X-Men #112 (Aug. 1977)
writer: Chris Claremont
Artists: John Byrne/Terry Austin Karen: Magneto vs. the X-Men. It really doesn't get any better than that. And this is old school style -before anyone thought it was a great idea to have Magneto 'reform' and join the X-Men. No, this is Magneto and the height of both his powers and his fury. And both are directed at our little mutant band. Doug: I agree with you -- this seems to be a Magneto on the level of Doctor Doom. Confident, deliberate, scary... Karen: The X-Men find themselves inside a circus wagon, facing their greatest enemy. Cyclops orders the team outside, only to discover that the wagon is now flying far above the Earth, controlled by the master of magnetism -who also appears to be maintaining life support conditions within. Turns out Magneto had gone to Xavier's school to face his foes but found the place deserted. Soon after he got there, the Beast showed up, and he followed the former X-Man to the circus. So it was all very serendipitous. Doug: That was quite a shock to see that the circus wagon was indeed in flight. At it's a testament to how strong Magneto was -- think about it: not only could they not tell that they were moving upward, but there was no centrifugal force, etc. And like you said -- to preserve the life support systems. Did his powers in this era know no bounds?
Karen: The wagon passes over South America to Antarctica, where Magneto has a sprawling base hidden beneath a volcano. Very Bond-ish. The wagon passing through the molten lava is very well rendered. You'll notice that the bottom panel showing an overview of his base is actually a drawing of half a base, just flopped over mirror-image style, to make a complete base.
Doug: I'm always a sucker for these sorts of cut-away drawings. Too bad the whole thing wasn't labeled, as we've seen for years for the Baxter Building, the Batcave, and Avengers Mansion.
Karen: Once safely within the base, Magneto uses his powers to blow the wagon apart and engages the team. Cyclops is still fretting about it, feeling the team is not ready. And he's right. They proceed to take Magneto on one at a time, rather than as a team. As you may recall from reading our previous reviews, this was a real problem for the new X-Men in their early days. Doug: Chris Claremont did a nice job of building suspense throughout this scene by telling us of the tension building in the X-Men's thoughts. I can recall being on pins and needles the first time I read this -- the entire story, from our part 1 last week through this was just a running discovery of what lie in store.
Karen: I agree, this is a very well-written story, full of action yet still giving us good character moments. Although reading it years later, I see some of the infamous 'Claremontisms' that would become all too apparent later on. Storm takes a good shot at Magneto, using a blizzard, but hesitates, not wanting to kill him, and he takes her down. Phoenix does even better, until she reaches her limits, which she is surprised to find she has. But Magneto manages to get the better of her. That leaves the little psychopath, Wolverine, who regains consciousness just as Jean goes down. He takes a swipe at Magneto but comes up only with a scrap of his cape. Magneto then uses Wolverine's claws against him, eliciting some actual fear from the little nut. But Magneto doesn't kill him; he has other plans for him. Therefore, he just knocks him out. Doug: I wonder if you caught the reference from the Beast as to he and Maggie being "best buddies"? There was a footnote earlier in the story referencing the Champions and Super-Villain Team-Up stories that we covered. In the second installment, the Beast had taken Magneto to LA to meet up with the Champions against Dr. Doom. Nice bit of unification in the Marvel Universe, which the House of Ideas has always been good at. And Cyclops was right -- and this has always been one of my complaints about team books -- they all just attacked as individuals. You'd think they'd learn. I, too, was shocked when Jean fizzled at the height of her attack -- I expected more.
Karen: The X-Men awaken in a chamber where they are imprisoned in metallic chairs. Magneto explains to him that his defeat at the hands of Xavier and the mutant Alpha humiliated him. Although regressed to infancy, Magneto claims that he knew what he should have been, knew of his power. Yet he was unable to do anything about it. Therefore, he is going to make the X-Men suffer the same fate. The chairs he's locked them into are connected to their nervous systems. Effectively, he's reduced their motor control to that of newborns. The mutants try to move, or talk, but find they cannot. As the master of magnetism tells them, "If there is a Hell, X-Men, it surely cannot be more terrible than this."
Doug: You think these super-baddies would learn not to toy with their prey... I can't wait for the next issue!
Karen and Doug are honored to have been asked to join this summer's Super Blog Team-Up. Come July, we'll be back in the reviewers' chairs and taking a look at one of the great treasuries of the Bronze Age!
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Karen and Doug
Bronze Age Babies, Unite!
On Sunday, 4/23/17, Martinex1, Doug, and Redartz gathered for a day of fun at C2E2 in Chicago. It was great to finally meet in person after years of online cameraderie.
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Karen and Doug met on the Avengers Assemble! message board back in September 2006. On June 16 2009 they went live with the Bronze Age Babies blog, sharing their love for 1970s and '80s pop culture with readers who happen by each day. You'll find conversations on comics, TV, music, movies, toys, food... just about anything that evokes memories of our beloved pasts!
Doug is a high school social science teacher and department chairman living south of Chicago; he also does contract work for the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. He is married with two adult sons and a daughter-in-law.
Karen originally hails from California and now works in scientific research/writing in the Phoenix area. She often contributes articles to Back Issue magazine. She is married. She hangs out with Joe Biden occasionally.
Believe it or not, the Bronze Age Babies have never spoken to each other...
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Dig Karen's Work Here? Then You Should Check Her Out in Back Issue!
BI #44 is available for digital download and in print. I've read Karen's article on reader reaction to Gerry Conway's ASM #121-122, and it's excellent. This entire magazine was fun! -- Doug
Back Issue #45
As if Karen's work on Spidey in the Bronze Age wasn't awesome enough, she's at it again with a look at the romance of the Vision and the Scarlet Witch in Back Issue's "Odd Couples" issue -- from TwoMorrows!
Karen's talking the Mighty Thor in the Bronze Age!
Click the cover to order a print or digital copy of Back Issue! #53