UXM200 & NM # 35 (Sep '85)
UXM200: The Trial of Magneto
Writer - Chris Claremont
Pencils - John Romita, Jr.
As you may recall, Issue # 99 ended with Magneto giving himself to the authorities (as detailed in 33: UXM 198 - 199 (Secret Wars Vol.2, 4 - 5)). The scene is set here with Gabrielle Haller (mother to Charles' son, Legion as well as serving as Israel's ambassador to Britain) defending Magneto, and Sir James Jaspers running the prosecution. We get hints early on that Jaspers is pretty anti-mutant.
Leading up to the trial, Charles and Scott have a heart to heart. Scott knows that he's dying and starts to get upset that he won't be open about it.
The prosecution starts with a pretty salient point. Dude's murdered a lot of people. He's been a pretty terrible villain and that can't be forgiven. To be honest, I really didn't know how an international community could ever forgive him for that.
We see that this trial is really getting the common people riled up. Huge crowds are gathered to either support or oppose mutants.
While the trial is going on, there are some terrorists blowing up buildings. Cyclops takes charge and sets the team out to protect the courtroom as well as try to capture the attackers.
So this is a mind blowing argument. Remember how Magneto was turned into a baby and kept at Muir Island for a while? Well the argument here is that when Magneto was returned to adulthood, he was actually far younger in physical stature. The idea is that he technically should be only be charged for things that happened after this period. Ironically, this is also the period when Claremont consciously started changing the direction of Magneto.
The X-Men are fighting off random goons non-stop during the days of the trial.
Here we get an even bigger teaser for Scott being as big of a dick as his adopted daddy, Charles. Apparently almost everyone on the X-Men called to check in on Maddy except for Scott, and she's 9 months pregnant! Homey can't be like that!
Corsair and Lilandra show up looking for Charles, and Madelyn sends them to Britain.
Anddddddd the baby is coming but no Scott anywhere to be seen. Not a great start, Scotty boy.
I put most of Magneto's quotes in here so you can read them for yourself. Essentially it's an impassioned speech about how he was fighting for his kind, but now he realizes the error of his ways. I really don't know if it would have been enough to change the opinion of the judges, but of course it didn't matter because some crazy shit went down first.
So here we learn that FENRIS has been behind the terrorist attacks. Fenris are the twin children of Baron Von Strucker, the Hydra/Nazi general that Charles and Magneto defeated during World War 2 (as covered by Issue #160 in my Magneto Special. When the twins are holding hands, they have great power.
Also, these were the two who shot Storm in the head while in Africa.
On a fun note, the siblings in the Fox X-Men show "The Gifted" is based off of these two characters!
The judges are attacked and Magneto is able to save everyone from crashing to a basement below.
Charles is able to jump through their hold holding to sever their connection, opening up Magneto to restrain them.
The prosecutor, Jaspers, goes nuts and is about to bash the female's head in with a rock before Magneto intervenes.
The head judge essentially tells Magneto that this is evidence that humankind will probably never forgive him, nor will evil mutants ever let them be. He has convinced her, but it's probably best just for him to leave. So this is a grey area in regards to the verdict. The judge panel gives him permission to leave, but unofficially.
Magneto takes Charles to the surface level, in a garden where he begins to breath his last breaths.
As he's dying, he asks Magneto to take over the school! Thus starts a real interesting period in X-Men history with Magneto running the school. He'll actually have more of a direct impact on the New Mutants as their teacher with the team more or less running themselves as they typically did when Charles would stay behind at the mansion.
Psyche! He doesn't really die, Corsair and Lilandra show up to complete the deus ex machina. While Charles is still alive in space, he actually leaves the X-Men for a very long time. I'm not sure exactly how long, but I know it's several years of publishing.
New Mutants # 35: Who's the new headmaster!?
Writer - Chris Claremont
Pencils - Mary Wilshire
Magneto breaks it to the team that he is the new headmaster. None of them have ever personally faced him in battle, but they have heard plenty of stories.
