Uncanny X-Men #200
Issue(s): Uncanny X-Men #200
I'm a sucker for Law & Order-style ficitonalized legal procedurials, so i have a certain expectation going into a book like this (or your average issue of Daredevil) that's usually not met due to the fact that these are super-hero comics, not law drama comics. And there is a major super-hero element to this issue due to the appearance of Fenris, a pair of mutant super-villains.
They are the children of Baron von Strucker, former Nazi and perennial Hydra leader, although it's worth remembering that thanks to a retcon ruling out more recent appearances, we haven't seen the real Von Strucker since the Steranko era of Strange Tales. We've actually seen the Strucker children, Andrea and Andreas, in previous recent issues of X-Men; they were the very Aryan duo that shot Storm while on safari. There was no indication in those appearances that they were actually super-powered, and i wonder how planned this revelation was.
But they spend the issue framing the X-Men for terrorist attacks...
...and then try to kill Magneto at the end due to his past attacks on their father.
Note the voice over by a reporter named Neal Conan in that scan above. He'll appear again during Fall of the Mutants.
Magneto and the X-Men are able to fight off Fenris, but their reputation isn't helped by the framing attempt.
Fenris also have a squad of soldiers in battle suits, implying that they have access to some serious resources.
Their relationship is also a bit... unusual.
While the X-Men are trying to catch whoever is framing them, Cyclops rules out going to the Avengers or the Fantastic Four for help and then snidely quips that the X-Men are on their own "as usual". What a chip on his shoulder this guy has! You can't rule out asking for help and then complain that no one will help you. Anyone complaining about Cyclops' behavior during the Utopia era may want to look here.
But as i said, i'm more interested in the trial. And this story pretty much delivers; as much as i can ask for, anyway. Magneto is being tried by the World Court, but "since this is a criminal proceeding", he's being tried in Paris, not at The Hague. Sir Jim Jaspers represents the prosecution, with Gabrielle Haller and Professor X on the defense.
For the prosecution, Jaspers makes the point that despite Magneto's claim to be a freedom fighter...
I know of no country where it is a crime merely to be a mutant. I have seen no death camps, heard no reports of genocide. Throughout the Earth, they are treated no better, no worse, than their fellow human citizens.
Haller's opening move is to request that all charges related to Magneto's actions prior to his being reduced to infancy be dropped, on the grounds that he was a different person.
This is very clever, both in-story and out. In-story, it's a great (if dubious, considering Magneto has retained his memories) way for Haller to get the worst of Magneto's super-villain days taken off the table. Out of story, it's great continuity mining, and it allows the plot to focus on the serious question of civil rights without many of Magneto's cornier super-villain plots complicating matters. Of course, you could argue that Claremont is really throwing out all interpretations of Magneto that weren't written by him... But overall i think it's a cool move.
Perhaps the biggest breakthrough in the trial is when Magneto admits that "I am the reason mutants are unjustly feared." It's a huge point of development for the character. Assuming his actions really were based on mutant rights, his entire career has been spent accidentally causing the thing he hoped to prevent, and acknowledging it shows major growth.
The trial ends inconclusively due to the Fenris attack, but with that admission we have a major turning point for Magneto. And Professor X, with his thought-to-be dying words, asks Magneto to take over his school.
Now it turns out that the Starjammers are aware of Xavier's condition and they show up at the last minute to spirit him away to be fixed.
But Xavier holds Magneto to his word, especially important because the Starjammers are being attacked by Shi'ar battleships and can't hold their position long.
Really a great issue. It really delves into the mutant civil rights issue, gives us a great legal procedural, and gives us a fun JRJR fight to boot.
The X-Men and New Mutants return home from Asgard this issue (they are surprised to wind up in Paris, but Loki teleported them to Xavier). It seems Wolverine picked up a nifty new costume on the way home.
