Here’s another excellent comic from one of my favorite X-Men era – the mid-Eighties. The Chris Claremont/John Romita Jr period was a golden age when Wolverine was still cool, Magneto was a good guy, Storm had no powers, and the Annuals didn’t suck.
The Uncanny X-Men #200 was in heavy reading rotation with Young Dave. How could I not love this comic? This double-sized comic book was packed with fastball specials, powered armor, Claremontian speechifying, explosions, and with deeds both noble and base. Plus, this issue focused on Magneto, who for a brief time was my Favorite Character Ever.
Magneto is the mutant Malcolm X to Professor X’s Martin Luther King, an arch-villain with incredible energy powers and a serious persecution complex. Claremont crafted a compelling storyline in the X-books of the mid-Eighties about the debt of honor that compels Magneto to take over as headmaster of Xavier’s School. I did a post once about New Mutants #40, a classic story from the Good Magneto Period when The Avengers try to arrest him. Young Dave loved any story with Magneto in it.
"...the fastball special f#$%ing rules..."
Incidentally, I have to force myself to pronounce his name “Mag-neat-o.” For years, I pronounced it “Mag-net-o,” like it appears. I don’t know, Mag-neat-o just sounds so… so… Let’s just say it’s not a name that inspires dread.
Anyway, this issue is “The Trial of Magneeto,” wherein Magneto is brought before the World Court in Paris (they moved it from The Hague because in 1985 Claremont vacationed in Paris, not Brussels) for crimes against humanity. He’s being defended by an Israeli ambassador with help from Professor X. The trial is spawning massive anti-mutant protests across Europe.
You see, Magneto has seen the error if his ways and has vowed to set aside violence in his quest for mutant rights. That is, intentional violence. If you screwed with him he would still wrap you up in a lamp post or pull the iron from your blood. Magneto decides that in order for human-mutant relations to go forward he must take responsibility for his crimes; minor shit like sinking a Russian sub and blowing up a city (it was empty at the time, except for all the cats).
The X-Men are transported to Paris by the Norse god Loki (it’s a long story) and reunite with their mentor, Professor X. It seems that terrorists in sci-fi body armor have been attacking military installations and whatnot across Europe, and leaving the messages: “Free Magneto! – The X-Men” and “I F*#$ed Your Mom – The X-Men.”
Professor X wants his X-Men to track down the culprits while the trial proceeds, but they are understandably leery of helping their archenemy...
But they are the X-Men and they will do whatever the hell Xavier says, and they’ll like it. Is the team called the Cyclops-Men? No, it isn’t. So shut your hole, Summers, and do what the bald man says.
Our band of mutants clash with the hi-tech terrorists of Fenris, who are led by the Strucker twins, mutants with a serious thirst for vengeance against Magneto and Xavier for impugning the family honor (it’s a long story) and a seriously creepy V.C. Andrews-type relationship. There is a ton of superpowered ass-kicking in this book because it is double-sized – and that always translates into double the fun.
Look! Colossus smash!
It turns out that the battle on the Seine is merely a diversion that allows the mutant Strucker twins to attack the courthouse and try to kill Xavier, Magneto, and the defense attorney, who they also hate. The brother and sister team can shoot energy blasts as long as they are holding hands or otherwise fondling each other. They would be played by Angelina Jolie and her brother in a movie.
Before Xavier "dies," he entrusts his school and his dream of human-mutant harmony to Magneto. For his old friend, he agrees to embrace Xavier’s vision and carry on his mission. It’s a great scene.
The X-Men turn the rest of the Fenris terrorists over to the gendarmes and clear their name and all is well. Boy, are they going to be pissed when they get back to the mansion and find Magneto drinking their milk and eating their cookies.