the team and bends over backwards to reach the editorially mandated shocking twist for Wolverine can be well done-I did say this holds up better than UXM #304-and also annoy people who look back across their time reading comics, who have a line dividing that time marked "1992-1993", and see so many things that the industry still suffers from today.

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    2. Nice to have someone of a similar vintage around these parts.

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    3. Matt, I'm tempted to take up arms with you in saying this is "my" X-Men as well. Then I'm reminded that I discovered the holy grail in affordable Claremont/Byrne reprints via the "Essentials" trades circa 1997, with which I immediately fell in love. I had the somewhat jarring experience of reading the classics alongside the contemporary books. When you have The Dark Phoenix Saga opposite Operation: Zero Tolerance, ah, wow. No contest. I'm exceedingly grateful that I was exposed to those late '70s/early '80s issues in my formative years. So, I'm forced to be boring and conclude that there are competing, yet equally valid takes on the X-Men lore and must refrain from picking a favorite.

      That said, for as much shit as people give the '90s, there are so many amazing books that either go overlooked or get left out of the conversation as "exceptions that prove the rule." No doubt, the industry was plagued by limitless greed, broken promises, compromised quality, astoundingly poor business decisions, etc. etc. Conversely, though, the very conditions responsible for the '90s comics bubble supported or outright subsidized loads of critical darlings. As the saying goes, a rising tide lifts all ships. Consider: would Starman, The Invisibles, Sandman, and Preacher, among others, have enjoyed the lengthy runs that they did if not for the superheated comics market of the '90s? Or even gotten out the gate? In deference to the long-term health of the industry, I wouldn't want to go back to an era of artificially inflated sales numbers, but at the same time... I can't help but wonder what we might be missing out on as a consequence of today's razor-thin profit margins.

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  15. Unless we want to go with extremely dark reading and say that Xavier planned it pretty much this way by bringing a metal-skeletoned X-Man and a woman with whom he has non-unrequited strong feelings to fight the Master of Magnetism. That "fatal attraction" and all that. Scott has always been his bitch anyway, but Logan as a competing suitor for Jean's affections has always been a tougher nut for Xavier to crack.

    Xavier admittingly was willing to sacrifice the whole task force, so it's not a stretch that he was willing to sacrifice Logan particularly as a handy excuse for his own subsequent actions, or to prompt Jean to similar actions to deal with Magneto for good, and deal with two competitors at one go as Jean first hand witnesses it. Beast quoting Aeschylus' reluctant but obedient Hephaestus at their departure may mark that he was on some level onto what Xavier was up to, and who is to say that "Charl", or "Chuck", the extremely powerful telepath wasn't full-on influencing Magneto's choice of his Aeschulys' insolence quote of Kratos, the pawn of Zeus-Xavier submitted to play his intended role.

    Onslaught didn't born on Avalon, he was already there when the task force left the mansion.

    Professor Xavier is a jerk.

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  16. So, "if we're being charitable..." this is a good issue? :)

    Naw, I kid, mostly. I dig this issue, warts and all, but don't have quite the fondness that many have expressed. As a ten-year-old, I realized it was a huge deal, appreciated the big moments on a surface level, but wasn't very emotionally invested. I couldn't ever claim Wolverine as a favorite, so it was more of a curiosity over where the story might be going next than a feeling of shock or concern.

    Magneto's actions here are reprehensible and beyond justification. It's meant to unambiguously signal that he's crossed the moral event horizon. Nevertheless, just by getting his voice right, Nicieza almost manages to reconcile this with a version of Magneto we can still recognize. Almost. Heroic achievement all the same.

    I also so down for your headcanon of Xavier's exoskeleton doubling as the anti-Magneto suit. Missed opportunity to work that in!

