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Jul 15

Giant-Size X-Men: Magneto #1 annotations

Posted on Wednesday, July 15, 2020 by Paul in Annotations, x-axis

As always, this post contains spoilers, and page numbers go by the digital edition.

And before anyone asks, I haven’t read the Free Comic Book Day story, which isn’t available digitally. From the sound of it, it’s basically a bunch of cryptic teasers for X of Swords.

COVER / PAGE 1. Magneto, in shadow, looks at the camera.

PAGES 2-4. Magneto arrives at Mykines and asks to buy it from its owner.

Mykines is the westernmost of the Faroe Islands, which are about 200 miles north of Scotland. It does indeed have a lot of puffins. In real life, there’s a small village on the island, including a guest house for the small number of tourists (who are acknowledged in this scene, and who can reach the place by regular ferry and helicopter services). Most of the houses are now second homes; according to a BBC article about the Faroes written in 2018, the current permanent population is nine. The Greek-sounding name is thought to be a corruption of a Celtic term for “pig island”.

Mykines does have a lighthouse, but it’s been automated since 1970. It’s not quite as remote as this story makes out – it’s only a few miles from the rest of the Faroe Islands, after all, and they have a population of over 50,000. Hickman’s version of Mykines may not be entirely in line with the real one.

“Islands have been an interest of mine for quite some time. I’ve been collecting them for years.” Aside from Island M, which we’ve talked about before, Magneto also had a less impressive island base in the early Silver Age.

“There were … certain requirements regarding location, weather…” It’s not immediately obvious what would be so interesting or useful about this particular location. As for weather, the Faroes are basically wet, windy and cloudy, but they’re not that cold (the winter temperature is about 5 degrees celsius).

PAGES 5-6. Cast page and credits. There’s no story title, and this is by Jonathan Hickman and Ramón Pérez. The small print is reused from X-Men. There are no other data pages in this issue.

PAGES 7-10. In flashback, Emma Frost asks Magneto to find her an island.

Krakoa is seen clearly in page 7 panel 1 to be floating in the ocean, rather than being connected to the sea bed.

Saucier is new. It’s not technically clear whether his skills as a chef are a mutant power, or whether he’s just a guy with four arms who also happens to be a talented chef.

Emma’s plan is only vaguely hinted at, but she does say that it’s prompted by watching humanity’s response to what the mutants have been doing.

PAGES 11-15. Magneto waits patiently until Namor the Sub-Mariner shows up.

Namor has shown up in Hickman’s run before, refusing to get involved with Krakoa, and expressing some scepticism about what the real agenda was. That makes him one of a very small list of mutants to actively reject Krakoa. His attitude here is in line with that; he doesn’t buy in to the mythology of Krakoa (“Less special each and every day, I think”), and Magneto finds that response interesting. Of course, Namor is also just generally keen on running down anyone he’s talking to.

For whatever reason, Namor seems to instantly understand what Emma would want with his island (even though she’s only just come up with the idea herself).

“Gresh”. That’s an invented term. It’s apparently some sort of communication device.

PAGES 16-19. Namor and Magneto investigate a mystery in the Molloy Deep

The Molloy Deep is the deepest point in the Arctic Ocean. It’s east of Greenland, and it’s nowhere near Mykines.

Andromeda was an Atlantean who joined the Defenders in 1985, shortly before their book was cancelled. She’s been allied with Namor in the current Avengers run. Basically, she’s serving here as “other Atlantean who you’ve vaguely heard of”.

“It’s the spiral of the Old Kings of Atlantis. Uhari, I think.” The Uhari are an aquatic race from Hickman’s Fantastic Four run, who were suggested to be connected with the Atlanteans in some way. They were more visibly fish-like than the Atlanteans. In FF, they were one of three aquatic races living in the Peak, below Vostok Station in Antarctica.

This tentacle/spiral monster has distinctly cthulhuesque qualities to it, not unlike the decor of Island M back in the day. However, Namor identifies it as a kraken, a more conventional giant sea monster.

PAGES 20-23. Inside the Kraken, Magneto and Namor meet three aquatic women.

This seems to be the old three-fates trope. It’s all very cryptic. Magneto clearly breaks the intended format of the ritual by insisting on choosing the unspoken third option. The surviving crone appears to regard this as a disastrous result, which would at least explain why she was trying so hard to steer him away from it, but for some reason she also calls him a trickster, fraud and liar. That doesn’t seem to make sense, since all he did was to make a choice.

For whatever reason, Magneto apparently wins a magic key which can be used to seal up the underwater gate again. It’s strongly implied that this is much more significant (at least to the crones) than either Magneto or Namor appear to regard it as. Perhaps the crones are simply concerned that access to the giant sea monsters has fallen into the hands of people who are taking it rather casually. Nonetheless, we see Magneto put the key away for safekeeping later on.

