Issue(s): X-Factor #92
When Magneto died in Chris Claremont's final issues of X-Men, it seemed fitting to those of us reading it in realtime who had been following Claremont's run for years. It was the end of an era, and with that came an end for the villain that he had revamped and made his own. Even if you didn't have that connection, Magneto's death at the time was promoted as a Big Thing. So it seemed kind of outrageous that less than two years later he was being brought back.
In retrospect it was naive to think that Marvel wouldn't do this, and i'm so jaded at this point that i really had to struggle to remember the mindset at the time (phrases like "pissing on Claremont's legacy" were bandied about). I mean Magneto was a villain, and villains come back from impossible deaths all the time. Sure, Claremont had done a lot to the character, but even Claremont's run ended with Magneto in a villain's role after Byrne's use of the character in Acts of Vengeance and West Coast Avengers. And of course Marvel wasn't going to let the X-Men's first and greatest villain stay dead.
The other part of the outrage was that i was buying this. Didn't matter that i didn't like the idea of it. It was an important event, so i was getting it. All six $3.50-$3.95 (it varies) issues with the little holograms on the cover. The idea of not buying important comic events because you won't like what they're going to do is difficult for any Marvel fan, but this is the first time i remember it really happening for me.
That might be because we knew in advance what was happening here. The advertising made it clear, and there had already been more-than-hints in previous books. In fact, Magneto himself had already returned at this point; it just hadn't been officially revealed. We also got Magneto #0 - which turned out to just reprint two stories from Classic X-Men and a few pages from X-Men Unlimited #2 (or maybe vice versa) - free with this storyline. I'm remembering it as you had to commit to your retailer that you'd buy the whole thing, but UHBMCC says that it came bagged with X-Men #25. Maybe i'm just misremembering, or maybe my retailer opened up all those bags to give us the books separately (he was kind of shady).
The return of Magneto is really more the premise of the crossover than the surprise ending, so in truth the fact that we knew it in advance wasn't a problem. It's the resolution that was genuinely shocking. It set up a new status quo for Wolverine and (inadvertently) set the stage for Onslaught.
Getting there was kind of a slog, though, and this first issue is a good illustration of that. We're in between creative teams on this book so we have a mishmosh of credits. Same is true of the finale (really more of an epilogue that, if i remember correctly, came out what felt like YEARS later than the rest of it) in Excalibur. And the Uncanny issue in the crossover had about thirty million artists. There's a basic idea that is quite good: Magneto returns and sets up Asteroid M as a sanctuary from mutant persecution. But there's not a lot of time to develop that in this relatively short crossover (which ends with Magneto out of commission again) and the story takes its sweet ass time developing anything. Done properly, the last few months (at a minimum) of the X-Men books should have shown an increase in mutant persecution, and then we could have seen mutants really having a need for that sanctuary and the X-Men being torn between not trusting Magneto and understanding why mutants would go to him, combined with pressure from the government to deal with him. The X-books did recently introduce the Friends of Humanity, but very little has been done with them so far. I was going to say that this particular issue has nothing to do with the rest of the crossover, but i'm sort of belatedly realizing that a revelation here that the government is stockpiling Sentinels may have been meant as a feint in the right direction. Still, that revelation has no impact on the rest of the story, and the mutant that goes to Magneto who gets the most focus is Colossus, who defects for entirely different reasons.
In this story, Fabian Cortez is still in charge of the Acolytes, and he has them basically randomly slaughtering humans at an end-of-life hospice. One of the Acolytes, Spoor, seems to have gotten himself captured. X-Factor try to interrogate him with no luck until Quicksilver enters the room, and then Spoor becomes reverential.
From Spoor, they learn that the Acolytes are planning an attack on a military base in Kentucky. Val Cooper, who as we've seen has been acting weird, takes only Quicksilver and the mercenary Random to the base, but the rest of X-Factor follow separately. On their way there, they encounter Exodus (not yet identified by name), who does nothing.
