Issue(s): X-Men #25
The United Nations Security Council has voted to "initiate the Alpha and Beta parameters of the Magneto Protocols". Nick Fury contacts Forge, who activates a network of satellites that create an electro-magnetic shield around the Earth.
As far as i know, it's pretty unprecedented for the United Nations to have prepared a world-wide response to a super-villain. If they have similar protocols for Dr. Doom, the Red Skull, the Leader, etc., we've never seen any indication of it. Normally, the protocol is to hope some super-heroes will deal with the threat. But the likes of the Avengers are not called in, and, as we'll see, it's currently bathtime at the FF's place. Now, that may be because the X-Men are already involved. Maybe someone (understandably) decided that they'd be best suited for dealing with Magneto. But you'd think that there would be some elements in some governments who wouldn't trust the X-Men: because countries would prefer to use their own super-people (e.g. Excalibur, Sunfire, or whatever the Soviet Super Soldiers are called at the moment) or because if the threat is grave enough to merit all of this, the "Earth's Mightiest heroes" should clearly be called in, or due to the X-Men's recent outlaw status, or just because of basic anti-mutant bigotry. The latter might also have helped explain why Magneto gets a level of attention that, say, Dr. Doom doesn't. Yes, i know Doom in particular is the ruler of a country, but it's not like he hasn't tried to take over the world several times already, and in fact has been more successful at it than Magneto (even literally succeeding a couple of times, although most probably don't remember that). The mutant angle does potentially make Magneto more dangerous, because any country could have mutants that might be attracted to Magneto's call, whereas Doom, etc., don't necessarily have a potential base of support spread out all over the world. I think it would have been interesting to see all of this explored and spelled out more clearly. Not necessarily in this issue, but maybe in X-Men Unlimited #2, which was meant to build up the threat of Magneto but really was filled with a whole lot of nothing. And i counter your "writers/editors should be allowed to tell an X-Men story without having to document the whereabouts of the entire Marvel universe" with "Ok, but this issue makes a point of showing us reactions from the Fantastic Four, Excalibur, and Sunfire, so i'm only asking questions raised by the story itself".
In any event, the initiation of the Protocols only serves to provoke the already unstable Magneto who destroys the shield in an EMP blast that knocks out power on Earth. And that interrupts the Thing's bath.
First of all, that's a terrible Thing. But more importantly, you'll notice that footnote, saying that these events take place before Fantastic Four #374. Anyone that knows the ending of this issue and has read FF #374 (which apparently didn't include anyone involved in this issue) knows that that's impossible. And you can't go the other way, either, because by the time the Thing's face is cured, Mr. Fantastic has "died". It really feels like no one at Marvel had any idea how long the status quo changes for the Thing and Wolverine would last, which is a sign of problems in its own right; writers were seemingly just winging it.
This was a source of much outrage from me at the time, and it was directed at those involved in this book. I've since realized that continuity problems with the Thing's injuries extended beyond this issue, so i'll now direct some of my outrage towards the writer of the Fantastic Four's book, who also happened to be the editor-in-chief of the company. It seems that the situation with the Thing just wasn't communicated throughout the Marvel offices. I usually try to be forgiving about realtime continuity errors like this since i'm sympathetic to the fact that inter-office coordination is difficult, but this one is just basic logic.
Anyway, write off the Thing's face as being covered by an image-inducer, then turn the page and... fuuuuuuuuuuuck!
Ok, Sunfire, fine, no problem (although don't expect a resolution to his seeming demise)(from "the coming Onslaught"? Heh. Ok, don't get distracted, fnord). But who is that casually sipping a cup of team down in the corner? Captain Britain? Can't be! Captain Britain got lost in the timestream in the same story that had Kitty Pryde leaving Excalibur to participate in Fatal Attractions, and his strange current status will be a plotpoint in Excalibur #71, the final part of Fatal Attractions. So he can't just be casually sitting around during this chapter of Fatal Attractions. But there he is.
This, to me, is even less excusable than the Thing mistake. Sure it's lower profile and easier to miss. But the Excalibur book was part of the X-office; Bob Harras was the group editor. The inter-office defense doesn't play here. This is a failure of basic coordination between two issues of the same crossover. I therefore re-channel my outrage back to the X-office.
Moving on with the story. The fact that Magneto releases a world-wide EMP blast without warning, killing untold "hundreds... perhaps thousands" via plane crashes and failed medical equipment, makes it a final straw for Professor X, who is now prepared to deal with Magneto "once and for all" (via a secret plan that isn't revealed to us yet). To do so, he dons a special exo-skeleton made from Shi'ar tech that allows him to use his psionic powers to walk ("let's say nanites this time").
