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Oct 21

X-Men: The Trial of Magneto #3 annotations

Posted on Thursday, October 21, 2021 by Paul in Annotations

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

“Schrödinger’s Corpse”
by Leah Williams, Lucas Werneck, David Messina & Edgar Delgado

COVER / PAGE 1. Magneto, with the scales of justice balancing his helmet against the Scarlet Witch’s headdress. The perspective is a bit confusing – it doesn’t seem to be drawn as if it’s tilting one way or the other, but the pan with the headdress seems to be resting on the ground. I’m honestly not sure whether it’s meant to be balanced or not.

PAGES 2-6. The Scarlet Witch is overwhelmed, and Northstar attacks Magneto.

The Scarlet Witch returned at the end of the last issue, assured everyone that she was all right and kissed the Vision while saying that she wanted to “get back to normal”. The implication, confirmed later in the issue, is that she was resurrected from an old back-up. That’s essentially confirmed in this story, where Wanda appears to have been resurrected with her memories reset to some earlier point in continuity. She evidently believes that she’s still in a relationship with the Vision – I’ll come back to when exactly this is meant to be.

The Vision says that he had “not finished grieving my late wife” at the start of this story. He’s referring to Virginia, from the Tom King / Gabriel Hernandez Walta Vision series that ran from 2015-16 (long, long after this Wanda’s memories end). She died in Vision vol 2 #12, roughly five years ago now. Vision was seen working on a new body for her at the end of that series, but nothing ever came of it. At any rate, it seems a slightly odd thing for him to say about a character who’s been dead for five years, even allowing for Marvel’s sliding timeline.

Northstar, meanwhile, ignores the A-plot entirely in order to focus on Magneto, who did indeed threaten his husband last issue in order to make the Avengers go away. He was (just about) talked by Jean into staying calm but clearly he sees Wanda’s return as a diversion from the more pressing cause of standing up for Kyle.

Northstar claims that he’s “been enhanced since last we [he and Magneto] fought”. I’m not quite sure when Northstar last fought Magneto before the Krakoan era, but it may have been “Eve of Destruction” from X-Men vol 2 #111-113 and Uncanny X-Men vol 1 #392-393. That was the fill-in arc immediately before the Morrison/Casey era, where a makeshift team of X-Men (including Northstar) fought Magneto in Genosha. I’m honestly not sure what he means by enhancement – maybe it’s something that happened in an Alpha Flight story.

PAGE 7. Recap and credits. The title, of course, refers to Schrödinger’s cat – the point, presumably, being that the Scarlet Witch is both alive and dead simultaneously, as we see later on.

PAGE 8-9. The Scarlet Witch fails to recognise Wiccan and Speed.

Wiccan and Speed are the reincarnated children of Wanda and Vision (which is a long, complicated story we needn’t go into).

Curiously, Wiccan identifies this character as not “entirely” Wanda, “[l]ike she’s from the past or something”. If he’s simply referring to the memory gaps, then that’s not normally seen as affecting the genuineness of a resurrection in the Krakoan era – Laura Kinney has far bigger memory gaps than this, thanks to the time-dilation storyline in X-Men. It’s possible that Wiccan is picking up on something to do with Wanda not being fully resurrected, as we see later on.

Nonetheless, Jean and Rachel confirm for us that this is a resurrected Wanda, not an impostor, using what was presumably the most recent back-up on Cerebro. It’s unclear why that would be the most recent back-up, since it was long, long before the point when Wanda was revealed to be a non-mutant. What changed at that point to stop further back-ups being made? (Or, if the later back-ups were destroyed, why not this one too?)

We see from page 8 that Wanda believes Magneto is her father, so her memories do extend up beyond Vision & The Scarlet Witch vol 1 #4 from 1982. On the other hand, Rachel says that Wanda “doesn’t even remember her sons’ (not merely that she doesn’t recognise them), so apparently this is before Wanda created the kids in Vision & The Scarlet Witch vol 2 #12 in 1986. So far as I can see, her memories could come from anywhere in there.

PAGE 10. Wanda’s memory is restored.

Kind of. Although Rachel and Jean say they’re restoring her memory, it seems that what they’re actually doing is giving her a crash course on her forgotten history. On one level this is obviously the right thing to do: everyone else knows this information and it’s going to colour how they see her. But the failure to anticipate that this sort of infodump might call for a bit of aftercare is rather baffling. Don’t these people deal with minds for a living?

