Monday, April 24, 2006

THE UNCANNY X-MEN #200 Marvel Comics, 1985

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!

The X-Men clash with Fenris troops several times during the book, including a final battle that starts on a tour boat in the Seine. During the fight, Colossus and Wolverine bust their custom move, the fastball special. Basically, super-strong Colossus uses unbreakable Wolverine as a projectile weapon and hucks him at bad guys.

Man, the fastball special fucking rules.

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.

Magneto steps up and confronts the twins, defending the lives of the humans who may execute him for his crimes. The coolness of the whole scene is significantly undermined by Magneto’s outfit, a deep purple sleeveless unitard with matching opera gloves. Throw a big white “M” and a poofy cape and you have yourselves one goofy-ass costume.

The courthouse caves in and the battle is carried to an ancient chamber below. The twins are defeated, but Xavier and Magneto are washed away in a huge subterranean flood. Magneto rescues them, using his powers to pull them up into a rose garden, where Xavier succumbs to a chronic heart condition.

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.

Of course, the impact is lessened somewhat by a deus ex machina in the form of Princess Lillandra of the Sh’iar Empire, who whisks Xavier away in a beam of light so that he can be healed by space aliens. It kind of turns the whole “carry on my dream after I die” scene into a “mind the shop while I’m gone, will you old chap?” scene. Oh, well.

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.


Anonymous said...

Hey, I like corn, too! Cyclops and I have something in common.

Anonymous said...

"Aw, Hell no!" - young SW, looking upon the god-awful uniform, disturbed at the sight of Magneto in .....opera gloves.

Anonymous said...

Magneto in charge was a fantastic era for xmen...


I hated Fenris...

Weren't the issues where the xmen came back and found him in charge better...

And there were some kicking issues where he beat up the new mutants as well...

Though I agree when he did for the avengers...well that was one of the best scraps in comic history.

Greg said...

Fenris rules!

This issue is also significant in that the prosecuting attorney is named James Jaspers. The big legend of the X-Men is that Claremont wanted the entire 200s to be a huge story about Jaspers (from Moore's Captain Britain series who can warp reality) and how he exists on Earth 616 and is going to make trouble. The higher-ups at Marvel put the kibosh on those plans, and this is the only remnant of that grand scheme. I'm pretty sure that's a true story, although I can't remember where I heard it. That would have been neat-o keen-o.

J'onn J'onzz, Martian Manhunter said...

"Incidentally, I have to force myself to pronounce his name “Mag-neat-o.” For years, I pronounced it “Mag-net-o,” like it appears." Sounds like me and Loki. I used to pronounce it "low-ky (as in Kyle)" and then I saw it on Spdiey and his Amazing Friends and they called it Low-Key. That really annoyed me.

Marc Burkhardt said...

I don't care what anybody says. It's Mag-NET-o and Sub-MARE-iner.

Anonymous said...

Interesting rumor about Jaspers--I wondered about that, rereading this issue after my first go through the Alan Moore run of Captain Britain and recognizing the character.

Anonymous said...

This was the first issue of the X-Men I ever bought. Got it at the swap meet -- do they even have those anymore?

Anyhow, I didn't remember too much about the issue except Fenris blowing up shit and Charlie X getting saved by the Starjammers. Looking back, it seems kinda boring, what with all the pontificating by the lawyers and Magneto and all. Still, I bought most of the next sixty issues or so until I realized how much the X-men reeked.

And yeah, the handholding Fenris kids seem a little icky now. But weren't Aurora and Northstar like that originally -- they needed to hold hands to use their light powers? I think so, but then Aurora got too grossed out by it so they had surgery. As a result, she could use her light powers separately and her bro got AIDS.

I read those James Jaspers rumours are detailed at the bottom of the issue synopsis at

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the link!

This is a favorite issue of mine--Claremont and JRjr. pretty much well into the groove. Good and action-y, and drama-fraught.

Nik said...

This was a solid ish, but also the beginnining of young Nik's end of the Claremont love affair. The book still had some ace moments to come - but I think around "Fall of the Mutants," the endless subplots, changes and all that jazz became too much. #200 was great tho.

Jim said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Jim said...

... I had this funny idea once that they would do a Secret Wars again, I guess it would be Secret Wars IV? V? anyway, it would be just like the first one, and Spider-man and Professor X would be hanging out talking at the hero base ...

Spider-man: Geez, I can't believe this. I get The Other crap and my wife dies and comes back and my greatest enemy returns and the whole Clone saga and now this! I know this is the crap I typically get, but, still. One day off. That's all I ask.

(Professor Xavier laughs.)

Spider-man: (smiling) How are you Professor?