I know i'm repeating myself, but why isn't this suit using technology that Storm stole in Uncanny X-Men #305? Maybe for the same reason Captain Britain appears in this issue; each X-book apparently takes place in its own isolated universe.
Xavier wants a small team to go with him to Magneto's space station: Wolverine, Gambit, Quicksilver, and Rogue.
Jean's telepathic abilities can bolster Xavier's (which he needs since he's wasting energy powering his walking suit). Quicksilver and Rogue have personal connections to Magneto. Gambit and Wolverine theoretically have stealth capabilities. But i'll note that the whole point of the suit that i mentioned was that it shielded people from Magneto's ability to detect their electro-magnetic pulses. Now we're sending a guy with a metal skeleton against him, citing stealth? It's not like Wolverine's past encounters with Magneto (notably, his very first in Uncanny X-Men #104) went all that well for him. And i guess no one is talking to X-Force and heard what Magneto did to Cable during this event (X-Force #25).
I'd swap out Wolverine for Psylocke, who has stealth capabilities and can bolster Xavier's telepathy. And don't say that Xavier picked people that he's used to working with since Quicksilver and Gambit are included.
Xavier's squad is able to teleport to Asteroid M/Avalon using Shi'ar technology, but they're also aided by Colossus (who, you'll recall, defected to Magneto), who detects their arrival but doesn't alert Magneto's Acolytes.
As the X-Men traverse the asteroid, it's noted that a lot of the technology is Shi'ar, allegedly stolen when Magneto was headmaster at the X-Mansion.
We saw in X-Force #24 that Magneto built this version of Avalon from the remains of Cable's Graymalkin space station, which used to be Apocalypse's ship, which used to be a Celestial device. So it's apparently a great big mish-mosh of tech.
The first Acolytes that the X-Men encounter are poor Rusty and Skids. The idea that they might be (still/re-) brainwashed is raised, but Xavier doesn't have time for that. Seems a little Onslaught is already present (and yes, it basically always has been).
The X-Men manage to get to Avalon's teleportation room, and they teleport the rest of the Acolytes off the satellite. Xavier: "That eliminates any miscellaneous opposition". Heh. That's how i feel about the Acolytes too, Charles.
But that does alert Magneto to the X-Men's presence.
Wolverine charges at Magneto, and Magneto is initially kind enough to just toss him into a wall. While the others fight Magneto (in a battle that is barely depicted on panel by Andy Kubert; just a couple of haphazard poses), Professor X and Jean Grey attack him psychically. Xavier says that Magneto's life is defined by a fragile sense of failure, and he wants to exploit that. Jean is hesitant, thinking that this tactic is morally wrong and against everything Charles has taught her. And the initial attack therefore fails.
Magneto says that his son Quicksilver's betrayal is "sharper than a serpent's tooth". Is it any sharper than all the other times Quicksilver has turned on him?
One continuity error that does seem to be caught is when another mental attack from Charles and Jean results in images from Magneto's past that incorrectly depict how Magneto was separated from his wife and children.
"Professor, the artist is drawing things all wrong! Could that mean we're winning?"
Eventually Wolverine takes another shot at Magneto.
And Magneto responds less gently this time.
Note Magneto is pulling the metal out of Wolverine's body "at the molecular level" which explains why Wolverine's entire skeleton doesn't just come ripping out, leaving a bag of Wolverine skin behind.
Peter David has said that he tossed out the idea of Magneto ripping out Wolverine's skeleton while spitballing at an X-Men writing summit, but that he meant it as a joke and was aghast when the others really went with the idea. I imagine he had more of a "whole skeleton" idea in mind, though. It's actually kind of weird for Magneto to liquefy (so to speak) the metal before pulling it out. It's obviously still devastating, but it's more gentle than just ripping out the skeleton, and why wouldn't Magneto just do that at this point? Of course, that would have to result in Wolverine's death, and we couldn't have that.
With Jean holding Wolverine together with telepathy and telekinesis, Xavier steps up his game, and he and Magneto engage in a battle of dueling speeches.
Xavier takes away Magneto's mind.
The battle has destroyed Avalon's teleportation chamber, but Colossus has contacted Bishop to take the X-Men home. Colossus remains to look over Magneto's comatose body.
So, pretty big deal. Wolverine's loss of adamantium will be a major change for the character; a new status quo lasting a long (some might say interminable) period of time. The "defeat" of Magneto in and of itself isn't that big a deal; it's not uncommon for villains to be incapacitated between appearances. But in this case it results in the characters Joseph (sort of) and Onslaught (definitely).
