Tuesday, January 22, 2008

X-MEN UNLIMITED #2 – September 1993

Point Blank
Credits: Fabian Nicieza (writer), Jan Duursema (penciler), Panosian/Williams/Palmiotti/Rubinstein (inkers), Marie Javins (colors), Richard Starkings (letters)

Adrian, a former East German soldier, remembers a night seven years ago when Magneto killed his brother for disturbing his wife’s grave. The soldier goes on a quest to kill him, gathering information on him while his government develops a specialized suit and gun to stop Magneto. When he sees Magneto again at his wife’s grave, he finally remembers what really happened the night of his brother’s death. His brother insulted Magneto and shot at him, only dying because Magneto erected a magnetic shield that reflected the bullet back to him. Adrian can’t bring himself to kill Magneto, realizing that Magneto has always fought for a cause while he only has hate.

I Love the ‘90s
There’s no other way to say it, Magneto has a mullet throughout this issue.

Continuity Notes
Magneto is referred to as a gypsy for the first time. This apparently came about because Bob Harras was uncomfortable with Claremont’s revelation that Magneto was Jewish.

Phantazia is given the real name Eileen Harsaw. Nicieza attempts to give the character a personality for the first time, something he would be doing with quite a few Liefeld creations during this period.

This issue also has the first hint that Pyro has the Legacy Virus. I think Pyro ended up with three different Legacy Virus-related death scenes over the years.

This is one of the strongest stories from this era, although it’s held back a bit by the generic ‘90s artwork. It’s surprising that during a crossover intended to re-establish Magneto as an outright villain, a story highlighting his humanity and sympathetic motivations was published. The Magneto of this issue is ten times more interesting than the version Nicieza would soon be writing in X-Men #25. Marvel’s insistence that Magneto return to villainy unintentionally helps the issue’s twist ending, which shows that he was never the horrible monster Adrian thought him to be. Nicieza manages to give Adrian believable characterization and use past continuity to paint a balanced picture of Magneto. I suspect that there was an attempt during the Fatal Attractions crossover to incorporate all of the previous interpretations of the character into one, but they never pulled it off. This issue comes much closer to reconciling Claremont’s reformed Magneto with the Silver Age’s psychotic interpretation.


Christopher said...

I'm _fairly_ sure, although I won't swear to it, that Magneto was identified as a gypsy earlier than this. I think it was in the Claremont/ Bolton "Classic X-Men" backups (reprinted in the Magneto #0 one shot), but I don't have them handy to check.
I know I had it in my head for years that he was a gypsy, but that may have just been through his parentage of Wanda and Pietro.
Also, I'm not sure that he was ever definitely identified as Jewish before this. I know a lot of people jumped to that conclusion when his Auschwitz background was revealed (including Dave and Paty Cockrum, I think), and that may have been the intended implication, but I don't know that it was ever definitely stated. Now that I mention it, I'm actually curious. Does anyone know of a clear reference? (I have checked X-Men #150 and #161 and they only say he was in the camps, not that he was actually Jewish)
--Chris K

Christopher said...

For a long time, I had misremembered the scene from X-Men #150 where we learn Magneto was a survivor to show Magneto reacting to the star of David that Kitty frequently wore and undergoing his change of heart. Years later, when I looked at it again, the star of David wasn't there. I think I was mentally conflating it with the climax of the Denny O'Neil/ Neal Adams Batman story "Night of the Reaper" (which _does_ include such a scene).
The story probably would have read better that way; Magneto's change of heart comes out of left field (he was actively trying to kill Kitty, then suddenly feels guilty about it)It also would have illustrated his background more expicitly. Maybe Marvel was skittish? (or didn't want to ape O'Neil/Adams?)
--Chris K

G. Kendall said...

Magneto #0 reprints a few pages of this specific issue, the scene that actually labels him a gypsy. I don’t remember if Magneto was explicitly listed as Jewish in any of Claremont’s issues, but I seem to recall Claremont confirming somewhere that he was supposed to be Jewish. Former editor Glenn Greenberg has said that Bob Harras once asked him if he was offended by Magneto being a Jew, so it must've at least been inferred. It would be interesting to see if Claremont ever explicitly stated it, though.

Arvin Bautista said...

The art was terribly generic and the ridiculous look of the guy taking out Mags made it even worse... how could I possibly even consider that this guy with his invisible cloak could come close to killing him.

Gary said...

Under Claremont's pen, Magneto was given a job descripition at Auschwitz of a Sonderkommando, a "Jewish command that the Nazis created to do the dirty work of the death factory." He outlines it in X-Men 274. He's Jewish.

Thanks to Jason Powell on Geoff Klock's "Remarkable" blog. He performed a scholarly review of every issue of Claremont's X-Men. I highly recommend it.

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