Professor Xavier: (puffs on his pipe) Oh, very well. Yourself? I mean, all things considered.

Spider-man: Okay, okay. I told myself if I lose my costume this time, I'm just going naked.

Professor Xavier: I'll be prepared to perform some mindwipes.

(they laugh.)

Professor Xavier: There was something about what you just said. If it's not too personal ..?

Spider-man: Shoot.

Professor Xavier: You mentioned a "clone saga." What was that about?

Spider-man: (sighs) Some time ago this guy, the Jackal, got the idea to clone me. There was a bunch of rigamarole. The clone thought he was real, I thought I was real. It went back and forth. In the end, it turned out, I was real and he turned into a pile of goo.

Professor Xavier: (eyes wide) "Goo?" He met a horrible end, then, I take it.

Spider-man: Horrible, yeah, but normal for clones. I mean, I guess. Every clone I've known eventually turned into goo.

Professor Xavier: (gaze drifts away, begins to pale) Oh my.

Spider-man: Yeah, it isn't appetizing. (pause) Ooh, speaking of appetites. I've got a hankering-for some other-worldly McDonalds. You okay?

Professor Xavier: (still staring blankly) Yeah.

(Spider-man gets up and walks away.)

Professor Xavier: Yeah.

... maybe it's not that funny. I'm glad to have finally done something with it, even if it is just a comment. Toodles!

Chris Arndt said...

Northstar and Aurora had low-level super-speed powers. They could each move at super-speed and fly. I suppose the limit was sub-sonic. Niether of them possessed super-speed reflexes so someone could concieveably blow one of their heads off if his or her powers were not on.

Also, whenever they touched they could generate a blast of light. To blind people.

I still hate Northstar.

It's kinda annoying that most current writers don't get that he was far more likely beat the shite out of straight people out of prejudice than vice versa.

Bully said...

Paul McCartney taught me how to pronounce "Magneto."

For that, I shall forgive him for "Goodnight Tonight."

Chris Arndt said...

Why think that "Mag-NET-o" sounds less silly than any other possible pronounciation?

Namor does pronounce his name as Sub-Mare-in-er.

In hindsight, it has served up sufficient emotional pathos that Professor X asked his arch-enemy "to mind the store" while he is off have alien nookie.

That costume was truly stupid.

Anonymous said...

For like 15 years I struggled with the eternal question, "Mag-knee-tow? Or is it Mag-net-oh?" Finally, when Patrick Stewart boomed forth with "MAG-KNEE-TOW!" in the movie, the struggle came to an end. If Captain Picard makes it so, then I, uh Make it so.

Anonymous said...

First off, I have to say that although Young Bill liked this book almost as much as Young Dave, I have to admit that it was the peak of the "bad eighties fashion" era of the title. Besides Wolvie's semi-cool brown suit, the rest of the X-Men and Magneto were all in the worst costumes of their careers, in my opinion. And Rogue's hair? UGH.

But that's just an aside. What I'm really commenting to say is that if you think the whole Fenris holding hands thing is creepy, you should meet the new Swordsman that just appeared over in THE NEW THUNDERBOLTS. He has a magical sword that can shoot energy blasts!

What does that have to do with anything? Well, the Swordsman happens to be the brother from Fenris. And his sword's not really magical, it just channels the boy's mutant blasts...blasts that are triggered by the leather in the sword's handle...the leather taken from the skin of his dead sister!

NOT KIDDING. Yes, those two incestuous mutants holding hands in the eighties was creepy. But the boy fileting and hanging onto his dead sister's skin so he can still have powers on his own is even more creepy.

I would say I'm surprised no one's mentioned that yet, but I'm really not. THE NEW THUNDERBOLTS sucks eggs, so it doesn't surprise me at all that I'm the only one reading it.

Anonymous said...

"They would be played by Angelina Jolie and her brother." - Sheer genius.

Word verification: cuhwxn
The sound someone makes after being hit by a fastball special.

Anonymous said...

Man, I'm glad I somehow managed to pronounce Magneto's name correctly from the get-go. That would annoy me to no end, Dave.
(And j'onn j'onzz).
(And Fortress Keeper).
(And Dan Coyle).

I had a friend (still have friends, but this guy is no longer in the McGone "Circle of Trust") who used to pronounce the word "esophagus" as "ess-oh-fay-gus" and "epitome" phonetically as "ep-i-toe-me." Not that he was mentally challenged or anything (I don't think), he used to just say that for squeaks and gigs. Anyway, he said it enough that even to this day I'll be reading at nice pace and hit a speed bump when I come across the word "epitome." It makes me mad enough that I want to punch him in the freakin' ess-oh-fay-gus.

Health Incognito said...