There are six panels showing the information that Wanda is provided with. Several of them are reproductions from other comics.

  • Panel 1 is a detail from the cover of 1990’s Avengers West Coast #56. It’s Wanda as the “Dark” Scarlet Witch turning on her teammates after her mental breakdown following the loss of her marriage to Vision (who had just suffered a factory re-set, basically).
  • Panel 2 is a detail from page 18 panel 1 of Avengers #503 from 2004. It’s Wanda being confirmed as the villain behind “Avengers Disassembled”, having just gone mad and destroyed the Avengers.
  • Panels 3 and 5 don’t feature Wanda at all, and presumably have something to do with the plot instead.
  • Panel 4 is Wanda depowering most of the world’s mutants, from page 23 panel 1 of House of M #7, from 2005.
  • Panel 6, rather oddly, is a detail from Empyre: X-Men #1, page 4 panel 4. It shows Wanda on her quest to resurrect Genosha’s mutants, which winds up backfiring and raising a zombie army. I’m not sure how either Jean or Rachel would know about this, though.

PAGES 11-18. Everyone fights kaiju.

The “war captains” mentioned by Cyclops on page 12 panel 3 are the standard Krakoan defence leaders. It’s a little odd that Cyclops puts Northstar in charge of one group, given that he’s the leader of a (notionally) non-combatant investigation team.

The tree houses on page 15 all look a bit miniature even compared to the trees, so the scale of the whole thing feels off.

PAGE 19. Data page of sorts, along the line of the similarly format-bending text pages in earlier issues.

PAGES 20-23. Wanda-Prime and her attacker.

Meanwhile, the “real” Scarlet Witch is still in the limbo dimension where we saw her in issues #1-2. She says that part of her departed and that she’s lost some of her memories, so the implication seems to be that the resurrection process has successfully drawn part of her back to earth, but left the rest of her soul behind.

Wanda’s attacker is eventually revealed as an older version of herself (wearing the Silver Age version of her headdress). Since Wanda has already been split into a younger pre-motherhood version of herself, I assume we’re doing a three witches schtick here with the traditional folklore trio of maiden, mother and crone, along with Wanda literally coming to terms with herself.

PAGE 24. Trailers. The Krakoan reads NEXT: TIME TO FACE YOURSELF.


Bring on the comments

  1. Uncanny X-Ben says:

    What a weird choice to read n this alongside Inferno.

    Kind of sucks the juice out of the whole thing.

    Like a lot of the Krakoan Era, I’m confused between what story beats are supposed to be confusing or if it’s just bad plotting and characterization.

    Everyone seems kind of high on dentist gas.

    Are we supposed to read something in to the total lack of the Five and any concrete evidence that they actually caused this resurrection?

    Why are the Avengers being so casual about the whole thing?

    Did anyone maybe think jamming a bunch of horribly traumatizing information into the head of a mentally ill Chaos magic god was a bad idea?

    Is anyone ever going to ask if Speed is a mutant?

    But hey at least we finally get to see where all the people on Krakoa who never matter live.

    In weirdly sized fantasy miniature houses from the 80s.

    PS- I’ve said it before, but I hate how powered up the characters are right now. And how powerful the telepaths always are.

  2. Luis Dantas says:

    It seems to me that Wiccan is correct in his assessment even without whatever else may be happening to Wanda.

    A ressurrected Wanda that is missing so many of her memories and passions is very much not entirely the Wanda that Wiccan and Speed know. At that point she had not even received the crash course of her own last few years from Rachel and Jean.

  3. Michael says:

    Why would there be such a long gap between Wanda’s backups? Wanda was revealed not to be a mutant in Uncanny Avengers 2, in 2015. That’s 29 years in readers’ time. If the idea is that the backups were done very infrequently before Krakoa, then why doesn’t anyone else who died before Krakoa suffer from this problem? Synch doesn’t seem to have lost his memories of Jubilee or Emma Frost. Leah Williams seems to be the only writer to have resurrected characters lose large chunks of their memories.Under every other writer, the resurrectees lose hours or at most a couple days of their memories. Prodigy lost weeks if not months of his memories and now Wanda lost YEARS of her memories.
    If it’s possible to resurrect someone from years-old backups. then why can’t the X-Men just resurrect Madelyne Pryor pre-Goblin Queen? (The solicits for upcoming issues seem to show her in her Goblin Queen costume.)
    Presumably, Rachel and Jean could scan the memories of everyone present for experiences they shared with Wanda and then download those memories into Wanda. The problem is that there would still be HUGE gaps in Wanda’s memories, since Wanda would lose her knowledge of everything that happened when none of the people on Krakoa were present.