When Cooper, Quicksilver, and Random get to the base, Senator Kelly and some guards try to stop them from entering...
...but they do get inside and discover the Sentinels.
The rest of X-Factor then arrive, upset that Cooper was keeping this from them. Then the Acolytes attack; Spoor's info was a trap to get Quicksilver.
During the fight Madrox pulls the same trick against Seamus Mellencamp that he did against Carnivore in X-Factor annual #8.
This time, though, it apparently traumatizes him, as we'll see next issue.
While the others fight, Cortez tries to recruit Quicksilver. In fact, he tries to get him to lead the group, and is satisfied with just planting the seed in his mind.
The Acolytes then teleport away.
In the aftermath, Val Cooper vomits up that thing that we saw attacking her in X-Factor #87.
I don't think this was Peter David's intention with that original scene, and the Acolytes don't seem to have achieved much by mind controlling Cooper, but Peter David is off the book, so might as well get that loose end tied off. The mind control had nothing to do with Val keeping Project: Wideawake a secret, so she's not off the hook with them. And from there we go through every possible cliche.
To repeat, this all has virtually nothing to do with the rest of the crossover. Yes, Quicksilver is the son of Magneto, and this crossover is about Magneto. Might as well have tied in with West Coast Avengers. It's not a terrible story in its own right - although it's clunkily scripted (love that convenient narration for Exodus!) - and the implications for Quicksilver going forward are potentially interesting since he's always been a complicated character. But from the perspective of someone reading this issue just for the crossover, it feels extremely irrelevant. For that matter, it does a terrible job of introducing the nondescript Acolytes for people that may have been coming on board for the crossover.
Regarding the format of the crossover, this is not a Part X of Y type event. There is a definite sequence for the issues, but they do not continue directly, and issues of the books' regular series, and other books, may take place in between. The next issue of this series takes place before X-Factor's next appearance in the crossover, for example.
Quality Rating: C-
Chronological Placement Considerations: Next issue, X-Factor #93, takes place before part two of Fatal Attractions, which is in X-Force #25.
Crossover: Fatal Attractions
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (8): show
"I'm remembering it as you had to commit to your retailer that you'd buy the whole thing, but UHBMCC says that it came bagged with X-Men #25. Maybe i'm just misremembering, or maybe my retailer opened up all those bags to give us the books separately (he was kind of shady)."
"Same is true of the finale (really more of an epilogue that, if i remember correctly, came out what felt like YEARS later than the rest of it) in Excalibur."
Posted by: clyde | November 17, 2016 11:34 AM
To be fair, Fatal Attractions was more of a branding than a crossover, except for Uncanny 304-X-Men 25-Wolverine 75, which all continued directly into each other. The rest of it was mostly the books own storylines briefly intersecting with Magneto's return.
Posted by: Jeff | November 17, 2016 11:50 AM
When you have three out of five parts of a "branding" continuing directly into each other, it might be justified to consider it a crossover. Either way, I was impressed by the hologram covers. Especially after reading the "Marvel Age" article on the making of the X-Men anniversary holograms in Marvel Age #127. Of course, I'm one of those people who loved all the "gimmick" covers that Marvel came out with in the 90's.
Posted by: clyde | November 17, 2016 12:56 PM
I stopped reading X-Factor after this issue. I was disappointed that Peter David had left, and the drop in quality was readily apparent.
I was also annoyed at the ending of this issue which, as fnord observes, utilizes "every possible cliché." I found it really unfair for X-Factor to literally accusing Val Cooper of being a Nazi.
There is an earlier scene with Senator Kelly and, I think, Wolfsbane, which also stuck in my mind. Kelly was arguing that he was NOT a bigot, and that humanity had every right to defend itself from mutant criminals & terrorists. Considering that in this very issue we saw the Acolytes, a group of mutant supremacists, ruthlessly murdering a bunch of innocent humans who had no way of defending themselves, I would say that Kelly had a valid argument.