Also note the comment from Nocenti in the bottom corner. Coordinating the annual event seems to have been a major nightmare. We see evidence of that with the X-Men/Alpha mini, which didn't really fit anywhere appropriate, but beyond that it didn't seem to be too difficult. Still, problems like that will eventually lead Marvel to stop trying to be so specific about where break-out stories occur. Instead of having the characters enter and leave books directly for a mini-series or guest appearance, we'll just get more generic appearances where it'll be up to us to figure out how they fit once things settle. I definitely prefer the approach taken with these annuals, even if it sometimes leads to mistakes.
The Jim Jaspers appearing here is not the Mad Jim Jaspers character that appeared in the Moore/Davis Captain Britain line (he's possibly a reality-warped non-powered copy), but it seems Claremont was setting up a years-long story along those lines (scroll past the entry on Mad Jim). Pieces of that story will actually happen, although not exactly as originally planned. In practice, this Jaspers is of little actual significance. But the original idea was that Jaspers would play the role of the main reality-warping bad guy in Fall of the Mutants, a role that is instead played by the Adversary. Jaspers, already positioned in a kind of bad guy role in the sense that he's not accepting Magneto's defense, goes off the rails at the end of this story when the Fenris twins are powerless.
Seeing Jasper's anti-mutant slurs here, Fall of the Mutants, or at least the original intention behind it, makes a lot more sense.
Quality Rating: A
Chronological Placement Considerations: The X-Men and New Mutants teleport in here after Uncanny X-Men annual #9. The New Mutants next appear in New Mutants #35. Professor X leaves for space this issue and shouldn't be seen anywhere else in between.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: X-Men Classic #104
Inbound References (13): show
One other major development you didn't mention- Maddie goes into labor.
Posted by: Michael | July 5, 2012 11:32 PM
"if dubious, considering Magneto has retained his memories"
I actually give Claremont credit for it (pending approval of the exact way he handled it in the later issues), both in-story and in the real world. Very cleverly done. No-prize-worthy.
Posted by: Paul | January 22, 2013 5:36 PM
Well after re-reading the last Claremont story, here's what we get.
Moira MacTaggert (in a retcon) had tinkered with Magneto's genetic structure when he was de-aged. Apparently he had a problem where, when he used his power (or the more he used his power), it would impact the chemical balance in his brain. Which means Claremont left in the excuse, as far as I could tell. Moira tinkered with his genetics in the hope of finding a cure for her son, who I guess she thought had a similar problem (seems like wishful thinking on her part, but never mind). Anyway the big reveal at the end of the story is that the change is erased the first time the person uses his or her powers. So Magneto had in fact been making all his own choices and had been "himself" when he turned good.
The part about the chemical imbalance in his brain that would flare up whenever he used his powers too much seemed to be left as it was, which I guess means it's an effective excuse for any previous (and subsequent) heel turn for Magneto. And I guess we can say that when he was good for a long stretch, it was either a tremendous act of will and moral choice, or just good luck, or else he just hadn't been using his powers as much around that time.
Posted by: Paul | January 22, 2013 11:00 PM
Thanks Paul. It's similar to Byrne's explanation for Namor's heel turns, but i do like the idea in both cases.
Actually, something that somehow revealed that all of Magneto's actions were in furtherance of a radical mutant rights agenda would have been even better, but with some of the older stories that would have been a difficult stretch.
Posted by: fnord12 | January 23, 2013 9:28 AM
Have to blame Stan and Jack on that one. There wasn't a lot of subtlety, period, in the Silver Age (especially with the villains), but with Magneto there wasn't any at all. In his very first appearance (I believe) there are actually some hints of it (he has an 'astral projection' conversation with Xavier that hits some of the main themes), but after that he's basically a cartoon.
Posted by: Paul | January 24, 2013 3:17 PM
Another explanation for this redundant, non-powered Jaspers might be that he's Mad Jim's father. It's possible the latter was in his 40s and this one is in his 60s--Romita draws him a bit older than Davis, though that's really just a difference of style. I like this idea better than a random clone, and you have to figure Brian Braddock would be pretty disturbed if the same Jaspers were "England's attorney-general."