This issue delivers on big events certainly. As noted above, the rest of Fatal Attractions will inevitably be a bit anti-climactic. This issue isn't exactly "good". Kubert's art is unfortunately too messy to make the battle seem as epic as it should be. And there's a lot of earnest, desperate speechifying, to the point where Chris Claremont's verbosity doesn't look so bad in retrospect. At least Claremont's characterization felt more natural. I find a lot of the decisions made here to be based on whatever is necessary to move the plot forward, rather than being character driven: Jean being so squeamish (it's not like they were trying to kill Magneto prior to the attack on Wolverine), the attack on Wolverine being the final-final straw for Xavier (as if retaliating against someone that just tried to disembowel him was what made Magneto a villain), etc.. But on a certain level all of that can be papered over due to the big developments. Still, Fatal Attractions was a(nother) dropping off point for me in realtime. What happened here was significant enough for me to pick up these issues, but nothing sold me on sticking with the X-books (except Wolverine, which i couldn't help continuing to read for a little while to see how they were going to deal with his loss of adamantium).
Quality Rating: C+
Chronological Placement Considerations: As noted above, i'm assuming that the Thing is using an image inducer to cover his face, maybe to bolster his spirits while relaxing with his bath. But this still has to take place during a break in the Fantastic Four while Mr. Fantastic is alive. Wolverine #75 is the next part of Fatal Attractions and continues directly from this issue.
I'm forced to assume that Captain Britain briefly popped out of the timeline. Nightcrawler expressed his surprise off panel and then got him a cup of tea. And Britain popped away again soon afterwards. (I'll note that the MCP ignores Captain Britain's appearance.)
The MCP lists Onslaught as appearing behind the scenes here (citing a flashback shown to Wolverine by Gateway in Wolverine #104). But i'll only list Onslaught during his actual on panel appearances (or at least when he/it is clearly acting independently).
Crossover: Fatal Attractions
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (2): showAngel, Banshee, Beast, Bishop, Captain Britain, Carmella Unuscione, Colossus, Cyclops, Exodus, Forge, Frenzy, Gambit, Harlan Kleinstock, Iceman, Isaac Javitz, Jean Grey, Jubilee, Katu Kath, Magneto, Moira MacTaggert, Mr. Fantastic, Nick Fury, Nightcrawler, Professor X, Psylocke, Quicksilver, Revanche, Rogue, Rusty Collins, Scanner (Acolyte), Skids, Storm, Sunfire, Sven Kleinstock, Thing, Wolverine
I'd swap out Wolverine for Psylocke, who has stealth capabilities and can bolster Xavier's telepathy.
But, fnord, if *that* happened, Wolverine would not be around for the enormous change in his status quo, when Magneto rips his adamantium skeleton out of his body! Therefore logic *must* take a back seat to enabling a majorly cool event to take place! :)
Posted by: Ben Herman | January 19, 2017 4:04 PM
Logan aside, what the heck is *Gambit* doing on that team? Is he there only because he had a lot of fans?
Re: Magneto Protocols. This idea only serves to illustrate that the X-books have been gradually drifting away from the rest of MU since late 1980s genre-wise. In other books, even big villains are treated as something for the heroes to stop, with governments not getting involved etc. It's the classic superhero genre. In the X-books, the governments do react - the books have been shirting toward more the realistic sci-fi genre.
Posted by: Piotr W | January 19, 2017 4:47 PM
I thought this issue and the Wolverine issue that immediately follows were two of the best event issues in X-Men history up to this point. Not to say they're perfect, but they've got a sense of momentum and thrill to them that normally gets lost in the need to juggle a million things. It's a pity no one can really work out what to do with the adamantium-less Logan in the years that follow. Of course, on my X-Men readthrough I came into the 90s generally with epically low expectations so it didn't take much to be comparitively impressive...
Posted by: Greg T | January 19, 2017 5:54 PM
Well, fnord it may have been been a dropping off point for you, but it was the drop-off for me. I remember peeking at Wolverine #75 in a comic shop to see how he survived, but didn't buy it. Didn't buy another new comic off the rack until Whedon's run on Astonishing.
Posted by: Erik Beck | January 19, 2017 6:30 PM
Regarding this review's opening paragraphs, it seems that the UN's protocols were only for the activation of the satellite network, which they hoped would make Magneto unable to operate on Earth. Magneto responded with an EM pulse that disabled power for everyone except the X-Men, due to their Shi'ar technology. So it's not that the UN chose to call in the X-Men over the Avengers, it's that the X-Men ended up being the only ones able to take action, and Professor X decided to on his own.
