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Fatal Attractions Revisited: X-Men #25


Dreams Fade

Writer: Fabian Nicieza
Penciler: Andy Kubert
Inker: Matt Ryan
Letterer: Bill Oakley
Colorist: Joe Rosas
Cover: Andy Kubert and Matt Ryan
Editor: Bob Harras
Published by: Marvel Comics
Cover Date: October 1993

The UN decides that they have to protect the world against Magneto, so they initiate “The Magneto Protocols.” Basically, this is an energy grid formed from a bunch of satellites, keyed to Magneto and his powers specifically. If Magneto enters Earth’s atmosphere, he will be rendered powerless. Effectively–this bans him from Earth. Of course, he doesn’t take it lightly–and generates a global EMP wave that causes untold death and destruction as Earth’s electronics are knocked out, if only (in this case) temporarily.

Xavier realizes that he cannot simply wait for peace…and after such a devastating global attack from Magneto, he organizes a special strike team of his X-Men to invade Avalon, to finally put an end to him. He leads this team himself, using a previously-unknown exo-armor powered by his psychic abilities, but which necessitates he take Jean along so they can stop Magneto together. He also takes Wolverine, Gambit, Rogue, and Quicksilver; leaving everyone else behind to carry on the dream. Once on Avalon (unknowingly assisted by Colossus), the group faces Magneto’s Acolytes until they’re teleported away–leaving things just the X-Men vs. Magneto. His back against the figurative wall, Magneto deals a horrific blow to Wolverine, which seals the deal for Xavier, who lashes out with his own powers to take away Magneto’s mind, leaving him in a vegetative state.

I’m pretty sure I got this issue the same evening I got Wolverine #75…and I vaguely recall stopping at KFC with my dad to get dinner on the way home. Probably what makes a memory like that stick while I can’t remember the first time I read earlier chapters of this story…this issue was one of the most definitive, key comics of my youth. I do not recall if I truly knew what was going to happen to Wolverine or not–though I have a vague recollection of a mail-order comics catalog giving something about it away.

At least at the time, this issue was extremely important, and from what I recall, really set the stage for the next few years of X-Men comics; from Magneto to the genesis of Onslaught, and through that to the subsequent years of things that came about from Onslaught and Heroes Reborn.

This issue–the “final battle” between Xavier and Magneto, was along with Magneto’s character in Age of Apocalypse and the 1990s animated series a crucial part of my understanding of Magneto. It’s actually kind of fascinating to me to consider that the Magneto in contemporary X-Men comics is the same character that appears here. Of course, we’re talking nearly two full decades of character development between this and now–but it goes to show what can be done with these characters and time. (While I’ve yet to really read any of the classic Rogue issues, I’m also interested in the fact that the Rogue I grew up reading was herself once a villain in the Marvel Universe. If her character can be handled as it has, it’s not too far fetched to think the same can be done with Magneto.)

I also recall thinking it sort of odd that such a huge thing would happen to Wolverine here rather than in his own title…but then, Wolverine wouldn’t even have a title of his own without the X-men. It also would not have made sense or allowed the conclusion of this issue if such a thing had happened off-panel or they tried to “hide” it to unveil in his own title. And here I am dancing around it as if an event from 19 years ago that was “resolved” 13 years ago is “spoiler territory.”

Magneto destabilizing and forcibly removing the Adamantium from Wolverine’s body was shocking, devastating…and hard to believe it hadn’t much been dealt with before: man of magnetism vs. man of metal bones.

The story itself in this issue is hard to look at critically, because this was such an impactful issue on me as a kid. I suppose that’s one way of suggesting that the story’s not bad. Some stuff I notice now, though seem petty quibbles–such as Xavier’s exo-suit (where’d it come from and why hadn’t it ever come up before–the characters seemed surprised he had it!), and I was reminded of Pryde of the X-Men the way the characters kinda peeled apart to fight smaller battles as the main group moved on. But this issue’s story gave a sense of urgency and finality for Xavier and his strike team, and perhaps it’s hindsight, but it just gave the whole issue an epic feel. Nicieza‘s narration and bits of dialogue also have stuck with me through the years, on the same level as Bane breaking Batman’s back in Batman #497 and Superman’s death in Superman #75.

And it begins with a small tug–an almost gentle pull–a harder yank–then a wrenching tear–

“We are all but bit players in a tragedy far larger than any of us…a tragedy called LIFE, Logan. But today, for you, perhaps for me–the curtain falls…and the play is FINISHED!”

The art is equally hard to look at critically–much as I’ve loved Jim Lee‘s X-Men art, this issue probably subconsciously became my standard of “good” X-Men art vs. “not-so-good” X-Men art in the ’90s. It’s also great to see a single art team rather than a whole mess of folks being involved; the consistency helps things flow, and I’m never taken out of the story, jarred by an art change or such.

This issue’s cover is one of the simpler ones, unlike the clutter on the X-Factor and Uncanny X-Men issues. This one, you see Magneto blasting Wolverine, and of course the excellent Gambit hologram. Of course, I like to think the Magneto hologram from UXM 304 would have been more fitting here, but it was appropriate for the X-Men’s oldest foe to be spotlighted on the anniversary issue of the series that counted back to the beginning. Even taking a look at the entire wraparound cover, things are pretty simple, so to speak…and very indicative of what happens in the issue, without giving it away in and of itself–we see Xavier and the rest of his strike team reacting to Magneto mid-attack on Wolverine who’s obviously in some trouble here.

This issue and Wolverine #75 are the heart of this event, for me; when I think of this story, it’s these two issues–Magneto vs. Wolverine, and then of the X-Men’s return-journey to Earth and Wolverine dealing with the aftermath of stuff. You can take away the previous three chapters and skip the sixth chapter without really losing anything of what I’ve thought of as Fatal Attractions. Offhand, next to the likes of X-Men #41 (the finale of Legion Quest) I can’t think of another single X-Men issue that’s had more impact on me and my X-Men reading.

If you find this in a bargain bin, I highly recommend it–you’ll do well with context and/or nostalgia driving you, but I daresay that even coming in cold but with a basic/generic understanding of X-Men, one can appreciate the enormity of what unfolds in this issue.

X-Men #25 Wraparound

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3 Responses

  1. […] X-Men #25  |  Wolverine #75  |  Excalibur #71 […]

  2. […] can’t remember when I first became aware of Quicksilver…it was probably around 1993’s X-Men #25 (part of the Fatal Attractions crossover). I recall a bit of ‘hype’ around […]

  3. […] My original post about X-Men #25 is archived here. […]

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