I guess this was the point that I first began to see the problems that the whole "mutants as an allegory for real-life persecuted minorities" presented. If were a human being who you actually lived in the Marvel universe, no doubt there is a decent chance you would find Kelly's argument to be quite reasonable.
Posted by: Ben Herman | November 17, 2016 1:05 PM
Continuing... Obviously the government's decision to build more Sentinels is ridiculous, because something is *always* going wrong with them! Turn them on and there's a rather good possibility that they will try to take over the world.
A very good argument *could* have been made in this issue that if the United States wants to protect itself against mutant menaces then they should be developing much more reliable plans & technology, instead of once again building an army of dangerous giant killer robots that might turn renegade at the drop of a hat. But the story does *not* go there. Instead it has Kelly and Cooper rather reasonably arguing that humanity needs to be able to defend itself against super-human threats. The members of X-Factor, rather than presenting some sort of intelligent rebuttal to this, instead respond by shouting "You're a bunch of racist Nazis who hate mutants!"
I was disappointed by how poorly thought out this all was.
Posted by: Ben Herman | November 17, 2016 1:12 PM
Funny that after all the backlash over bringing Magneto back as a villain, this crossover will lead to him being out of commision or in a weird status quo for a good long while.
two years down the line we'll get Joseph, who was supposed to be Magneto at first, but the next proper Magneto appearance is... Trail of Gambit in 1997? And even after that he doesn't do anything too major until Magneto War in 1999.
Posted by: berend | November 17, 2016 2:40 PM
I like to believe that Trial of Gambit Magneto was actually Sinister. Glowing red eyes plus the "Magneto is no longer the man he once was" end quote.
After Magneto War they use him worse and worser still...
Posted by: PeterA | November 17, 2016 4:21 PM
This issue came out 4 weeks late.
Posted by: Michael | November 17, 2016 9:03 PM
I had a completely different take on Magneto's "death" at the beginning of adjective-less X-Men than fnord. I figured that there was no body and that he'd be back. I was unaware of the meta-concerns of the story being Claremont's swan-song. I was a little surprised they took as long as they did, but by this time, I was no longer buying Marvel. Instead I was picking up every piece of drek that Image was putting out.
Posted by: Erik Robbins | November 18, 2016 2:04 AM
It looks like this entry needs tags for a few more nondescript Acolytes: Senyaka, Isaac Javitz, and Sven & Harlan Kleinstock.
Posted by: Mortificator | November 18, 2016 2:52 AM
Posted by: fnord12 | November 18, 2016 8:31 AM
@Erik - I was the very very same!
Posted by: Mark Black | November 18, 2016 11:11 AM
Not saying they don't exist, but I for one have never seen X-Men 25 polybagged. I don't know where this info is coming from or why UHBMCC is saying so, but I don't think it's true. I remember Magneto #0 simply being available on the front counter for like a couple of bucks for non subscribers and free for those who committed to the entire thing.
Posted by: Darren Hood | November 18, 2016 3:49 PM
One of the things i like about this site is seeing how different perceptions of the same comics can be. In my case, like Erik and Mark, I always thought Magneto's death would soon be reversed. I didn't take it any more seriously than Reed Richards's and Dr. Doom's upcoming "deaths" in FF.
But even at the time, I didn't look at X-Men 1-3 as Claremont's last hurrah. They seemed like halfhearted parodies of real Claremont and didn't make a lot of sense. I absolutely hated getting another X-Men vs X-Men story right after the abortive Shadow King saga (and the Warskrulls before that). I thought Lee was driving things and Claremont had no choice but to phone it in. Yet others find these issues poignant, and I do see why.