Of course, it's somewhat contrived for the X-Men to be only heroes with technology to weather the storm. Tony Stark's personally fought Magneto, hasn't he bothered hardening any other gear? Good thing he's not still on life support.
Piotr's comment on the genre shift is perceptive, and I think this issue does a good job in feeling tense and of-the-moment. Unfortunately, as the review says, the fight with Magneto is anticlimactic. I'm reminded of how tough he was in the fighting game based on this story:
Regarding Wolverine, ripping his entire skeleton out is one thing, but deforming and liquefying adamantium? Even Hulk can't exert that much force. It seems like it should be beyond Magneto... beyond anyone who doesn't have vast cosmic power.
Posted by: Mortificator | January 19, 2017 6:53 PM
Later stories make it sound like Xavier's decision to wipe Magneto's mind was a spur-of-the-moment decision on seeing what happened to Logan, not the premeditated decision it's portrayed as here.
Posted by: Michael | January 19, 2017 7:52 PM
From his wiki entry - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magneto_(comics)#Powers_and_abilities
"Later stories make it sound like Xavier's decision to wipe Magneto's mind was a spur-of-the-moment decision on seeing what happened to Logan, not the premeditated decision it's portrayed as here."
Posted by: clyde | January 19, 2017 8:18 PM
I'm specifically talking about the "Xavier Protocols".
Posted by: clyde | January 19, 2017 8:19 PM
I was already long past my drop-off point, but I heard about Magneto ripping out Wolverine's metal, and thinking that was stupid. Why wouldn't he have done so a long time previous?
Was the world-wide EMP ever referenced in any other books? It annoyed me in the '00s when Graviton would lift every major city in the world or Kang would actually take over the Earth for a period of months, and but none of that was ever noticed in the other books.
Posted by: Erik Robbins | January 20, 2017 1:25 AM
Oh, Fatal Attractions...
I still think there were a lot of cool concepts that came out of this storyline. Magneto being braindead but used as a symbol by the likes of Exodus and Cortez, Wolverine being brought down a few pegs on the power scale, even Xavier's dark side slowly emerging after his actions here was a pretty good idea.
Just too bad the original story itself was so dreadful. (And that very little good came of some of those concepts... Onslaught certainly didn't live up to his potential)
Posted by: Berend | January 20, 2017 11:49 AM
That scene where Wolverine attacks Magneto is confusing. The dialogue from Jean Grey in reaction to this is "Look at him! He's bleeding... badly!" But if you look at the artwork, it only seems like the front of Magneto's uniform was sliced open. There's almost no blood visible. If it wasn't for Jean's line about bleeding, you would think that Magneto is yanking the adamantium out of Wolverine because he's mad about his shirt getting shredded. I don't know if it's the fault of the art or the coloring, but it's a huge disconnect between what's supposed to be taking place and what we actually see.
Posted by: Ben Herman | January 20, 2017 12:57 PM
I am pretty sure that the Gambit Limited series from 1993 should come between X-Men 24 and here.
Posted by: Stephen | January 26, 2017 9:54 AM
Yes, the MCP has it there (Wolverine's appearance requires it). I've laid out Fatal Attractions as a marker for me, and books will go in between.
Posted by: fnord12 | January 26, 2017 11:46 AM
This issue blew my mind as a kid - after months of build-up, this felt epic, and a worthy pay-off. Between the changes wrought on Wolverine, Magneto, and Xavier, this seemed like a genuine "nothing will ever be the same!" event. I pored over it, re-reading it countless times.
As an adult, the warts are more apparent - chiefly Kubert's cramped panels that fail to depict much in the way of the battle - but I still remember fondly the charge I got out of it back in the day.
Posted by: Austin Gorton | January 26, 2017 12:01 PM
Ben, wouldn't that be more of Comics Code problem? (It's not like they could show the Mortal-Kombat-esque viscera of such an act, even in the "edgy" 90s.
Erik I think the destruction of Genosha was the worse offender of that sort of thing. Mostly because it WAS starting to be refered to after the Bill Jemas era and used to further strain the relations between the X-Men and other heroes.
Posted by: Jon Dubya | January 27, 2017 7:46 PM
Something I never thought about until it was brought up in another forum but is adamantium magnetic?
Posted by: a.lloyd | February 7, 2017 3:05 AM
From the wiki entry - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adamantium
Posted by: clyde | February 7, 2017 11:40 AM
For what it's worth (as noted in the review), adamantium was shown to be magnetic at least as of Uncanny X-Men #104.
Posted by: fnord12 | February 7, 2017 1:06 PM
Captain America's shield was created through a mix of an experimental iron alloy & vibranium. Adamantium was created through an unsuccessful attempt to duplicate the accidental creation of the shield.