Wait...what? No one has commented on that last scene between Magneto and Xavier? I mean...look at them. It's Brokeback Mountain comedy gold waiting to happen! You wouldn't even have to add any text! Just snip a little from the image here...a little voila!

Oh my stars and garters, the obviousness of it! I-I can't stand it! AAAAAAGH!

::head asplode::

Doctor Polaris said...

Blast that fool! Not only does he steal my schtick, but he takes my color scheme too!

Anonymous said...

The backstage drama regarding Jim Jaspers gets covered in his entry in the Marvel Universe Appendix -

Peter said...

I think Thunderbolts is pretty keen. And I like the Fenris/Swordman bit. So there ;)

To Dave: loved the post again, but I'm still hoping for a bashing one (the X-books have more fodder for ridicule than any other franchise, I think, even with JMS heading the Spidey one!)

Mr E said...

Great issue. The Claremont-Romita Jr era is still my favourite. Especially that Kulan Gath story. Although they kept using Arcade. Has anyone ever actually died in Murderworld?

I once wrote an essay which dwelt on that whole "Magneto is the mutant Malcolm X to Professor X’s Martin Luther King" thing. It was shite, but it passed. So thank you Mr Claremont.

How about a post on the worst X-Men era? I suffered through 10 years of dross after Claremont left, but it took Chuck Austen to finally drive me away.

Anonymous said...

Nevermind Magneto's goofy costume, what is Cyclops doing in that one panel? He's all green and stuff. He looks like he's going to intern at a hospital.

Brian Hinshaw said...

Do you adorn your refrigerator with mag-neats?

Was Joe Friday on Drag-neat?

Have you ever surfed the inter-neat?

I don't care how McCartney and Picard say it, he's still Mag-NET-o to me.

Matt Chaput said...

This makes me think of how any memory of a good Marvel or DC comic is always tainted by what idiots later did to the characters or storyline -- in this case... CABLE!

If only the X-men really had died in Dallas...

As someone who stopped reading corporate comics around 1987, it's really depressing to look up my old favorite characters in Wikipedia and find out what happened to them (rape, pedophelia, clones... the usual 90s grim n' gritty).

I much prefer the DC Animated Universe to the canonical DC and Marvel universes now.

Verification word: Vizachkc, former Serbian army colonel wanted for war crimes by the Hague... I mean Paris.

Grants Specialist said...

With all this talk of how great the Claremont/Romita era was, I have to stick up for the Claremont/Byrne era. The arc where all the mutants are older, fighting Sentinels in some post Reagan dystopian future, dying left and right? That was the apex for young John's time reading Marvel.

Anonymous said...

I swear, John Romita Jr must be SOOOooooo into Bondage gear!

BTW..WHAT's with that weird GROIN-STRAP on the male Fenris twin?
He must have a python down there and needs to strap it down!

Almost EVERY costume JrJr designed in the 80's/90's had useless straps and belts and crap.

If JrJr wanted to redesign a costume, the FIRST thing he did was show off your underarms by lopping off the damned sleeves!

How many leather "sweater-vest" type body-costumes did he have going?
Rogue? Colossus? MagNEATo?

btw...the REASON it's pronounced MagNEATo and NOT MagNETo is because there's a REAL LIFE invention called a Magneto -and pronounced MagNEATo.

It's not a villainous invention. Unless you hate the Internal Combustion Engine.
Hmm...Internal Combustion Engine = Fossil Fuels = GAS = OIL = ARAB countries = Terrorist cells = Mutant Terrorists...MAGNETO!

OK...less political...
Internal Combustion Engine = Fossil Fuels = Gas = High Prices = less money for cool *GOOD* costumes = JrJr!

JrJr is responsible for Global Warming! THAT's why he takes all the sleeves off the costumes.

Time for my Meds?


Anonymous said...

To me, Mag-neat-o sounds a lot more imposing than mag-net-o. Something about those hard vowels just gets me.
And anybody who pronounces Namor's name as anything other than 'Sub-mare-iner' (I assume the alternate pronounciation would be Sub-marine-er) is a jackass.
That is one horrible horrible costume for Magneto, though. I mean, who decided he wasn't recognizable enough and added that giant fucking 'M'? That's just unfortunate.
Finally, I too love me some post-supervillainous Magneto. He's so much cooler as a righteous badass who has to put up with the mongoloid hu-mans.

Tom Bondurant said...

I look at that Mag-neat-o costume and all I see is 'Manos,' the Hands of Fate.

call me jack... said...

I became a Claremont apologist after reading how much he improved Magneto's character.

Anonymous said...


That is some seriously gross shit going on their with the new Swordsman.

Anonymous said...