PAGES 24-29. Magneto builds a citadel on Mykines and brings Emma through.

The obviously striking feature of this building is the giant Sentinel head that’s built into it – not something you’d have thought Emma would want as a design feature. Emma seems to be planning to invite people to come and live here, presumably building a power base independently of Krakoa. The fact that Magneto is willing to help her is curious in itself; evidently he understands her agenda to be in line with his.

“Apparently he won it gambling with some Danes after the Second World War.” The Faroe Islands have been a self-governing part of Denmark since 1948. Perhaps in the Marvel Universe Namor got hold of Mykines before that happened – although at that point there would have been over a hundred people living on the island.

PAGES 30-31. Trailers. The Krakoan (obviously) reads NEXT: FANTOMEX.

Bring on the comments

  1. Krzysiek Ceran says:

    ‘Aside from Island M, which we’ve talked about before, Magneto also had a less impressive island base in the early Silver Age.’
    …and Genosha.

  2. Paul says:

    True, though Genosha was on a much bigger scale than even Krakoa. It had full scale cities.

  3. Evilgus says:

    These annuals are very big on art, very thin on content aren’t they?

    I feel Marvel should have kept them as regular X-Men issues really, given how episodic/world-buildy that series has been anyway. One-shots give these slim stories far more undue prominence than they can carry.

  4. Rob says:

    I vaguely recall a four-armed chef appearing in bit parts in the Chuck Austen run — could it be the same character? Am I making that up or confusing it with the four-armed chef from Futurama?

  5. Dimitri says:

    @Rob

    I remember that as well. It was around the time Juggernaut’s subplot with Fishboy took center stage.

  6. Ryan says:

    I thought it was more that Namor was willing to do a favor for Emma, who he has a pleasant (for Namor) relationship with

  7. Alan L says:

    This is yet another issue in which a new base is set up. The X-men now have two floating islands, sort of conjoined (with the other island left mostly unexplored, one feels), a house on the moon, the Excalibur lighthouse, all of Otherworld, the ever-expanding Floo Network of Krakoan plant-gates, a plantation in the Savage Land, presumably Magneto’s Cthulu island, some kind of purchase in Shi’ar space (if we want to count Sam and Izzy’s apartment or whatever it is), various keeps on Krakoa––I’m sure I’m leaving something out––and now this new island, whose purpose we don’t even get to have hinted at in this allegedly-extra-special issue. We’ve had nearly a year of setup at this point, and scarcely any payoffs to name. It’s like the last roughly year’s–worth of X-men comics have amounted to arranging the start of a game of Risk, or a D&D map, adding forces to the board before play can begin. The main mysteries set up in HoX/PoX and alluded to in the early parts of Dawn of X have not been touched in the meantime. And it irks me that so many issues seem to end in the same, repetitive manner: the X-men gain a new advantage, a new base, or a new ally. This is less the case with the other writers and their books, but in his own books Hickman seems only interested in populating the game board, showing the mutants in a better position, and faintly, faintly hinting that things aren’t right with Krakoa in general. If this inordinate setup is building towards some dramatic turn, then the pace Hickman has chosen for this story is truly glacial. He has yet to make a move which I would say develops the drama inherent in his promised storyline.

    This “Giant–Sized” issue does no more to develop his story. And I think that Hickman’s endless rehashing of the same structure, to the same ends, in comic after comic, is wearing quite thin. What is the base at the end of this story, but “mystery boxes?” We have only “mystery boxes” so far as the result of a long run of these stories. When is Hickman going to get to any point, at all?

  8. James says:

    The Uhari were modelled directly on the design for men of Namor’s species in the very early Submariner stories.

  9. Leirus says:

    Oh. I did not get from the comic that the key sealed that specific door, I thought Magneto was closing the door as he opened it, with his powers. I thought maybe the key opens something on Island M, where you can see the same tentacular designs and statues of the Uhari. Island M is also the place where Illyana was first kidnapped, and that could be interesting to Hickman because it ties Atlantis and Limbo. As for the Sentinel head,it is impaled in a two pronged thingie. Looks like a trophy to me:”Here we kill Sentinels”.Like a Dragon skull in a fantasy series.

  10. Ben says:

    My take was that Emma is building a fake anti-mutant organization of some kind to lure in humans who want to hurt Krakoa.

    I’m sure we’ll find out if I’m right in 2023.

  11. Chris V says:

    My guess was that maybe Magneto and Emma have figured out that Xavier and Moira’s goals aren’t in the interests of mutants, and that Emma was going to use the island as a safe haven for refugees from Krakoa.
    That was just a first assumption.