Posted by: Walter Lawson | November 28, 2013 3:57 AM
In Cyclops' first scene with Xavier he refers to some off-panel adventure the X-Men just had, that "Paris may never be the same", and a footnote says that that story will be told in some mini-series, but I'm pretty sure it never happened.
The ending to this story never made sense to me - Magneto surrenders, he goes on trial - then Fenris attacks so Magneto just bails on the trial and goes home?
Posted by: S | November 30, 2013 8:49 PM
At about this time more X-Men miniseries were announced to be written by Claremont: Colossus with art by Rick Leonardi; Storm, the Starjammers, and the Hellfire Club. The Colossus story appeared in Marvel Comics Presents(but written by Ann Nocenti) and the other 3 minis did eventually get published, but I'm guessing Claremont had no input into them.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | January 18, 2014 5:07 PM
I'm not sure the last three had any connection with the ones mentioned here, as they appeared much later. Under different editorial regimes, and with creators who weren't even working in comics when this was announced.
Posted by: ChrisKafka | January 19, 2014 12:05 AM
There was an earlier Starjammers mini in 1990, so that could have been the one Claremont was supposed to write (although it wasn't written by Claremont).
Posted by: Michael | January 19, 2014 12:25 AM
"Cyclops rules out going to the Avengers or the Fantastic Four for help and then snidely quips that the X-Men are on their own "as usual""
Well, he also explains that he thinks The Avengers or The FF would arrest them, so the guy has a point
Posted by: Jay Gallardo | January 19, 2014 10:05 AM
But the only person that thinks the Avengers and the X-Men would arrest them on sight is Scott. The Avengers and the FF have done the "superhero framed for murder" thing enough times by this point that they might be willing to give the X-Men the benefit of the doubt. Scott is avoiding any evidence that might contradict his preconceived beliefs.
Posted by: Michael | January 19, 2014 11:41 AM
Wouldn't the fact that they're helping Magneto be seen as the reason that Scott thinks no one would help them? When Magneto was on Battleworld, the other heroes barely tolerated him & the X-Men.
Posted by: clyde | January 19, 2014 1:28 PM
Magneto's "opera gloves" costume doesn't last long, does it? By his next appearance in Fnord's chronology, in New Mutants, he's wearing a possibly miss colored all-red costume, still with a big "M." After that, except for Heroes for Hope, he mostly wears the purple-with-white-trim costume, without the M and with baggy sleeves instead of elbow-length gloves. His cape also gets Doc Doom-like clasps.
This has to be one of the worst costumes of all time, but there's something kind of cool about its brazen bizarreness. Nothing beats the classic costume, of course.
Posted by: Walter Lawson | February 20, 2014 1:10 AM
The Claremont era costumes Magneto wears kinda remind me of a mage or something for some reason. No Ian McKellen joke intended.
Posted by: Max_Spider | February 20, 2014 2:37 PM
Claremont confirms in Amazing Heroes Preview Special #1 that there was going to be an X-Men in Paris miniseries, but didn't provide any details.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | February 21, 2014 5:06 PM
The purple with white trim Magneto costume is the one I regard as his "X-Men outfit", as it's worn in the Fantastic Four and Avengers crossovers, and also most of his surprisingly few appearances going forward in Uncanny (he was a more solid fixture in New Mutants, of course).
Posted by: Harry | August 17, 2014 9:03 PM
Oh, good good times (with a few caveats).
This is the point where my brothers both decided for Christmas to give me a subscription (by subscription, they bought me the comics). They gave me Avengers and X-Men, but since the December issue of X-Men was the big anniversary issue they also got me this one. And since I had "subscriptions" to both of those, I started regularly buying WCA, New Mutants and X-Factor. And my collecting went through the roof. As a result, I will always love this issue for sentimental reasons.
But, on to the issue itself...
1 - They needed to stop letting Romita design costumes. Magneto's is particularly hideous. And Rachel had that awesome costume Adams designed in the annual and then Romita never lets her wear it.
