Credits: Fabian Nicieza (writer), Andy Kubert (penciler), Matt Ryan (inker), Bill Oakley (letterer), Joe Rosas (colorist)
The governments of the world set up a defensive shield designed to keep Magneto out of Earth. Magneto responds by sending an electromagnetic pulse over the Earth, shutting off electricity across the planet and killing hundreds of people. A few of the X-Men and Xavier teleport to Avalon in order to stop Magneto. Xavier is wearing a suit, powered by “psionic energy” that will enable him to walk. When Colossus sees his former teammates enter Avalon, he turns off the security alarms. The X-Men hack into Avalon’s computer network and teleport the Acolytes into the escape pods. The X-Men confront Magneto, and Xavier and Jean Grey combine their powers to force him to relive every moment of grief from his past. When Magneto fights back and tries to kill Quicksilver, Wolverine slashes his chest. In retaliation, Magneto rips the adamantium metal from Wolverine’s skeleton. Xavier fights back by erasing Magneto’s mind, leaving him a vegetable. Colossus tells the X-Men that he’ll take care of Magneto as they prepare to leave.
In terms of ‘90s continuity, this really is a big issue. Wolverine loses his adamantium, and Magneto becomes a vegetable. Both of these changes stick around for a while. Xavier erasing Magneto’s mind even (somehow) becomes the origin of Onslaught years later.
The narration on page 12 about the story beginning with an ending and the breaking of Xavier’s heart is a direct reference to the opening of X-Men #94.
On page 38, In Magneto’s mind, his wife Magda is seen running away with his children while he stands by in full costume. The dialogue points out that this never actually happened, and the odd explanation is that Xavier is forcing Magneto to question his actions (huh?). This might be a case of Kubert using the wrong reference and Nicieza writing dialogue to cover it up.
This issue has a cardstock, hologram cover.
There are quite a few added word balloons in this issue. On page 14, Xavier is given extra dialogue that spells out the death toll (hundreds, maybe thousands) of Magneto’s action. On page 20, an extra word balloon has the Beast emphasizing the seriousness of Xavier’s plan. On page 30, Jean Grey is given dialogue to suggest that the X-Men might be ambushed, and Xavier is given a balloon dismissing the idea. I guess someone decided later on that the X-Men should be suspicious after entering Avalon so easily. On page 35, Jean has another added balloon expressing her opposition to Xavier’s plan. On page 45, Xavier is given an extra balloon implying that Wolverine’s injury is the impetus for wiping Magneto’s mind.
Okay, where to start on this one? In terms of delivering a “big event” comic that really does affect the status quo for years, this issue accomplishes that much. Magneto stayed out the picture for longer than most people expected (making his inevitable return seem even more anticlimactic), and Wolverine’s bone claws became a part of his standard look for the rest of the ‘90s. The scripting is typically overwrought, but most of the dialogue does help to sell the gravity of what’s going on. There’s a lot of talk about Xavier’s dream in this issue, and the often negative impact it has on his students. It’s appropriate for an anniversary issue, and the script introduces the moral ambiguity pretty well. Magneto is still behaving ridiculously, taking a defensive action by the world’s governments as a call to offensively attack innocent people, but he does seem more lucid in this issue than in the previous chapter of this crossover. Uncanny X-Men #304 firmly established that Marvel wanted Magneto to be a major villain again, so much of my anger over that revision was already wasted on that issue.
In terms of just delivering an X-Men/Magneto fight, this issue has some decent moments, but it’s certainly not enough to convince me that this entire storyline isn’t a mistake. I liked the way the X-Men dispose of the Acolytes simply by teleporting them away. It’s not very dramatic, but it makes logical sense and clears the stage for Magneto to receive all of the focus. Other aspects of the story don’t make a lot of sense, though. Xavier never gives a very good reason for only taking a few X-Men with him to fight Magneto. Early in the story, it’s implied that he’s doing this because he doesn’t expect them to survive (which ought to make the X-Men he does take along feel real nice). Storm asks him to explain why, and he just gives a speech about becoming hardened and the importance of his dream not dying out. That’s not an answer. I can understand why Nicieza doesn’t want to clutter the story with too many characters (a rarity in an X-book), but this setup doesn’t really work.
Quicksilver shows up with the X-Men, which is appropriate. He’s clearly opposed to his father’s actions, which makes the ending of X-Factor’s role in the crossover even more confusing. Another odd point comes during the X-Men’s fight with Magneto. He never erects his magnetic shield, letting Gambit and Wolverine do serious damage. I realize that there’s nothing more fanboyish than complaining about a character not using all of his powers during a fight, but this always bugged me.
Colossus receives an interesting treatment in this issue. Just one month after betraying the team and joining Magneto, he’s already receiving a more nuanced portrayal. He lets the X-Men sneak into Avalon, which leads you to believe Marvel wasn’t serious about making him a villain, but the issue ends with him again distancing himself from the team. Feeling guilty about allowing the X-Men to violate Magneto, he basically tells the team that they’re not in a position to judge him after their own actions. It’s an intriguing idea, but I don’t think it went anywhere. If I remember correctly, the final chapter in this storyline reveals that Colossus is brain damaged and not fully responsible for his actions, which makes all of this seem even more pointless.
As a kid, this was the issue that turned me around on Andy Kubert. It’s the debut of Matt Ryan as inker, which makes the art a little slicker, but I don’t know why I decided with this specific issue that Kubert didn’t suck at all. It’s not a bad looking issue, but it doesn’t look that different from the preceding issues. For some reason, many of the characters are missing pupils (and their eyes are foolishly colored in blood red), but most of the work is fine. I would grow to become a big Kubert fan, even remarking after seeing the cover of the next issue that he should be drawing Captain America (of course, a big X-artist drawing a mid-level book like that was unthinkable at the time).