Also, Rahne looks really small and I don't recall ever noticing that before. I'm going to keep an eye open for that in that future because now I'm curious if that's consistent or not.
Roberto has no problem being the asshole of the team and speaks what everyone is thinking, challenging this idea.
Oh man, Magneto fucks up early. He tells Cypher that he's not allowed in the danger room because his power is too puny. This really pisses Doug off and the other members take Doug's back.
It also gets me thinking that this was a poor use of words. The problem is that Doug only has "mental" powers? Don't Dani and Shan only have mental powers too? Their powers wouldn't work at all against the danger room robots.
Magneto puts the kids through a rigorous Danger Room session where he absolutely kicks their ass. It pisses them off, but also helps them to realize they have a lot they can learn from him.
Later in the issue Dani makes a poor decision and decides to go on a walk alone to clear her head. As can be predicted in a comic (and maybe real life), she is attacked by some young men.
Brightwind, her valkyrie winged horse, comes to her rescue.
Magneto may be turning over a new leaf, but he has no problem kicking the ass of some local thugs. No one messes with his new team of youngsters.
He doesn't kill them, but he scares the hell out of them.
This event seems to get the team excited and now they are willing to keep an open mind about their new teacher.
Chris Claremont likes to do "something big" every 25 issues, so you can just imagine his expectations for Issue #200. Magneto's heel turn started in Issue # 50 (as covered in 13: UXM 149 - 153 (It’s Kitty’s World and We’re all Just Living in it)). I covered his transformation a bit more closely in my Magneto Special as well. I knew Magneto was a sympathetic villain, but had no idea he actually joined the X-Men! There were probably many people out there who weren't sure they could buy the change, so this issue is spent not only convincing the Marvel Universe, but readers as well why we should trust him.
Creators and Character Beats
I've been tracking since my very first blog that Charles Xavier was a dick in the comics. He got a bit better but never really became a great character. This leads me to believe that Claremont never envisioned him becoming a likable character and instead just wrote him out of the comic altogether in this double-sized issue.
In the documentary "Claremont's X-Men," Claremont said:
"My plan was, by 300, to have Charles killed and Magneto become the permanent head of the school. I wanted him to be a hero and the leader of the X-Men, because it would then allow us the opportunity of creating a whole new, utterly irredeemable villain, for the current generation."
Now this will never come to pass as Claremont is off the title by Issue # 300, but this quote confirms my suspicion that Charles Xavier was not part of Claremont's long term plans.
With Charles departing the title, Scott will take over as the resident asshole. There will be a lot of commentary coming up about the X-Factor title (not written by Claremont) ruining Cyclops because he leaves his wife and child, however Cyclops was very much a bad husband written by Claremont. At one point while reflecting on Scott running off with the X-Men while she's very pregnant, Maddie says:
"Baby, I love your father dearly--but sometimes he can be a real jerk.
You would think Professor Xavier leaving the title would be the biggest character moment, but in reality that belongs to Magneto. The trial of Magneto essentially wipes all of his sins clean prior to him being de-aged and reborn. He's not officially acquitted by the trial, but he's not found guilty either, freeing him up to continue on without impunity (for now). Claremont's brilliant heel-turn for the character comes complete as he had moved from full villain to sympathetic antihero to reformed villain, and now into a full fledged "hero" taking over the New Mutants in the wake of Professor Xavier's departure.
The New Mutants comic provides us with the best vehicle to explore whether Magneto's change of heart is real. The teenagers are all distrustful of Magneto, and he even makes some mistakes with them, but he sets out to earn their trust. You can tell a few of the team members enjoy his more direct take on leadership, while others (like Doug Ramsey) feel a bit left out. This will be a fascinating story to keep watching unfold.
My Rating - 9/10
Previous Post - 34: Asgardian Wars
Next Post - 36: UXM 201 - 202 (Secret Wars Vol. 2 # 6 - 7)