Posted by: Walter Lawson | November 18, 2016 10:15 PM
@Walter - you hit the nail on the head. It seemed to go from a good steady clip with Claremont's plots driving the books to a disjointed imitation of what had come before really quickly. The Shadow King showdown seemed abortive and unfulfilling, especially since it had been a showdown that had been brewing for years. At least Inferno felt like something happened (Maddie's death, confronting Sinister, reuniting X-Men and X-Factor), the Shadow King saga brought back Colossus so he could be a background character and reunited the Muir Islanders with the X-Men.
I bought into the hype with X-Men #1, but found it to be confusing. It looked cool, but I didn't understand why I should bother. Magneto's death and Claremont's finale left me wanting. The books just felt like a pale imitation of what they once were.
I am happy to see that Excalibur wasn't as awful as I had assumed it was after issue 25 or so and I do remember really enjoying the breath of fresh air that X-Factor was with Peter David.
This site is great for having conceptions challenged and being able to enjoy these stories free of the commercial hype that accompanied many of them with their their initial release.
I only had a few friends in Cape Breton who were into comics. There was no comics shop, so I really had no one to talk about this stuff when it was happening. It's nice to realize there were others around the globe that had similar feelings.
Posted by: Mark Black | November 18, 2016 11:45 PM
Marvel dumped the Comics Code officially around 2001/2002 after the ultra-gory X-Force revamp by Peter Milligan and Mike Allred, but I'd heard that it had been ignored for a years before that and was only still around due to inertia.
The gore and violence in this issue leads me to believe that was probably the case.
Posted by: Red Comet | November 19, 2016 1:00 PM
One sign that the Comics Code is still being given lip service, though, is that the blood in this issue is black rather than red. At least, at one point that was something that mattered to the Comics Code.
Posted by: Walter Lawson | November 19, 2016 8:57 PM
Sean Howe, in Marvel Comics: The Untold Story, says that Marvel (ie, president Bill Jemas) finally dropped the Comics Code (and stopped paying dues) when they launched their MAX line, in particular the Jessica Jones Alias series, which is cover dated November 2001. But, as Red Comet notes, they published X-Force 116 in May 2001 with no seal, due to CCA objections over content. They quietly dropped the seal from all the "mainstream" books in September 2001. And they had been running the Marvel Knights line without seals since 1998. Of course, the Spider-Man drug issues, 96-98, were the first shot across the bow, but in my mind the CCA had been proved irrelevant in X-Men 137, which ran without the seal because the original storyline called for Jean Gray to not be punished for incinerating a star, killing billions of people.
Posted by: Andrew | November 20, 2016 7:02 AM
I really wish they did a better job of introducing the Acolytes in this issue because the team vs team fight is actually kind of cool (Random blasting Senyaka might be the best), and X-Factor beats them pretty soundly. However if I don't know who these bums are and what their powers are then the fight doesn't carry much tension. You got two generic feral animal hybrids in Spoor and Mellencamp, and two generic bruisers in Frenzy and Javitz. Unuscione and Senyaka are interesting but what the hell does Kleinstock do and who is the old guy with the beard in the background?
Posted by: Bonez | November 21, 2016 12:50 PM
Andrew, both the Death of Phoenix and the Death of Elektra ran without Comics Code Approval symbols. Jim Shooter has said that both issues were Code-approved, but the symbols happened to fall off the covers at some point between approval and printing. No way to know if this is the truth, but my source is an issue of "The Comics Journal" circa 1981, asking Shooter specifically about #137 and the lack of a CCA symbol.
This doesn't mean you aren't right and the Code hadn't become irrelevant after this issue, I just wanted to make this point. Also, YMMV, but my understanding was that Marvel dropped the Code because they were still going through bankruptcy at the time, and they were desperate to save money, so why pay dues to something as outdated as the CCA?
Posted by: ChrisW | November 23, 2016 4:59 PM
I suspect that Exodus is here because Quesada (co?)created him (or at least the design) and wanted to have that established here.
Posted by: Jon Dubya | January 13, 2017 11:34 AM
Comments are now closed.
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