Credits: Alan Davis (plot), Fabian Nicieza (script), Lee Weeks (penciler), Dan Green (inker), Richard Starkings & Comicraft (lettering), Marie Javins & Monica Kubina (colors)
Summary: Fabian Cortez and his group of Acolytes sneak on to the mansion’s grounds. New member REM-RAM searches the X-Men’s dreams, looking for information on Magneto. Xavier senses his presence and orders the X-Men to attack. When Cortez harms REM-RAM while attempting to amplify his powers, the Acolytes turn against him. Cortez escapes, and the Acolytes ask Xavier for sanctuary. Xavier refuses, secretly hoping that following the Acolytes will confirm Magneto’s return. Meanwhile, in Israel, Quicksilver reconciles with Joseph. In the Netherlands, Magneto asks Amelia Voght to look over Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch.
Continuity Notes: According to the narrative captions, the Acolytes are divided into different camps. Cortez’s followers include the Kleinstock brothers, Senyaka, Spoor, Projector, and the new members REM-RAM (who can enter, and apparently manipulate, people’s dreams), Static (who can disrupt mutant powers), and Barnacle (who turns body moisture into a “carapace shell”). Another group of Acolytes is following Magneto himself. I believe the Quicksilver series used the Acolytes for a few issues, and inadvertently resurrected a few of the dead members.
When Wolverine is shown sleeping in bed, he’s drawn with metal claw housings on his hand. They’re actually supposed to be on his gloves, not his actual hands (a mistake the ‘90s cartoon often made in the early episodes).
Production Note: This is a thirty-two page one-shot with no ads and slick paper. The cover price is $2.99, which is reasonable.
Review: This kicks off the “Magneto War” crossover, a storyline that was so obviously generated by editorial, it was actually solicited without a writer. Alan Davis, who was originally supposed to pencil X-Men for six issues, ended up plotting it, and if I recall the Newsarama interviews correctly, Fabian Nicieza volunteered to script it. I have no idea what was happening behind-the-scenes at the time, but if the rumors are to be believed, Alan Davis agreed to plot the titles for an indefinite amount of time, working off a list of “objectives” the editors wanted to accomplish. I remember a friend of Davis’ posted online that his storylines weren’t being dictated to him, so what I suspect happened is the editors gave Davis a vague list like “Give Joseph an origin. Reveal The Twelve. Do something with Apocalypse.” and he went from there. I recall online reviews of this era being extremely harsh, which always seemed unfair to me. The perception at the time was that Seagle and Kelly were forced off the books by overbearing editors, and that Alan Davis threw his weight around to get a high-profile gig. I don’t doubt that Seagle and Kelly were being heavily rewritten and left in frustration, but I think Alan Davis received a bad reputation as some sort of “other woman” in the scenario. Regardless of the backstage circumstances, once you’ve reached the point where storylines are being solicited without writers, it is hard to believe that the finished product is the work of a strong creative vision. Even the most hardcore of X-fans began to feel that the titles had just become a bland, blatantly commercially conceived, product.
Judging this one-shot on its own merits, it’s a perfectly okay superhero comic with nice art. I’m not sure why some of the Acolytes are spying on the X-Men, hoping to find Magneto, while another group has already joined up with him, but that’s the only quibble I have with the plot. The dream sequences take up a lot of space, but they’re used to make statements about the characters’ internal conflicts, and their connections to Magneto. Xavier of course views Magneto as a threat to his dream, Rogue still views him as a potential suitor (even if she doesn’t consciously admit it), and Wolverine sees him as a tormentor. The fight is a traditional superhero brawl, and the ending sets the stage for the rest of the storyline. The story does what it’s supposed to do, it doesn’t drag, the characterizations feel right, and it has Lee Weeks art. It might not have been produced under the best of circumstances, but this is far from a bad comic.
The Shot Heard Round the World
Credits: Alan Davis (plot), Fabian Nicieza (script), Lenil Francis Yu (penciler), Livesay/Townsend/Tadeo (inkers), Richard Starkings & Comicraft (lettering), Liquid! Graphics (colors)
Summary: Magneto’s group of Acolytes continues to attack genetic research laboratories. After the X-Men confront them in Canada, the Acolytes intentionally lead them on a chase north. Meanwhile, Magneto sends his robot Ferris to the UN to announce that he’s created another electromagnetic pulse, and that it will not stop until Magneto’s given a mutant sanctuary on Earth. The X-Men are caught in the pulse and crash in the arctic. In Israel, Mossad’s tests confirm that Joseph is a copy of Magneto. As Joseph ponders the revelation, he’s kidnapped by a mysterious woman.
Continuity Note: Joseph is revealed as a clone in this issue, although Nicieza tries to dance around the word “clone” throughout the storyline (the Spider-clone fiasco was still relatively fresh at the time).
Creative Differences: A teaser image of this storyline appeared in X-Men #80. It featured Storm in a different costume (the regal purple one she wore briefly during Claremont’s 2000 run), and various world landmarks in the arctic snow. This never happens in the actual storyline. As confirmed by a Comic Book Legends column, Storm was also supposed to die during this story, back when Seagle and Kelly were still scheduled to write it.
Production Note: Starting this month, the recap gatefold covers are gone. Apparently, they cost Marvel too much money.
Review: This doesn’t work as well as the one-shot special, probably because so much of the story is wasted on having the X-Men chase after the Acolytes. The Acolytes are suffering from their typical lack of a personality, so seeing half of the issue dedicated to them isn’t very exciting (and these aren't even the same Acolytes the X-Men were supposed to be following at the end of the previous chapter). Nicieza throws in a brief reference to one of his later X-Men stories, the one that had a few of the Acolytes following Cyclops while stranded in the desert, but it’s not nearly enough to make you care about the villains. It actually serves, unintentionally, of a reminder of a story that actually gave the Acolytes some depth. Nicieza’s script has a few clever lines, such as Ferris’ “inexhaustible supply of patter” and his rather polite interactions with the UN guards, but the script isn’t able to sell the significance of Magneto’s release of the EM pulse. It might not feel like the appropriate big deal because Magneto already did this in another crossover five years earlier, which is one of the larger problems with the storyline. Lenil Francis Yu shows up for another issue as guest artist. It’s an inconsistent job, as he seems to excel at drawing goofy scientists studying Joseph, but delivers some flat action scenes. Some of the pages look extremely rushed, and his odd tendency not to draw pupils is on full display.