Thursday, July 28, 2011

Magneto Triumphant: X-Men 112

X-Men #112 (Aug. 1977)
"Magneto Triumphant!"
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 Wolver
ine'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 me
tallic 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!


dbutler16 said...

Having Magneto, and Juggernaut, for that matter, reform, was one of the worst ideas ever. One of the things that really sticks out to me on this cover is the “Now on sale monthly!” banner across the top. Hard to believe the X-Men was bimonthly for so long!

I agree that during this run, Magneto became an A-list villain, right up there with Dr. Doom. These are really the top two Marvel villains, period. I love the part where the X-Men find out that they’re actually thousands of feet in the air!

I love how Magneto build his base inside an active volcano, making it completely inaccessible to anyone without his awesome power. Besides being powered up, the tech here also shows Magneto’s brilliance as a scientist.

Thanks for reminding me of the Beast-Magneto team-up. Beast’s line takes on an extra meaning after remembering those issues. Yes, Marvel was good a cross-title continuity back then.

I was a bit disappointed in Phoenix here. I was thinking “you’re in for it now, Maggie” but then her power inexplicably went away. This reeked of a cheap plot device to keep Jean from becoming a dues ex machine and saving the day with ease, as someone with her power should be able to do every month. Anyway, the plot device worked as the X-Men will have to work as a team to free themselves – next ish!

david_b said...

Not a real X-Men fan by any stretch.., this issue shows some wonderful inking. I got soured on Bryne's rather sketchy art (and dull writing) in college during his later years on FF, but the facial shots here seem quite distinct and well-polished.

I'd agree from all the discussion here on these issues that it's the team at one of their peaks. It's frustrating (and agreed, a bit odd..) that regardless of their 'newness' that they couldn't muster up ANY coordinated team action against Magneto (c'mon, they knew going in that Maggie's the villain to beat), but I understand it was an on-going subplot about Scott's leadership challenges and the new players being a bit more powerful in nature and wayward than, say, Angel or Iceman.

dicecipher said...

I never got to read this issues till a few years later when I could drive and go comic shops. The company that distributed comics to my town would pick one Marvel book each not to put on the spinner racks. I went nuts trying to figure out what had happened and why Beast & Jean thought the rest of the team was dead.

J.A. Morris said...

The line about Alpha reducing Magneto to infancy makes me wonder:
How "old" is Magneto these days? Alpha made him a baby,I know Eric The Red restored him to adulthood, but how many writers have taken that into account in the past 30 years?

Ram said...

just love this era...

Fred W. Hill said...

To my knowledge, J.A., Claremont never explained exactly what age Eric the Red restored Magneto to, but it was very convenient when Magneto's backstory was filled in, not only making him a Holocaust surviver but the father of Wanda & Pietro. Now Magneto was old enough to have lived through WWII and remember it but they still had an easy out to explain why he wasn't too old to still take on the X-Men and anyone else he was ticked off at. Then again, when his mask came off, Byrne tended to draw his face to look 50ish, and I'm not just talking about his silvery hair, although back in 1980, assuming he was born circa 1935, he would have only been 45.
Anyhow, back to the story, it wasn't really all that surprising that limits were placed on Phoenix' power as otherwise the other X-Men would have been left without much to do other than clean up after her. Of course, the same problem applies to all the powerhouses in teambooks, most noticeably Superman & Thor. Makes me wonder if any consideration was given to putting Phoenix in her own series before she was sent on her death spiral. Could she have become Marvel's answer to Wonder Woman?

William said...

You just can't beat the Byrne/Claremont era when it comes to the X-Men. Want proof? In the Wizard "X-Men Masterpiece Edition" which reprints Wizard's picks of the Top 10 best X-Men comics of all time... 9 of them are Byrne/Claremont stories. (The other is a Claremont/Cockrum).

Comic storytelling at it's finest. Nuff said.

ChrisPV said...

Very little to add, except to say that I've loved that cover forever. Just goes to show that, as much as I like the little runt, there's really zero reason why Wolverine's still alive after dealing with Magneto. By the second time, tops, he should have eviscerated himself.

'Course, now his healing factor can regenerate his whole body from a drop of blood.

(Grumble, grumble, kids these days, grumble...)

Anonymous said...

I remembered seeing that cutaway of Magneto's Antarctic base and thinking, "Wouldn't it just be less hassle to go straight and make millions (if not billions) as a civil engineer?"

Asteroid M and all the other secret bases went completely over my head, but it was this one that had me think the whole thing was just a little implausible.


PS Other than that, I'm in agreement with everybody else - this was fantastic stuff!

Dougie said...

John Byrne himself would say I'm too old for this but it just occurred to me that I never gave any thought to how Claremont's Magneto could build mountain-sized complexes or asteroid bases. This is a feat on a Reed Richards or Von Doom- scale; where and when does a Nazi-hunting secret agent gain the necessary engineering skills? My answer is :he didn't. I think he co-opted them from others. Antarctica is possibly the work of the Beyonders,the Mole Man or the Deviants; maybe Asteroid M was built by Hydra. Do I win a No-Prize?

Horace said...

What William said.

The Gentleman Rogue said...

No No-Prize, Dougie.

Similar to the Mandarin, Magneto has been shown mastering the technology of others. First the Stranger and then the subterranean tech used to create Alpha, Magneto has shown a repeated capacity to master the technology of others and make improvements on it.

Computer science, biochemistry, engineering coupled with his vast power suite clearly places him on the genius level.

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