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Uncanny X-Men #200 (1985, December)

April 13, 2015

This is a double-sized issue. By Claremont and JRJr, “The Trial of Magneto!” The Trial of Magneto!

That’s an ugly costume. Terrible design.

Magneto’s on trial in Paris, at a Special Tribunal of the International Court of Justice. The prosecuting attorney is James Jaspers, the defence is Gabrielle Haller and Xavier. In the Mediterranean, Andrea and Andreas – whose last name hasn’t been revealed at this point – watch news about it, and plan to kill Magneto, Xavier and Haller. In a park in Paris, the X-Men and New Mutants return from Asgard. I’ll be getting to the Asgard adventures in just a couple more posts – awesome issues.

A few days later, in Poland, someone attacks an army base, and leaves a message to free Magneto, signed by the X-Men. In his hotel room, Xavier starts to have a heart attack, but uses his psi-power to stop it before letting Scott in. Scott admits he finds it difficult to risk his life for a man who’s repeatedly tried to kill him, but Xavier convinces him to find out who’s framing the X-Men.

Jaspers makes his opening remarks, saying that Magneto’s cause is a false one, and that mutants don’t face the oppression Magneto claims they do. In West Germany, a plane is shot down over an Air Force base. The proests outside the trial are getting more heated. Haller makes her opening remarks, saying first that someone fighting for a cause is different from someone fighting for greed, and also arguing that all the charges from prior to Magneto’s babyfication should be dropped.

The X-Men make a plan to find the people framing them, splitting into multiple teams to cover multiple possible targets. Storm refuses to allow the New Mutants to be brought in, and Scott says they can’t bring in the Fantastic Four or the Avengers, since either team would be duty-bound to arrest them, and explaining the situation might take too long. Which feels off to me. I mean, just give them a call, and tell them what’s going on. “Hey, guys, someone’s trying to frame us. You want to help us out?” That’s really all it would take. Then both teams would say they’re too busy dealing with their own shit, but wish the X-Men luck.

The court finds in favour of striking the charges prior to Magneto’s Babality. Now it’s time for the real trial to start.

At night, the X-Men are standing guard outside various places. Nightcrawler and Colossus are outside a hospital, and that’s where the attack happens. The others show up to help, and they get hit, but they don’t see what hits them. The X-Men are forced to flee the police. At the trial the next day, Gaby, Xavier and Kitty are being shouted at by a mob, which makes Kitty feel angry, scared and disheartened.

Back at the Xavier School, Madelyne is alone in the house, and very pregnant, and wondering why Scott hasn’t called her, even though several of the others have. Corsair and Lilandra pop in, asking for Xavier. Lilandra knows Xavier’s dying, and knows the technology on the Starjammer can save him. And then Maddie feels a big contraction, and realizes her baby’s about to be born. On a remote and useless planetoid, Binary is powering the stargate that Corsair and Lilandra teleported through. The Starjammer, in orbit, comes under attack, giving Corsair and Lilandra very little time to find Xavier and bring him back.

Back in Paris, there’s a huge protest. Kitty asks Rachel if she had protests like that in the future, and Rachel says they had riots. Kitty’s angry at the protesters, until Colossus tells her they’re actually on the side of the X-Men. Kitty didn’t realize, because she can’t make out the signs. Kitty needs glasses. Haha! Four-eyes! Scott realizes the crowd is actually the perfect target for attack. Rachel scans for the power that attacked Colossus at the hospital, which makes her deeply uncomfortable, since it’s so much like what she did as a hound. It’s interesting, though, that while she had previously refuses to use her powers to track anyone, she’s willing to do it for Scott. It’s a nice touch. She loves the other X-Men, but Scott’s her dad, so she does stuff for him that she wouldn’t do for anyone else.

At the trial, Magneto’s being questioned about his sinking of the Leningrad. Jaspers acts like a dick, and one of the judges tells him to be more like Gaby. Magneto says that, despite not being a citizen of the US or the Soviet Union, his life his held hostage by those two countries, since a nuclear war between them would kill everyone. He hoped to speak to them in the language of force, but found it didn’t work, and innocents paid the price, as usual. He says that his goal is the same, but his methods have changed, and that he wants to protect his race from the fate his family suffered in Auschwitz. He makes a very nice speech about humans hating too easily, and wanting their hate directed at him, and not mutants as a race.

