Monday, 3 October 2011

UXM #104: "The Gentleman's Name Is Magneto"

(The Isle of Man's Inhumanity to Man)


Do people on Stornoway really say "nowt"?  It seems a bit incongruous, but who knows where the word originated from?

Well, these people do, and unless our Hebridian bystander (a "Mister Stu'rt, apparently) is pretending the X-Men are cows, I call foul on Claremont's attempts at evoking the local ergot.

Anyway, the team are in the Outer Hebrides to go check up on Muir Island (ding! Score another point for Claremont in the "Major Contributions to X-Lore" tallying), since Jamie Madrox (ding!) has been left looking after it and Moira hasn't heard from him in a while.  They hire a hovercraft from a bad-tempered local, and manage to ride in it for all of the top half of a double-page spread before someone blows it up.

That "someone", of course is Magneto.  As is so often the case with comic companies, the sudden appearance of one of the X-Men's deadliest enemies (as well as the first mutant they ever faced in combat) is rather undercut by him being mentioned by name in the "Next time on X-Men" banner in the previous issue.  Also, by this book's cover, but I'm inclined to cut them some slack on that front, if only because I love the callback to UXM #1:

(Is there any better way of demonstrating the difference between comics in 1963 and 1977 than by replacing a hail of snowballs with razor-sharp metal claws?  If this issue had been released in the '90s, I presume Magneto would be weathering a storm of pouches and mullets).

I confess to having forgotten Magneto was ever reduced to a baby.  In my defence, it hasn't been mentioned at all in the X-books (it happened in The Defenders).  There's a reason given for that, though - Moira and Xavier were keeping the Muir Island facility a secret so no-one knew they were dumping massively powerful and irredeemably unpleasant mutants there.  Gosh, I sure hope that doesn't backfire... [1]

This issue is perhaps notable in that it contains the first instance of Colossus being unable to help the team because of his power.  This time round it's because he's made of metal (and thus, like Wolverine, irrelevant at best when fighting Magneto, and potentially a threat to the team), but as I remember Claremont took this idea and ran with it, resulting in more than a few stories in which Peter's fear of doing too much damage as Colossus led to him benching himself and bitching interminably.  In fairness, it's by no means a bad idea - it contains hints of Wagner, even - but whatever else Claremont is, he's not a writer afraid to recycle.

Having said on more than one occasion that there's very little to be said about action scenes, that's a lot less true here.  The difficulties the X-Men have fighting someone who can control metal (and sense the magnetic shifts involved in teleportation, and redirect lightening bolts... somehow) are well realised, and Magneto pulling iron particles from the air to create a skintight - and airtight - tomb for Banshee is horribly and impressively vicious. 

The issue ends with our first brief introductions to the Starjammers (ding!) and Princess Lilandra Nermani (ding!) of the Shi'ar (ding!).  We're almost at the top of the roller coaster, people...


This story takes place over the course of a few hours.

Banshee mentions that Moira called from New York, meaning the X-Men themselves weren't there.  Presumably they were still in Ireland, finishing off their holiday and/or attempting to deal with the massive PTSD problem the local leprechaun population is presumably dealing with following their ill treatment at the hands of Juggernaut and Black Tom.

Indeed, Colossus mentions that it will be good to get back into action following their vacation at Cassidy Keep.  Assuming he isn't being sarcastic (which would be unlike him), that certainly suggests the X-Men had time to unwind following their near-death experiences.

We'll therefore place this story a week after the defeat of Thomas Cassidy and Cain Marko.


Wednesday 13th January, 1982.



Compression Constant

1 Marvel year = 3.67 standard years.

(Storm is 34 years old.)

"He's toying with us!"
Contemporary Events

The Air Florida Flight 90 crash, in which a Boeing 737 collides with the 14th Street Bridge in Washington D.C..

Standout Line

"Why is it that every time we ride in something mechanical, it crashes?" - Nightcrawler.

[1] Actually, we already know it has.  Some kind of terrible force has been let loose from behind a door marked "Mutant X".  Oh, and that bug-faced woman from the Ani-Men has gotten out as well, but it's tough to get too worked up about someone so stupid she can't remember her bosses' voice from one moment to the next.

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