  4. Uncanny X-Ben says:

    Oh I forgot to mention the art this issue.

    In general pretty poor.

    And the celebrity likenesses/tracing were very apparent.

  5. Mathias X says:

    Are those kaiju new? They look fairly familiar, which could be a function of their genericness.

    That said, this issue was a mess. I don’t know what editorial does — I’ve heard some people suggest parts of the book were re-written by the editors ala Leah’s last X-Factor issue — but it clearly doesn’t seem to involve reading the issue for coherency before it goes to print.

    The most laughably bad sequence for me was everyone going to dinner and Captain America turning to Magneto to say: “Don’t think we forgot about your confession!” I suppose he’s hungry, but this almost feels like a parody of the hero vs hero trope and not a legitimate sequence.

    I really looked forward to this issue, too. I like Leah Williams, but this was dispiriting.

  6. Si says:

    This story seems glacially slow. Three issues in and everyone is still standing around going “huh, what happened?”

  7. Jerry Ray says:

    What a disaster. Forget the murder mystery and all that stuff, let’s go fight some big monsters from out of nowhere. Let’s put in a couple of “data” pages that I couldn’t even decide if they were an obscure ad or part of the story. This books is off the rails and straight trash.

  8. Rob says:

    Did Northstar get a power up when he was resurrected by the Hand in “Enemy of the State”? Or when Carey brought him back in that X-Men Annual with Exodus?

  9. Ben Johnston says:

    I have to agree with the consensus. There were already too many characters wandering around last issue for anyone to be able to have a sensible conversation about what’s happening. Now we suddenly have kaiju attacking Krakoa and half the book taken up by a generic fight scene? And where are the thousands of other mutants with combat experience who live here?

    Magic storylines don’t tend to be my favourites, but I’ll withhold judgment until the story is over. Definitely less interested than I was after the first issue, though.

    Calling this miniseries “The Trial of Magneto” is starting to seem like it borders on false advertising.

  10. Suzene says:

    @Rob – The power up was Carey, but it was during the Supernovas arc prior to the annual. Northstar was still showing enhanced strength and durability as of Liu’s Astonishing run and Williams still has him able to (theoretically) hit light speed, so presumably those adjustments never got reversed.

    And yeah, I’m one of those that suspect there was a heavy editorial hand at work. Even aside from the fact that this mini only exists due to editorial and marketing meddling, Williams has always seemed a lot more interested in character-focused conflict. The Avengers and Wiccan stepping into the story, the mystery and investigative elements taking a back seat to a sudden a sudden, no-stakes brawl, it all feels way off from how this writer usually leans.

  11. ASV says:

    Calling this miniseries “The Trial of Magneto” is starting to seem like it borders on false advertising.

    It rivals Prelude to Schism in both misnaming and incoherence.

  12. Chris V says:

    This is how they handle trials on Krakoa.
    It’s a new society, they are still experimenting and learning.

    I feel most of the X-books have been on autopilot since Hickman announced he was leaving.
    There really isn’t anything important that can be done with any of the concepts until it’s revealed how “Inferno” is ending.

  13. Luke says:

    “Like a lot of the Krakoan Era, I’m confused between what story beats are supposed to be confusing or if it’s just bad plotting and characterization.”
    Quoted for truth.

    I just read the entire Austen run this week for the first time, and this issue didn’t feel much different.

    I really liked X Factor. As Mathias and Suzene said, this doesn’t feel like the same writer.

  14. Si says:

    I wonder if the original X-Factor story was kind of the same as this, but you’d have bits and pieces of what happened to Scarlet Witch and what Magneto’s up to, interspersed with complimentary/contrasting B plots about Daken and Aurora, Prodigy’s personal mystery, Eye Boy being cute, and everything else we’ve been seeing in the regular story.

    Then the editors took that story, yanked out all the bits about X-Factor, backfilled the subsequent gaps with some stuff about kaiju and Avengers being cross and whatnot, and called it a day.

    It would explain a thing or two.

  15. Uncanny X-Ben says:

    To be fair that while they’re very generic and uninteresting, I assume the Kaiju are Wanda.

    Also I hate that non-nerd characters are calling them Kaiju now instead of “oh god giant fucking monsters.”

    Even so they’re all reacting to them like an enormous threat, which I don’t really buy.

