X-Men #104 (1977, April)
I think on Saturday I’ll try to do a “Best of 2012” post. But for today, “The Gentleman’s Name Is Magneto.”
The X-Men are in Scotland, arguing with a guy about renting his hovercraft. They basically end up stealing the craft (since the guy wasn’t going to refund the money they paid to rent it) and head out to Muir Island. Banshee mentions that Moira left it in the hands of Jamie madrox, who made his debut in Giant-Size Fantastic Four #4 in February 1975, written by Len Wein and Chris Claremont, and drawn by John Buscema. I didn’t review it, partly because I just plain forgot about it. The Jamie Madrox from that story is different from his subsequent appearances – he had a child-like intellect, and he was a lot more powerful, even knocking out the Thing. Xavier showed up at the end of that story to help take Madrox down and fix the containment suit.
Anyway, as the X-Men approach Muir Island (not quite named yet), and the hovercraft basically explodes as all the metal in it comes alive. They reach the island alive, and are amazed at Moira’s lab building. A force field keeps them outside it, until a piece of rock lifts them up and zooms at the walls. They blast a hole through it before they’re killed, and Magneto finally makes his appearance. Outside, Cyclops and Moira arrive in the Blackbird, with Cyclops angry at never having heard of her mutant research centre, designed to hold and possibly rehabilitate the most dangerous mutants. They find Madrox (after passing Unus’s cell), who explains he was attacked by Havok, Polaris and Eric the Red, who returned Magneto to adulthood and recruited his aid in killing the X-Men.
Back in the fight, Magneto throws Wolverine around by his claws, and Colossus around by his everything. He reflects Storm’s lightning back at her, and is able to sense Nightcrawler’s teleportation along the magnetic lines of force to hit him with scrap metal. Banshee does pretty well for himself, until Magneto pulls ferrous particles form the air to cover him and suffocate him. Cyclops temporarily stuns Magneto, then gathers the rest of the X-Men for a retreat, believing Xavier to be in immediate danger from Eric the Red. As they leave, Wolverine notices that Dragonfly, last seen in X-Men #96, has apparently mescaped her cell. This was going to go somewhere, but never did. Once they’re all airborne, Cyclops explains to the rest of the team that he suspects Magneto was simply a delaying tactic, a way to keep the X-Men busy while Eric the Red went after Xavier. Magneto gloats in causing the X-Men to retreat, without noticing Mutant X’s cell behind him. That will go somewhere. Actually, it leads to one of many acclaimed stories from Claremont’s run.
We get an epilogue with three scenes. A human-looking man named Christopher is talking to an alien named Ch’od about how the Emperor’s plan to open the dimensional gate will mean the end of everything. Then, we see the woman from Xavier’s dreams finally reach Earth, only to be attacked by an Imperial Cruiser. Finally, Xavier and Jean (and Misty) meet Jean’s parents in her apartment, while Eric the Red, havok and Polaris watch and wait the arrival of Eric’s “final player.”
Yet another great issue. This one introduces Moira’s research centre (even if the island isn’t named yet), and “Mutant X” inside it. It also brings back Magneto as a threat, and even has him actually defeat the X-Men, which is great. Heroes need to lose once in a while to be interesting. Makes their triumphs more satisfying. The last page also introduces the Starjammers (two of them, anyway). At this point, Claremont began to set up all sorts of future stories, which became a major characteristic of his run. Not all of those points were followed up on – Dragonfly’s escape, in this issue, was never referenced again in X-Men. And on a minor note, I like how Jean and Misty are roommates. I like those sorts of connections between varying books. I would’ve loved it if Jean and Misty stayed friends for years after, and occasionally got together for lunch or something. Claremont generally seemed unwilling to let the various books he worked on remain unconnected – he needed them to crossover with each other. And that was a good thing, in my mind.
This issue features a letter from future famed writer and editor (Mary) Jo Duffy. She’s always been a fairly prominent female comic writer, having worked for Marvel and DC. Her writing credits include Wolverine, Marvel’s Star Wars series and Catwoman as probably her most prominent titles, but she’s done plenty of other work. Conan the Barbarian, Defenders, Glory – she’s done some good work.
Finally, as you may or may not have heard, Peter David suffered a stroke over the weekend. He’s recovering in the hospital, and according to his wife, Kathleen, he seems to be doing OK, aside from his right eye, arm and leg. He’s still making jokes and keeping his nurses entertained. I hope he makes as full a recovery as possible. He’s a brilliant writer, and seems like a great guy. So get well, Peter. Do what you need to do, and take as long as you need.