X-Men vs. the Avengers #4 (1987, July)
Follow me on Twitter (@XMenXPert). Today’s issue has a ton of creators. Written by Tom DeFalco and Jim Shooter, line art by Keith Pollard, inks by Josef Rubinstein, Bob McLeod, Al Williamson and Al Milgrom, colours by Max Scheele and letters by Joe Rosen. Whew! It’s called “Day of Judgment!”
We start with a news report about the hunt for Magneto. Apparently, he’s being blamed for sinking the freighter that Crimson Dynamo sank. Liars! An American official is meeting with a Singapore official about it, and the Avengers barge in, because they have no manners at all. Apparently, when you have a god with you, you don’t have to make meetings like everyone else. Lucky them. Anyway, Monica asks about the Soviets and the X-Men. The Soviets have returned home, and the X-Men are in custody, which Thor points out will last only as long as the X-Men allow it. Thor’s pretty clever.
Magneto’s spotted on the streets, and attacked by guys with guns. Because that’s always worked so well against Magneto. They would literally be better off with slingshots. He collects all their bullets into a big ball that he smacks the agents around with. Then some mutants tell him to follow them. He’s taken to their headquarters, where he meets the Light, a mutant with the power to tell when someone is telling the truth. They want to help in his war against humanity, but Magneto tries to convince them he no longer sees war as the answer. Then soldiers attack, and a few of the mutants are killed before Magneto stops the fight and the mutants flee.Meanwhile, the X-Men get tired of waiting around, and bust free, taking their prison truck with them. Bunch’a thieves is what they are. They’d better return it when they’re done with it! The Avengers are told to find them and re-arrest them, but the Avengers aren’t very eager to do it. And Magneto’s on a freighter owned by the Light, working on a weapon in his helmet.Wolverine finds Magneto’s scent, and the Avengers find the X-Men. They get ready for another fight, since the Avengers feel Magneto needs to be brought to justice, and the X-Men don’t believe for a second that a mutant will get a fair trial. They’re probably right. Magneto interrupts by whisking Captain America and the X-Men away magnetically. It turns out the circuitry Magneto recovered from his base allows him to control minds. He never used it because Xavier was strong enough to block it, but Xavier’s not around any more. He’s modified it to be able to remove prejudice from minds, especially the prejudice against mutants. But he’s not sure if it’s right to do so. He wants Cap’s opinion, since Cap is the most honorable man ever. Cap says not to do it. Magneto uses the helmet on him, and his answer’s the same. Magneto’s shocked, and decides to turn himself in.So then we go to Paris for a special tribunal of the International Court of Justice. Once again, he’s represented by Gabby Haller, with James Jaspers as the prosecuting attorney. Haller files a motion objecting to the court’s jurisdiction over him. He doesn’t owe allegiance to any country, but instead, is a Uniformed Armed Force for mutantkind, and since his people haven’t signed the Geneva Conventions, he’s not bound by them. An interesting argument. I have absolutely no idea if there’s any validity to it. A very cursory Google check didn’t find anything. I would think it’s probably a bullshit defence.Anyway, the court rejects it, so it’s time for evidence. Gabby keeps objecting, but the court keeps overruling. Finally, Captain America is asked if Magneto’s telling the truth when he says he’s reformed. He says no. Magneto gets annoyed at the trial. He doesn’t think he’s being treated fairly, and he’s also concerned that, if he’s sentenced to death, mutants around the world will rise up in revolt, and lots of people will die. Magneto gets an idea of what might be happening, and summons Monica to ask her help. He thinks the main judge is secretly a mutant who wants to incite a revolution, and he asks Monica to retrieve a mutant-detecting girl from Singapore. When she gets there, most of the mutants have been slaughtered.When she gets back to Paris, she checks in on two of the judges, with the main judge spouting some anti-mutant garbage. She tells Magneto, and he summons his helmet back. Before the verdict can be rendered, a fuse box blows. Magneto takes the few minutes solitude he gets to use his helmet on the judge. Then he destroys the helmet and circuitry.The court decides that Magneto’s crimes were committed during a state of war, only states have the right to declare war, therefore Magneto was a state, and since he never signed the Geneva Conventions, they have no jurisdiction over him. Magneto wonders if that was always going to be how the verdict would go, since neither of the other judges object. Outside, he finds humans outraged at the decision, and realizes that he forgot that him going free would do that. Kind of a silly thing to forget, Magneto.This is . . . not a particularly great issue. Most of the X-Men get completely sidelined, which is a bit annoying. It’s primarily a Magneto issue, and, I don’t know, he doesn’t read quite right. DeFalco isn’t too far from Claremont’s take, but doesn’t quite nail it. The trial is a bit dull. I think one problem with the issue might be that it was probably a little rushed. Stern had written the first three issues, of course. His plan with the finale was to show that Magneto hadn’t actually changed, that he was still a villain at heart. Which, come on, Stern, it’s not your goddamn character. Don’t step on Claremont’s toes like that. That’s dickish. At the same time, I can understand his irritation at having his plan – which had been approved – getting changed on him. So I don’t blame him for quitting. Unfortunately, it meant that DeFalco had to come in and finish a story he didn’t start. And he did a good job under the circumstances, but it was still a sub-par comic. He had the deck stacked against him, so I don’t blame him, either. It was just a bad situation all around. Ultimately, the editors screwed up, and they’re to blame.The rushed feeling also extends to the art. Again, Pollard, the inkers and Scheele did the best they could, but they just didn’t have enough time to put out a great-looking book. It feels rushed.The series as a whole wasn’t particularly great, but the ending was especially weak.