    The Avengers just fought a bunch of Celestials like six months ago in sliding time.

  16. Bengt Strand says:

    This incoherent mess of a story at least got the terrible art it deserves.

  17. Evilgus says:

    ” anyone maybe think jamming a bunch of horribly traumatizing information into the head of a mentally ill Chaos magic god was a bad idea”

    That stood out massively to me too! Why not just make Wanda lose the plot all over, again. And the dip in art. The scale of the monsters was all over the place.

    I feel this would have worked better threaded over several issues through Williams’ X-Factor as a developing mystery, as per her original intention (hence the random character beats for Eyeboy and Kyle of all people).

    There’s obviously a solid story struggling under editorial fiat somewhere here. What’s the objective – to resurrect Wanda excised of “the bad stuff”?

  18. Thom H. says:

    Poor Wanda — if writers stopped making her crazy then they could also stop trying to redeem her. She gets pulled in such extreme directions all the time, and it’s obliterating any actual character she’s accrued over the years. It’s going to have to happen in the MCU now, too, since the events of WandaVision.

    Weirdly, she seems like one of the characters hardest hit by the effort to make the comics more like the movies/TV. First Magneto’s retconned out as her father. Now she’s being reset as a novice Chaos magician even though she’s been around for decades.

  19. Chris V says:

    Wanda was already fixed by the events of her solo series written by James Robinson, which was probably the best use of Wanda.
    Instead of moving on from that, now Marvel seems fixated on making her in to this version of the character again…apparently so she can be fixed again…?

    She’s not even being used full-time in any comic series which makes this comic even more baffling.

  20. Thom H. says:

    She’s been rehabilitated so many times it’s ridiculous. Robinson, like you mentioned, but Buziek and Perez undid a lot of the damage done earlier in West Coast Avengers by John Byrne. Then Allan Heinberg partially pulled her back again after Avengers Disassembled and M-Day. If I recall correctly, Heinberg made her a pawn of Dr. Doom in that mini-series, which is better than full on genocidal maniac but still not great.

    I realize she belonged to a group called the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, but she’s never actually been bad. She just has a nebulous power and is B-list enough to be able to jerk around.

  21. Krzysiek Ceran says:

    I did like the bit at the beginning, where a newly arrived Wanda is immediately shouted down by two men explaining to her what probably happened to her.

    Subtle meta-commentary it is not, but I liked it nonetheless.

    Though it’s kind of undercut when immediately after that two women scar her telepathically.

    Definitely a weaker issue, but I’m still interested in the whodunnit and whatexactlydunnit of it all.

  22. Michael says:

    @Chris V, Thom H- it’s worth noting that in Wanda’s most recent high profile appearances- Empyre and Darkhold- her attempts to “help” the heroes wound up making the situations much worse.

  23. Thom H. says:

    @Michael: Good point. Unpredictability has been a feature of her powers for a long time. Except instead of accidentally making a branch fall on Captain America’s head or whatever, like in the ’60s, now she’s unintentionally raising millions of zombies.

    Also, her “accidents” seem to happen increasingly because of her poor decision making. Back in the day she didn’t have fine control over her powers, so it was hard to blame her. But now she’s killing, depowering, and bringing back from the dead willy-nilly with no real thought to the consequences.

    I honestly don’t mind the unpredictable powers part — that makes Wanda more like Longshot or Domino, which is interesting especially in a team dynamic. But do we have to assassinate her character in the process? It’s like “unpredictable powers” has shifted into “unpredictable behavior,” which is less fun. I personally blame Bendis.

  24. Chris V says:

    Right. That’s sort of our point. This has become the default setting for Wanda’s character.
    Then, there is another book to fix Wanda again.
    The cycle will repeat.

    That Robinson Scarlet Witch series was an excellent comic that carved out a place for Wanda in the Marvel Universe, moving away from how she’s been misused since the Byrne West Coast days.
    Instead of Marvel picking up on that much more interesting characterization for Wanda, it is just back to the same old thing with her again.

    Maybe she would work better actually being dead at this point, instead of another attempt to rehabilitate her (apparently) with this book.

  25. Mark coale says:

    To all the Wanda fans, us old Hank Pym fans know your pain all too well. One half step forward, three steps back.

  26. Ronnie Gardocki says:

    I thought Hank Pym merging with Ultron could’ve been interesting until subsequent writers took pains to establish Hank was 100% absolutely dead and gone.

