X-Men (vol.2) #2 (November, 1991)
By Chris Claremont & Jim Lee
Inks – Scott Williams
Colors – Joe Rosas
Letters – Tom Orzechowski
Edits – Bob Harras
Chief – Tom DeFalco
Cover Price: $1.00
Another day… another dip into the ol’ From Claremont to Claremont Archives… strangely enough, folks seem to dig these more than my usual stuff! Maybe it’s not so strange after all… who knows? In my six and a half years of doin’ this every day, you’d think I’d have figured something out. Oh well.
Here’s to happy accidents…
We open with Magneto’s big ol’ head. He informs the X-Men that the Acolytes have pledged themselves to him, how he does not intend on abandoning them… and that he will decide how to deal with their rather extreme actions. Ya know, like destroying a city and leveling a hospital last issue. Cyclops realizes that Magneto’s so far gone… sort of stuck in his own head at this point, that he cares very little about what happens to “ordinary human beings”… and well, he’s right. Magneto goes so far as to suggest that Genosha had it coming for being “Mutant Slavers” during that whole X-Tinction Agenda thing.
Magneto is attacked by a Genoshan helicopter… that is mostly made of plastic and other non-ferrous materials. Magneto just shrugs it off… and plays a little “cause and effect” with the whirlybird. Just because he can’t manipulate it, doesn’t mean he can’t ram big ol’ beams of metal through it!
After Magneto deflects another X-Men attack, we shift scenes to meet up with Fabian Cortez. Psylocke confronts him, but is easily overwhelmed… and smooched upon by the ginger geek.
Meanwhile, at the United Nations… they’re still talkin’ about the situation. A man named Alexyev, who looks like a beta-version of Jacob Marlowe from WildC.A.T.S (he’s either very short, or the perspective is all sorts of wonky here), chats up Nick Fury about implementing the aforementioned Magneto Protocols.
Back in Genosha, we rejoin Psylocke. Her mind is bombarded with the thoughts of the nearby citizens (courtesy of Cortez’s kiss)… and boy are they hateful toward mutants. She actually winds up circled by a bunch, and beaten… until Beast hops in to save the day. Worth noting, Gambit gives Fabes a whack in da noggin with his quarterstaff.
Then… Magneto returns to pontificate s’more. He tells the X-Men that they should all be fighting for the same cause… and implores them to join up with him. Same ol’, same ol’.
Back at the Xavier School, Forge is making a frantic call to Storm’s Gold Strike Force to assist with the events in Genosha. Banshee is also there, and is wondering just what these Magneto Protocols might include. Forge is clueless… and, actually so is Professor X! We learn that Moira MacTaggert bolted out the place when the alarms started to sound, which gives Charles a bit of a pause.
Back to Genosha… where it’s more of the same. Psylocke is able to pierce into Magneto’s head with her psychic knife… again, courtesy of Cortez’s kiss. This victory is rather short-lived, however… as it’s here that the patron mutant of 90’s comics makes his presence felt! That’s right… this is Chrome! And he, well… coats the good guys in… chrome! Now they’re each worth a few bucks more…
Magneto and the gang retreat back to Asteroid M. Fabian Cortez reveals to Magnus that when he healed him last issue, he noticed a strange anomaly in his DNA. Some… genetic engineering, if you wee’ll. Magneto has a sneaking suspicion how it might’ve gotten there… and we’ll soon find out ourselves. Like… really soon.
But first, the Magneto Protocols! The Soviet’s launch a Plasma Cannon into space… and it’s headed toward Asteroid M.
Then, back on Earth, Professor Xavier happens across Moira getting sloshed at the Mansion’s boathouse. They chat briefly, before they are joined by the Master of Magnetism, and whisked away Wizard of Oz style… house and all.
While hovering in Orbit, Magneto demands some answers… or at least validation on his hunch. Turns out, while he was de-aged into infancy, following a weird issue of the Defenders…
Here’s Magneto’s recollection of the event..
… Moira took it upon herself to tinker with Baby Mags’ genetic code. He was just an innocent babe… and she intended to keep him that way. After some prodding, Moira comes clean and cops to the deed. Magneto… isn’t pleased. Though, this is a really interesting way to kind of handwave his babyface turn of the mid-80s. It’s also a pretty great way of bringing him back to the dark side.
While Magneto has Moira “chromed up” for her misdeeds, we take a brief aside to the Sakhalin Islands just East of the Soviet Union and North of Japan. We join Matsuo Tsurayaba as he takes advantage of last issue’s EM Pulse to swipe something called “Omega”. This ain’t Weapon Omega who we’ll be meeting in this month’s issue of Alpha Flight… but someone else, who we’ll meet in the flesh and coils in two-months time.
Back on Asteroid M, Cyclops and his Blue Team chat up Professor X… in order to inform him that, get this, they’ve joined up with Magneto! C’mon, get with the 90’s old man… “Magneto was right” and all that jazz.
Back at the Mansion, word has traveled fast… Storm’s Gold Team is running a simulation of them fighting the Blue Team… and, just like in sales and popularity… they get their butts kicked.
We wrap up with the Goldies geting a holographic visit from Nick Fury. He informs them of the Magneto Protocol being enacted… and warns that, when it hits… da whole thing’s gonna go boom. So, if they wanna save their Blue buds, it’s now or never!
Picture it… you’re some dopey kid who wandered into a comic shop a month ago… and was presented with the (then rare) opportunity to get in on volume of X-Men on the ground floor… issue number one. You read it… you might not get all the references, but you can mostly follow and enjoy it.
Then… issue two.
Now, I love this issue. I love how it calls back to (relatively) ancient happenings in an issue of Defenders. I love how it makes attempts to “explain away” Magneto’s time as a good guy. I love that it’s ambiguous enough, to where you’re not exactly sure what frame of mind Magneto’s actually in. Is he insane? Is he being manipulated? What’s his end game? Great questions and an amazing use of continuity-context to frame them.
But what of the “new reader”… because, back then, they hadn’t yet gone extinct. I was one of those new readers back then… and, boy howdy — my first run-up at this issue left me scratching my head like I had a nervous tic. In fact, I’m pretty sure my friends and I debated the cover* more than anything actually inside the ish… because, well… for those without any of the context (and I’d wager even some with), these are some pretty deep cuts.
Nowadays, I have a tremendous amount of appreciation for paying off reader loyalty… frankly, it’s something I wish Marvel (and DC) was better at these days. It’s astonishing how actually writing a story that pays of past continuity would be considered a “gutsy” move in [current year]. Then again, nowadays it’s kind of a big ask for even the pros to be aware of what happened in the books before they arrived.
Anyway… if you have some familiarity with Magneto’s time as a tot, you’ll likely get a lot out of this issue. If not… well, you might be a bit lost — helpfully, this isn’t still 1991… so, there are plenty of places to easily find the prerequisite knowledge to better appreciate it. And hey, Jim Lee’s near the top of his game here… so, there’s always pretty pictures to enjoy!
*Our cover debate was about whether or not Wolverine could cut his way out of… the cement, caramel, or whatever the X-Men were coated in. We were a very “literal” bunch, and didn’t realize it was supposed to be symbolic. We were gravely concerned that Wolverine already had his claws popped before being dipped in chocolate or whatever. We didn’t even notice Betsy a few folks over doing her best Venus de Milo.