Seems logical that if he was trying to duplicate the shield, iron would still be one of the ingredients, so seems likely adamantium would be ferromagnetic.
Posted by: Jonathan, son of Kevin | February 7, 2017 4:30 PM
I don't think it's that strange to imagine that the governments of the world had worked to coordinate the Magneto Protocols but didn't have a similar level of cooperation for other villains. To my mind, among Marvel villains only Dr. Doom really represents the same kind of consistent, publicly known geopolitical threat that Magneto does, and Doom, having Latveria, is part of the international order rather than only being an enemy of it.
Other villains that present a global threat tend to move in the shadows (Loki, Masters of Evil, Hydra), or are just so alien that world governments kind of just have to leave them to the Fantastic Four or the Avengers (Kang, Thanos, Galactus, Skrulls, Kree, etc).
And mutants are irrationally hated and feared. And Professor X is an expert diplomat and might have exerted psychic influence to get it done. I can see a lot of different ways to justify it.
Posted by: FF3 | February 22, 2017 9:00 AM
It also seems totally in character to me for Magneto to go to the trouble of de-bonding Wolverine's skeleton, rather than just ripping the whole thing out, for two reasons.
First, I've always thought that the heart of Magneto's code of honor involves only causing the minimum amount of harm to defeat his enemies and achieve his goals, especially to mutants. Second, Magneto loves showing off. This tactic feeds into both those drives. Wolverine might (and, in fact did) survive the debonding, and it's a lot more impressive than just pulling out his bones.
Posted by: FF3 | February 22, 2017 9:24 AM
"I've always thought that the heart of Magneto's code of honor involves only causing the minimum amount of harm to defeat his enemies and achieve his goals"
I'm not sure that's entirely accurate -
From Uncanny X-Men 150 -
If he wanted to cause minimum damage, he could have easily raised the sub out of the water and opened it like a can of sardines, ejecting all the people.
Posted by: clyde | February 22, 2017 10:02 AM
I was actually thinking of 150 myself. I don't know, a couple hundred deaths is bad and all, but on the scope of global war it's nothing, really -- and he only does it after he's attacked, after he warns the USSR, and he apologizes to the crew before he kills them. And he intentionally keeps the volcanic eruptions under control until the city can be evacuated -- which seems preposterous, but these are comic books.
We could argue whether he succeeds in being honorable: his emotional instability, especially his rage, are clearly his tragic flaw. But I think he's at least always trying to be measured (at least after the Silver Age).
Posted by: FF3 | February 22, 2017 10:13 AM
He cares about "his people" (mutants), but only those who agree with his way of thinking. It certainly makes him different than most other villains. He at least has goals beyond "world domination".
Posted by: clyde | February 22, 2017 10:22 AM
And to add to FF3's point about governments conspiring against Magneto, part of it is that Mags is more likely to invoke sympathy among fellow mutants (or those sympathetic to the "downtrodden") than, say a Dr Doom or a Red Skull (it was one of the factors that made his appearance in Acts of Vengeance stick out like a sore thumb) Not to mentions Max's raw power, which wou,d freak people in the Marvel U more than even the most technologically advamced gizmo-weilding so-and-so.
Posted by: Jon Dubya | February 22, 2017 11:51 PM
Re: Magneto sinking the sub-in X-Men 274, Claremont has Magneto reveal that when she sank the sub, he was thinking "How dare they defy me, these Russians whose countrymen let my daughter burn to death" and in X-Men 1, Magneto admits that when he sank the sub, he thought of the sailors as pawns instead of men. So Claremont clearly intended us not to like Magneto sinking the sub.
Posted by: Michael | February 22, 2017 11:55 PM
I think as a reader you could almost sneak in a fan-fix for the adamantium unbonding: bonding the adamantium to Wolverine in the first place was meant to be tricky, and I think we see later, maybe in Wolverine 100, that the healing factor fights against it. So you could say that Wolverine's body has been trying and failing to expel the admantium all along, and Magneto's "tug" provided the tipping point, combining with the healing factor to undo the bonding. On this reading, even though Mags intended to pull out the metal, he might not have expected it to happen the way it did.
Posted by: Walter Lawson | February 23, 2017 1:07 AM
Bringing Wolverine along has another purpose too. Bringing Wolvie along was a mistake, one that makes Xavier feel guilty...whi h then plays heavily in his succumbing to Onslaught (indeed I think this is then one of the "blunders" that cause Xavier to have doubts and frustration about the direction he's going.
Posted by: Jon Dubya | March 3, 2017 5:35 PM
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