    I think maybe some of these dangling plots being introduced by Hickman may pay off before 2030, but I’m unsure.

  12. CJ says:

    Yeah, the Sentinel head looked more like a mockery a trophy, like a stag head mounted over a mantelpiece.

    I was pretty disappointed about this issue after looking forward to it back in April. I bet Magneto must be feeling unusual in a world where Xavier basically agrees with him and is actively working with him. Would he feel his role as revolutionary is usurped? Did he really just want Charles to agree that he was right all along?

    I would’ve appreciated anything to that degree. I thought Namor’s presence meant we would at least be interesting as a counterpoint to Krakoa.

    Nothing was particularly bad about this issue. And with the delays from the pandemic, the slow development is actively detrimental.

    It felt like I was reading X-Men Unlimited back in the 90s, unfortunately.

  13. Chris V says:

    The thing is that Krakoa isn’t supposed to be Magneto’s dream.
    It’s meant to be a combination of Xavier, Magneto, and Apocalypse’s visions for mutants.
    Moira said that Magneto’s ideology was wrong, as was Xavier’s ideology.
    The major problem is that it does seem like Krakoa seems much closer to Magneto’s ideology than Xavier.
    It seems like most of Xavier’s dream has been lost.

  14. Luis Dantas says:

    Illyana was first kidnapped by Arcade’s agents at some point around Uncanny #140, wasn’t her? It happened off-panel, but the implication was that she was taken from the farm where Colossus parents live and work. I don’t think Island M was involved with that situation, although it happened not too long before we met the Island for the first time.

    It was funny seeing Namor at his most arrogant being humbled so casually. And despite myself, I liked the depiction of Magneto as well. That doesn’t happen very often.

  15. sagatwarrior says:

    @Chris V says:

    “It seems like most of Xavier’s dream has been lost.”

    I feel that this new venture is 45% Magneto, 45% Xavier, with Moira rounding it out with her powers. Whereas with Magneto, his plans ranged from complete isolation from humans or the complete and total annihilation of them. Xavier, on the other hand,is a little bit more pragmatic, trading with those nations with economic aid and life extending pharmaceuticals that bend the knee to Krakoa’s will and being permitted national sovereignty and immunity. Xavier knows that time is on the mutants’s side and has prepared contingency plans after contingency plans should humans act out. Basically, Magneto and Xavier doing the bad cop / good cop roles, respectively. Xavier has just decided to incorporate some of Magneto’s goals into his vision. When you do something over and over again, expecting a different result, and never getting that result, you tend to change your methods.

  16. Chris V says:

    Magneto has been portrayed differently by different writers.
    Stan Lee portrayed him as a genocidal maniac.
    After Claremont and up-to at least after Morrison, Magneto was portrayed in the way you describe.

    However, Chris Claremont’s vision of Magneto was close to how Krakoa us being presented, especially if you look at God Loves, Man Kills where Magneto spelled out his goals for mutants and humans.
    He said that mutants should set up a benevolent dictatorship, using their powers to take care of humans’ needs, creating an utopian society for humans (free of war, hunger, poverty), and that humans would be left alone as long as they respected mutants as the superior species.
    This all sounds very much like Krakoa.

  17. Paul says:

    Arcade kidnapped Illyana from Russia, but the story where she’s kidnapped by Belasco and returns as Magik takes place on Island M.

  18. Chris V says:

    I agree with you that Xavier’s plans needed to change after all these years, but the thing is that Xavier’s dream was working during the Morrison years. He did decide to alter his plans, while keeping the nobility of his own ideology, after he revealed that he was a mutant. Then, everyone just ignored that afterwards.
    We had the “no more mutants” stupidity, and then it seemed like mutants were their own worst enemies for years, before Xavier eventually died.

  19. sagatwarrior says:

    True, Magneto has been portrayed inconsistently over the years. Even in House of M, Magneto was seen as a world renowned hero and benevolent autocrat over his own mutant nation, with mutants being in control and the majority of the Earth’s population. Humans were able to coexist with the mutants overall with minor skirmishes. As far as Xavier goes in the regular MU, his halo has become tarnished in recent years (unfortunately). I know that they felt the need to try to show him other than being a mutant Pollyanna. Just wished they didn’t make him look amoral just so that other people could look better.

  20. Luis Dantas says:

    It may be interesting to learn how Fantomex fares these days, after all that happened with him and Xavier in Astonishing a few years ago.

  21. neutrino says:

    @sagatwarrior says,

    ” Xavier knows that time is on the mutants’s side and has prepared contingency plans after contingency plans should humans act out.”

    As PoX #6 showed, time is actually on the side of humans.

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