2 - I love the description of Sikorsky: "The Starjammers' physician pulled Colossus from the claws of death." Oh, that's right, Xavier should have replied, and HE CLONED ME A NEW FRIGGIN BODY! Probably should have remembered that. Maybe have him do it again?
3 - I love Neal Conan's appearance. Of course I had no idea who he was back then (god I miss Talk of the Nation). I'm a little surprised fnord tracks him, since he doesn't track other real people showing up in the MU.
4 - It was great to come in just as Prof. X leaves and Magneto comes in - the latter is a more interesting character and I was never a big fan of the former.
Posted by: Erik Beck | June 3, 2015 6:44 PM
I have to admit i had no idea Neal Conan was a real person. But he's such an important "character" during Fall of the Mutants that i probably would have tagged him anyway.
Posted by: fnord12 | June 3, 2015 10:18 PM
You're opening the door for tagging John Byrne!
Posted by: cullen | June 3, 2015 11:56 PM
You're not the only one who didn't know, Fnord. Claremont has told a story of how after he featured Neal Conan (and/or Manoli Weatherall) in his creator-owned DCU series "Sovereign Seven," DC's legal department warned him not to use those Marvel characters. He had to explain that Marvel did not, in fact, own a trademark on two real-life reporters (and friends of his).
Posted by: Walter Lawson | June 4, 2015 1:49 AM
(I meant to say "copyright," that is.)
Posted by: Walter Lawson | June 4, 2015 1:52 AM
Couldn't the X-Men point out that barely ten issues earlier they had helped the Avengers save the world from Kulan Gath? Captain America said he'd remember it, and he doesn't exactly strike me as a fair-weather friend.
Barely ten issues before that, when they thought Madelyne was Dark Phoenix reborn, they immediately called the Avengers for help. And, correct me if I'm wrong, they're all working together fighting the Beyonder on multiple occasions during this period.
They might have to rehearse what they're going to say before they call - "I know we're muties wanted by the police, BUT!" - but as was pointed out above, it's not like every other superhero hasn't been in the same situation.
Really, the X-Men make most of their own troubles. And the Illuminati is really incompetent.
Posted by: ChrisW | November 1, 2015 5:14 PM
I have always thought that it was more than a bit odd that Fenris made their hugely dramatic public debut by going after Magneto, someone who fought Baron Strucker on one single occasion decades earlier, rather than targeting Nick Fury, who was their father's long-time arch-nemesis and the man actually responsible for his death.
Come to think of it, did Nick Fury ever meet Fenris?
Posted by: Ben Herman | November 4, 2015 10:16 PM
It's possible we didn't see the twins use their powers in the earlier issues with them and Storm maybe because they were keeping things low-key until they moved against the X-Men and Magneto. However, I do like that, when Claremont decided on the villain(s) for #200, he thought of the twins he used a few issues back. I always like it when a writer uses pre-existing characters, even if they were originally meant to be minor.
Posted by: Andrew Burke | June 2, 2016 9:54 AM
I'm not sure Fenris were intended to be minor characters, although they certainly started out that way. I think Claremont plotted "X-Men" #150-200 as a storyline, opening with a fight against Magneto who began to redeem himself, giving a flashback to Magneto and Xavier meeting to fight Strucker, introducing the New Mutants and eventually Magneto becomes the headmaster.
I think Fenris was intended to become more important villains than they did. Being Strucker's children, they would have handled the shifting timescale as well. WWII was over for 40 years at this point, and although Strucker might have been still trying to conquer the world, he wouldn't be that interested in restoring Nazi Germany, similar to using Soviet villains today. Using his children would have set up a thematic point about passing hatred on to the next generation.
Maybe Fenris wouldn't have become major villains if Claremont had continued, but I think they were intended to be a point about Magneto's [failed] redemption.
Posted by: ChrisW | June 3, 2016 2:19 AM
When Professor X asks Magneto to take over the school, the inks do not look like Dan Green.
Posted by: Johan Mattheeuws | June 20, 2017 4:52 PM
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