All this talk reminds me of that issue of "What The-?" by Ditko and Severin (I think) when Magneto stops fighting people to teach them how to pronounce his name.
That was some funny shit when I was an ankle-biter...

Martin Wisse said...

That exact issue is the first issue of X-men I ever bought... Nostalgia.

Martin Wisse said...

Incidently, Fenris, you know were really really close as a brother and sister --and the sister was on a dominatrix schtick as well...

And that Claremont holiday to Paris was on Marvel's costs as well --as if making enough money to buy your own plane wasn't enough for Chris!

Anonymous said...

The X-Men are transported to Paris by the Norse god Loki (it’s a long story)...Throw a big white “M” and a poofy cape and you have yourselves one goofy-ass costume....the impact is lessened somewhat by a deus ex machina...

These little observations are why I had long given up on the Mutant Mess by the time this crap issue came out. It had become a hopelessly snarled mess of subplots and unsatisfying art that I had no use for. And, amazingly, it went downhill from here! Whoof.

(the previous Wolverine solo issue you honoured, on the other flipper, was some damn good stuff)

Anonymous said...

You also have to love Ann Nocenti's (now there was an editor!) little crack in her editorial explanation box for which issues you could learn about the Norse adventures. hee hee hee.

Seriously, this was the coolest era Magneto. Though issue #200 wasn't his best moments. Those came in the buildup to this, in issues #196 & 199.

Great stuff when he stopped Rachel from killing Prof. X's muggers, and when we learned more about his time in the concentration camp.

It always bugs just a little when you see how much time & work Claremont put in to making Magneto the most interesting anti-hero/villain/hero around, and then other hacks go and undo it all with one moronic storyline.

Anonymous said...

To Stephanie's point -

I saw it, but I blocked it out. You could see I was already struggling with opera gloves.

BTW - Did anyone else find Xavier's recollection of meeting a 'young Eric Lencher' in the first X-Men movie a bit Brokebackian?

Mag's power wasn't just about pulling the iron....from your body....evidently.

Anonymous said...

I had to have one of the craziest X-Men reading histories in comicdom. I started with the Liefeld/Nicieza X-Force, then the greater X-verse during Fatal Attractions (don't ask me how I got hooked on that stuff. Must've been the cartoon). I delved back into Claremont's Uncanny with the easy-to-find-at-the-time Australia Era and Muir Island Saga. Then Dark Phoenix. Then Phoenix. Then the Massacre. Then the 2nd Cockrum run. Then the first half of the Romita era. Then Fall o' da Mutants. Then the 1st Cockrum run and the rest of Byrne. Then post-Massacre/pre-Fall. Then Paul Smith. Finally, I got the second half of Romita, ending with...Uncanny #200.

Yes, #200 was the last Uncanny issue I read. Of course, by then I pretty much knew the issue second-hand. But for years, it was my Holy Grail, the pivotal issue of Claremont's legendary run (and the pivotal issue of my favorite character). Maybe I was subconsciously putting off finding it because it was the pinnacle, or maybe I REALLY could have used eBay back in the day. Either way, I opened the pages eager with antacidpation...


It wasn't anything special. Pivotal, yes. Story, no. It was basically 48 pages of Claremont jumping through exploding hoops to get Magnus to a point where he could accept Xavier's bequeathment without every law enforcement agency in the world setting up tents on the mansion lawn. Which Claremont did, I admit, with some quality. Just not the quality with which he dealt with Mangeto in every other issue.

Which is all just an extremely long-winded and self-congratulatory way to say "I liked the legend more than the reality." Just with, y'know, a damning Liefeld name-check and Mr. Neat-o.

Anonymous said...

I thought that Fenris-lady was Ms. Marvel with a crappy colour scheme. Very similar look, there.

Also, Rogue and Colossus have energy-blast firing nipples? Oh, those wacky secondary mutations....

Anonymous said...

"they moved it from The Hague because in 1985 Claremont vacationed in Paris, not Brussels"

I don't get it.

The Hague is in the Netherlands.
Brussels is in Belgium.
Paris is in France.

How does brussels come into this move from the Hague to paris?(unless it's for a rest stop on the way)

Anonymous said...

I just saw the "fastball special" in a clip from X3. >sigh< Some things are better left in print for the mind to fill in.

Mister Sinister said...

In the Future:

Prof X is badass

The girl Fenris was shot by the boy who is now Swordsman II

Magneto is being a douche

Aurora is szicho-crazy & usually naked in bed

Northstar is gay & has AIDS, the human Legacy Virus. If he's not dead now, he will be soon



The sound of Andrea Von Strucker being capped down

Anonymous said...

time is the fire in which we burn

Vergil said...

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