Back in the USSR Part 2: Clear and Present Danger
Credits: Ralph Macchio (writer), Ben Herrera & Roberto Flores (pencilers), Gary Martin & Ralph Cabera (inks), Matt Webb (colors), Michael Higgins (letters)
Summary: The X-Men and Brotherhood call a truce when Magneto announces that he’ll combine his powers with the Scarlet Witch’s to stop the missiles from hitting America. Apocalypse suddenly appears outside and engages Magneto and the X-Men in battle. Gambit contacts Xavier, who then conveys Magneto’s plan to Nick Fury. Against the urging of the Joint Chiefs, Fury convinces the president not to retaliate against Russia. Apocalypse abandons the fight when the Russian military arrives, and Magneto is eventually able to gain control of the final missile. He directs it to Apocalypse’s underground stronghold in the Nevada desert. Apocalypse teleports away from the blast, but is unable to save years of research.
Continuity Notes: Magneto has been secretly studying Apocalypse for years, just as he suspects Apocalypse has studied him.
How Did This Get Published?: Storm’s response to Magneto releasing his magnetic wall and freeing the X-Men is excruciating, even by animated Storm standards: “The barrier he imprisoned us behind -- he is dissolving it! Now we may strike back at this man whose actions will bring death to millions.”
Review: How does Magneto go from raving lunatic last issue back to the noble anti-hero this issue? Most of the drama of this chapter hinges on Xavier and Fury’s efforts to convince the US government to trust Magneto, even though the previous issue showed us a Magneto more than willing to destroy the United States! Perhaps someone realized in-between issues that Magneto was out of character, in regards to his animated appearances, but it’s hard to imagine why anyone thought radically altering his personality for the second chapter was a legitimate solution. If you’re going with bug-eyed crazy Magneto, at least be consistent for the duration of a two-part storyline. Suddenly dropping in the Claremont interpretation of Magneto makes the overall story feel utterly incoherent.
Speaking of incoherent, we have the dreaded artist jam this issue. Only two pencilers and two inkers, yes, but the dissimilarity in styles is so jarring that even the youngest of readers is going to be taken out of the story. Both Ben Herrera and Roberto Flores have styles that could vaguely be called “manga influenced,” but that doesn’t mean their art is in any way compatible. Herrera’s work is angular, open, and occasionally too simplified for its own good. Flores has a curvy, detail-heavy style that looks like Humberto Ramos if he drew skinnier, even more distorted figures. Flores would’ve fit in at the later days of Extreme Studios, while Herrera did back-up work on Savage Dragon, if you get what I’m saying. They’re both “cartoony,” but that doesn’t mean they’re well-matched. And neither artist is on the level of Andy Kuhn, who produced some fantastic covers for the Adventures books in the mid-90s, although I’ve yet to see one featuring his interiors.