On the Seine, the X-Men attack a boat, and find a bunch of guys in power armour. We get a Fastball Special (#15), and a big brawl. But Wolverine realizes it’s a distraction. The trial is attacked by Fenris. They’re there to make Magneto pay for the humiliation their father suffered at his hands. They blow up the floor, dropping him, Xavier, Gaby, Jaspers and two of the judges into the basement. They follow after, but Rachel shows up to help. And is quickly dealt with. The momentary distraction does allow Xavier to dive at them, breaking their hands apart, and allowing the others to grab them. Jaspers prepares to bash Andrea’s head in with a rock, but Magneto stops him. The French judge is impressed by his mercy, and disgusted at Jaspers’ behaviour.

Rachel says she sensed a name in the twins’ thoughts, “Struck.” Gaby and Magneto realize she means Strucker, and he’s the father of the Fenris twins. So that’s their beef. Magneto tells the humans to leave, while he and Xavier decide what to do with the twins. Xavier collapses again, and Magneto’s concern gives the twins a chance to grab hands again, and they blow a hole in the wall, letting the Seine’s waters flow in and sweep them into the Catacombs.

Magneto manages to pull Xavier to safety, but Xavier’s dying. He makes Magneto promise to take over the school and look after the X-Men. Magneto’s reluctant, but agrees. Corsair and Lilandra finally find them, and take Xavier away. At the police headquarters, the X-Men show up with a bunch of unconscious goons.

This is a fantastic issue. There’s a lot going on here. The trial is very good stuff, though all we really see is opening remarks and a bit about the Leningrad. All the other stuff Magneto’s done is never really touched on, I suppose because almost all of it happened before he got turned into a baby. The sinking of the Leningrad was his big post-re-aging act; after that, he kinda took it easy. This issue kinda forces him to sorta deal with what he did. He doesn’t necessarily repent his actions, but he does acknowledge that he was operating under an incorrect mindset. He thought that force would work. He was wrong in that belief. Claremont does probably strawman the prosecution a bit too much. Jaspers is just a colossal douchebag, to the point where the female judge tells him off several times throughout the story, and finally ends up bitch-slapping him. Also, the female judge is basically the only one who gets any lines throughout the issue. Just something I figure is worth noting. I have a feeling that was a deliberate choice by Claremont. I’m not sure how I feel about it. It does set up a scene that could have been way more awesome than it was – Gaby, the female judge, and Rachel are all standing together, and Gaby notes that it’s the past (herself), the present (the judge) and the future (Rachel). Unfortunately, this doesn’t really end up having the space to be explored. Oh well.

The Fenris storyline is pretty good, too, a neat follow-up to UXM #161. It’s kind of a shame we don’t get a scene of Storm and the Fenris twins confronting each other, but it would’ve taken away from the main story, so it’s understandable. Even with everything else going on, Claremont still can’t help but do a few subplots. There’s Maddie about to give birth, there’s Kitty needing glasses (which is an awesome idea, I think – how many superheroes need glasses? – and Kitty’s a perfect character to do it with, especially in retrospect, since she’s one of the few characters who has continued to truly grow and evolve since her debut), there’s questions about Storm’s future as an X-Man. And of course, the ending sets up Magneto as a member of the team.

I still don’t like JRJr’s art. It’s not too bad here, but I still don’t like it. About the only book I’ve liked JRJr’s art on was Daredevil, when he was working with Ann Nocenti. (Speaking of Ann Nocenti, she actually as an editor’s note saying that if Claremont ever pulls a scheduling stunt like what happened with the Asgard adventures again, she will shoot him.)

And it’s not an X-Men comic, but I also want to mention Thor #362, and Skurge’s Last Laugh. One of the greatest deaths in comic book history, up with Dark Phoenix and Gwen Stacy. Also, I forgot to mention it in previous posts, but at this time, in Spectacular Spider-Man, Peter David was writing the fantastic Sin-Eater arc, which started in Spectacular #107, in October, with “The Death of Jean DeWolff.” Which was a seriously incredible story. It was PAD’s first serious Marvel work – prior to that, he’d done a few joke stories. This was the story that showed just how damned good a writer he is.

Song of the day: Train by Goldfrapp.

One Comment
  1. A very major turning point in the X-Men franchise that I still have yet to find to read. I’ll have to change that when I get back from England.

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