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  17. Now, the view from 30,000 feet. This is very satisfying as a case study in '90s Event-Driven Storytelling. "Death of Superman" and "Knightfall" gave us the two most iconic visuals of the era, but it's hard to think of anything that tops this for Marvel. Knock the issue for its plot contrivances, inconsistent characterizations, disregard for continuity, and outright corporate cynicism, and yet... it's hard to argue with that arresting image of Magneto leeching the metal out of Wolverine's shredded body.

    At the risk of employing an incredibly overused criticism, I will say that Xavier's angst and overwrought moralizing feels a bit unearned. In the span of like a week, Magneto has instigated a fight at a child's funeral, condoned the brutal massacre of defenseless civilians, capriciously killed one of his own followers/participants in said massacre, and unleashed a worldwide EMP responsible for thousands (if not millions) of deaths. (I don't care what Cyclops says, as it's clearly a dodge to downplay the scale of what something like that would truly look like.) Dude. OF COURSE you nuke his mind and every trace of what he is, was, or ever will be. Not even a question. Sure, mourn the tragedy of what could have been in terms of a Magneto-Xavier allegiance. And agonize over what must be done (in true Shooter "I can't but I must!" fashion). But questioning the ethics of the decision? Yeah, I think that ship has sailed. If it was an act of justice/vengeance/punishment, you'd have a case, but at this point it's basic self-defense.

    All of this goes double for Jean, who comes off as way more of a bleeding heart than previous portrayals. She's compassionate and virtuous, sure, but also very much about getting the job done and fighting fire with fire in these high-stakes, do-or-die situations. Holding back against Magneto here really doesn't track.

    And therein lies the problem. For what it's worth, I find what I'm advocating above personally distasteful and not something I'd expect or generally be keen to read in my escapist fiction. But when the villains are allowed to unfairly up the ante this much and play by a different set of rules, it kind of breaks the storytelling engine. Because the heroes are still going to be forced to take the high road and fall back on traditional methods to combat a non-traditional threat. All it achieves is making the good guys look unfathomably stupid and ineffectual. (See also: "Maximum Carnage.") So, instead of massively overstacking the deck in favor of the villains, we can have the heroes come up to their level. But at that point, what the hell are we reading? Two bloodthirsty rival factions perpetually at each other's throats? Where's the joy in that? Either way, it isn't narratively or thematically workable in open-ended, serialized superhero comics. Allowing the villains to become unrepentant mass-murderers in this fashion isn't simply morally dubious, it's bad for business.

    But that's '90s excess in a nutshell, no? Sacrifice sustainability for short-term profits. I can admit it's a fun ride while it lasts.

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  18. I think the Doyleist reason for the strike team's composition is that this is the Blue Team's comic still.

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  19. What amazes me is that this issue came out when I was in middle school (8th grade); Wolverine got his adamantium back when I was a college sophomore. That's crazy. By the time he regained it, he'd been without adamantium for a third of my life, and pretty much my entire comic-reading existence. Obviously now in my late 30s, the years move a lot quicker... and that's STILL an insane amount of time for a status quo shift like that!

    Anyway, the issue. Even as a 13 year old, I immediately noticed the X-Men 25/FF 374 continuity flub. (Possibly presaging my future "NO, Grant, Cyclops bloody well *can't* wear contact lenses! And he doesn't see everything in red, the ruby quartz functions like sunglasses! And there *are* no more Trasks! And Polaris isn't Magneto's daughter, genetic testing proved that! And Unus is dead! And no one made Wolverine wear a costume, he chose to. And Emma Frost had actual character development in Generation X, not that you care" pedantry). Likewise, I instantly realized that bringing a telepathic ninja instead of the metal guy would have made infinitely more sense.

    But the one thing I never thought of until reading this tonight is, exactly how dumb are we supposed to think the Acolytes are? Because as soon as they get back on Avalon, the conversation goes, "Man, it's weird how the X-Men were able to get onboard somehow, then take control of our computer systems and teleport all of us away except the one guy who just joined five minutes ago for no apparent reason and used to be an X-Man and oh never mind I see it now." The fact that Colossus survives two seconds after they get back proves the Acolytes collectively have the IQ of a tub of mayonnaise. (And that Exodus isn't really telepathic, no matter what he might claim.)

