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Aug 9

X-Men Blue #31-32: “Kings and Queens”

Posted on Thursday, August 9, 2018 by Paul in x-axis

Oh, so I thought I’d caught up, but it turns out this is a two parter.  I hadn’t noticed because it doesn’t really end, but issue #33 is “Surviving the Experience, part one”, so there you go.

Not that this is a repeat of the recent Weapon X storyline which was given two names for no reason.  “Kings and Queens” is separate from what follows.  But it’s more of a piece of connective tissue between actual storylines, and an example of the way Blue and Gold both sometimes lapse into a more traditional subplot-juggling style of team book.

The point of these two issues is to establish a split between Magneto and the time-travelling teenage X-Men, so that Magneto can be inspired to go off on a jaunt of his own next issue.  And it’s really more of a Magneto story than anything else, with writer Cullen Bunn returning to some of the themes of his earlier Magneto solo series.

Part one kicks off with a flashback, revisiting the scene at the start of this run where Magneto let Jean Grey read his mind, and she saw something that convinced her that the X-Men should work with him.  This time we see what she saw, which is a scene of young Magneto in Auschwitz, interrupted by Hitzig showing up to give a speech.  Hitzig, you may recall, comes from the Magneto solo series; he’s a Nazi officer who was a relatively minor figure in young Magneto’s life but who Magneto sees as the personification of all his childhood fears.

Broadly speaking, Hitzig gives a little speech about how the darkness in Magneto will always return to the fore in the end.  But since we’re in Magneto’s mind, Hitzig is basically here to speak for his subconscious – and it’s interesting that he’s the character who Magneto puts forward as a quasi-spokesman to deal with Jean.  Bunn’s basic idea in the Magneto solo series was not only that Magneto’s obsession with protecting his own people has turned him into an extremist in turn but that he’s very much aware of that fact.  The reason for the X-Men joining up with the Magneto, it turns out, is not that they thought he was on the right road, so much as that they wanted to be there to keep him under control when he inevitably snapped again.

Unfortunately, that didn’t work out so well, because the X-Men were off appearing in a Venom crossover during the “Mothervine” arc.  So the big idea here is that after being backed into a corner, and forced to kill some of the Mothervine mutants in self-defence, Magneto has indeed snapped, and the X-Men weren’t there to deal with the problem.  On top of that, Magneto also had a trip to the future between issues #27 and #28, which is apparently what we’re going to see in “Surviving the Experience”, so it seems something traumatic happens to him there as well.

This means an issue of him smashing up Hellfire Club branches as he goes looking for the traitorous Emma Frost, the mutant who was on the other side.  (Havok gets off the hook because Magneto apparently accepts that he wasn’t in his right mind.)

Jorge Molina draws this very well in the first part, but there’s a definite sense that the story doesn’t hit quite the scale it needs to.  The idea that Magneto can’t handle being forced to kill the people he was trying to defend, that’s fair enough.  And the idea that he’d want to take it out on Emma works too.  But the story is trying very hard to present this as Magneto crossing some sort of line, and he’s really not doing anything all that drastic beyond a bit of property damage at bad guy clubs.  Even if you’re going solely by the teen X-Men’s frame of reference, this is still the Magneto who conquered a South American country and threatened to nuke it when he was losing the fight.  This doesn’t feel quite as shocking as the story clearly wants it to be.  Nor does it really fit with the way Magneto was acting in issue #28, where he seemed a bit more under control.

Part two, with Andrés Genolet on art, is a bit more of an issue-long brawl.  Magneto has caught up with Emma, and the X-Men are trying to calm the situation, without much success.  The interesting bits are that, as well as being furious with Emma for betraying mutants, he’s angry that the X-Men weren’t there to keep him under control – if nothing else, this does offer some story justification for the decision to keep the X-Men out of their own book for a while.  Genolet’s art is a bit on the minimal side, but it’s helped by some strong emotion in his faces.

Still, it all just peters out.  The X-Men teleport Emma away, and Magneto just sort of calms down and decides to go and do something else instead.  There are some good ideas in here somewhere, but the story doesn’t seem to want them to come to a head just yet, and doesn’t have a particularly good way of kicking them into touch for now.

Bring on the comments

  1. Loz says:

    I accept that every writer has his own X-book and seems to be given pretty much free rein over what he wants to do but I wish the editors would exercise some control over the treatment of characters. The X-Men versus Inhumans crossover was not good, but it did place Emma Frost in a potentially interesting position of being even more extreme than Cyclops for a while, in the name of carrying on his cause, at least until he was resurrected. Instead we’ve just had her overexposed and tossed around from x-book to x-book with little care or interest about whether her characterisation in that book matched what went before. So we’ve had Emma: trying to start a war between X-Men and Inhumans for… reasons; Attacking X-Men and Inhumans with Sentinals for… reasons; Being Queen of the hastily set up seperate country for mutants when Nazi Steve Rogers ran America; Involved in some weird half-arsed ‘turn people into mutants’ scheme with Miss Sinister and her ‘let’s have a big mist that settles down over the earth and converts people’ scheme (Sound familiar Emma?) and now hiding from Magneto.

    They need to decide on a direction and outlook for her character (and Mystique too) and tell the writers to stick with it, but I guess that would be too hard.

  2. Dazzler says:

    Marvel has had next-to-no editorial vision for ages now. This is a running theme in Paul’s reviews.

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