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    1. It definitely is bonkers how long the bone claws era persisted (6 years!), even surviving a couple of fake-outs. And, as others have mentioned, booting Logan out of the books as a regular presence for nearly two years. I feel like they never would have gotten away with that if this same story had run even a year later, when marketing had effectively overtaken editorial. (Despite, ironically, the X-Men's success in spearheading these risky moves largely being responsible for that same sea change.)

      Isn't there an issue right before Phalanx Covenant where the "Neophyte" from UNX #300 is put on "trial" by the Acolytes? And Colossus represents his defense? I don't recall it being especially good, but maybe his actions in this issue are addressed?

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  20. "'NO, Grant, Cyclops bloody well *can't* wear contact lenses! And he doesn't see everything in red, the ruby quartz functions like sunglasses! And there *are* no more Trasks! And Polaris isn't Magneto's daughter, genetic testing proved that! And Unus is dead! And no one made Wolverine wear a costume, he chose to. And Emma Frost had actual character development in Generation X, not that you care'"

    Drew, I used to think my wife was my soulmate, but now I'm not so sure.

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    1. Is it OK that I both agree with all of those points and still kind of adore the Morrison run?

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    2. I think that's reasonable. I wouldn't say I adore it, but I did think some of his plotting was good. I just couldn't stand most of his "world building" stuff, such as secondary mutations (in particular the monstrosity he turned Beast into), X-Corporation, Mutant Town, and his concept of the Phoenix.

      And I was against most of his major plot developments -- Xavier outing himself, the destruction of Genosha (which I thought was Magneto's best status quo in a very long time), killing Jean, pairing Cyclops with Emma.

      Plus I agree with all the nits Drew picked above. In particular, the idea that Wolverine spent all those years in a costume he didn't like is idiotic.

      So after you filter out about 99% of what Morrison did with regards to the X-Men mythos, I kind of enjoyed most of his stories and plots on a micro issue-to-issue level. Some (not all, but some) of his character work was good, and he had some decent storylines and mysteries.

      I'll put it this way: much as I disliked the run as it was coming out, and much as I have no desire to ever go back and re-read it, I still rank Xorn's unmasking scene as one of the coolest X-moments ever.

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    3. Ha, flip all of that around and I think you have what most ardent defenders praise in Morrison's X-Men (or deride... I recall a number of folks back then who were let down by the Magneto reveal, on the basis that Morrison was doing such original and interesting things only to fall back on business as usual).

      Looking back, it's a bit of a mixed bag. I have no use for spontaneous secondary mutations, hated Beast's redesign, and wasn't thrilled with the destruction of Genosha. Here Comes Tomorrow was a crap story to go out on. But I also applauded Xavier's coming out as long overdue and appreciated Mutant Town as a concept, for the way it made mutants feel like an actual subculture. There was even a logical extension of that in the notion of cultural appropriation (humans taking mutant growth hormone and whatnot) which wasn't explored to its fullest extent. It was like Morrison didn't quite realize the potential in the good idea he stumbled into (kind of par for the course with him).

      Phoenix was such a contradictory mess that every subsequent usage was pretty much inviting the latest writer to overturn everything that had come before. So I was largely indifferent to all of that.

      As for Scott and Emma, I dunno. I'm a sucker for the soap opera and Scott and Jean were the poster children for tired-ass same old X-Men crap. Morrison's run was a miracle of timing, really. I was just entering college and desperate for anything fresh and exciting after eight years of the Harras/Lobdell regime followed by an aborted Claremont return. I'd be less forgiving if that run happened at probably any other time.

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    4. (And, yes, Xorn unmasking is an all-timer for me as well.)

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