  27. Mary says:

    At this point I’m convinced Williams’ original pitch for this story is radically different from what’s presented here. Characters feel extremely unnatural, the pacing is wonky, the writing doesn’t feel like Williams’. Kind of tired of watching Marvel editorial butcher her work tbh.

  28. alsoMike says:

    The part with Rachel & Jean did read as confusing to me too, like they’re just inputting information or their own memories of events. BUT considering this is basically X-Factor where Rachel has been using her chronoskimming powers a lot, I think this could partially be a use of that power as well. Rachel, with added psychic support, probably could cram a bunch of “objective” history of an object/person into someone. But then again, this is a Wanda clone body which didn’t experience those things, so the theory doesn’t entirely work. Although maybe if backup restoration does involve some partially restored souls, like this issue is the strongest indicator of yet, maybe a partial soul is enough to grab onto and view timestream events of. I don’t know. There’s No-Prize wiggle room there and we’re probably not meant to think about it to much.
    Unfortunately when other things are confusing as well, everything adds up to a somewhat frustrating reading experience.

  29. Aro says:

    My guess is that the pages drawn by Werneck (the first five and the last four) were mostly written and plotted by Williams, and the pages drawn by Messina were more driven by the editors.

    Pages 1-2 establish Wanda’s disorientation and the Avenger’s mistrust of her. This is boilerplate stuff, laying out narrative questions that would presumably be developed over the course of the issue.

    Pages 3-5 are mostly character beats with Northstar attacking Magneto, and then Kyle defusing the situation by announcing that dinner is ready. This feels mostly like William’s voice, with a focus on the X-Factor characters, interpersonal dynamics and quirky plotting. I think an artist like David Baldeon would probably have sold the comedy of the beat with Kyle much better.

    Pages 7-9 are where Messina takes over, and these scenes feature shockingly little character acting, as everyone just stands around.

    These pages feel like the artist was given editorially mandated plot beats, with the dialogue added later. We tick off exposition, but none of it feels grounded in character, story or themes. On Page Six we see Tommy and Bobby (who has appeared from nowhere), on Page Seven, Jean and Rachel confirm that this is an younger backup of Wanda, and on Page Eight they restore her memories. None of this seems in-character. and the stated reason for restoring her memories is that Wanda doesn’t remember her children, but we don’t see her experiencing any memories of them.

    Pages 11-18 are the kaiju attack, which is presumably triggered by Wanda regaining her memories, but comes off as padding. The storytelling is unclear- there seems to be a bit where Polaris has one of the kaiju lured to the Boneyard where she uses her magnetic powers to trap it with material from the building. The character bits mainly involve the Avengers and X-Men working together, but there’s no sense that any of the themes or questions set up earlier in the series are being addressed. The level of craft in this section is about what you’d expect for a third-rate promotional comic for an Avengers-themed cereal or something. These pages almost seem like they’ve been repurposed from another story, or an action sequence the artist had in his portfolio.

    The pages with the Scarlet Witch that end the issue feel more like Williams’ work, but they are so disconnected from anything else in the issue, that they don’t register as anything meaningful.

  30. Michael says:

    @alsoMike- But Rachel being able to download lost memories using her chronoskimming raises the question of why she’s never been able to do it on any of the other occasions the X-Men needed access to lost memories. In Hellions, nobody had a clue about Sinister stealing Tarn’s DNA because Greycrow, Havok and Kwannon lost their memories when Sinister killed them. In Inferno, nobody knows the schematics of Orchis’s base because Wolverine lost his memories when Orchis killed him.

  31. Evilgus says:

    The bit where Lorna uses the metallic Boneyard to wrap around the demon monster thing was so unclear and in such a small panel – surely that’s a splash page, if we’re establishing Lorna as a big hitter?

    Also as someone who has no idea what a kaiju is or the implication of their arrival other than generic demon thing, I’d have species some kind of in-page explanation.

  32. Mathias X says:

    >> Also as someone who has no idea what a kaiju is or the implication of their arrival other than generic demon thing, I’d have species some kind of in-page explanation.

    Kaiju are, basically, Godzilla monsters.

  33. Dave says:

    “Is anyone ever going to ask if Speed is a mutant? ”

    Charles must want to avoid the embarrassment of Cerebro getting it wrong again when it’s retconned.

  34. Uncanny X-Ben says:

    Maybe they’re all the Inhumans and he’s just been making all this shit up.

  35. Si says:

    That would be great. If every single person in the Marvel Universe, from Xavier to J Jonah Jameson to Dorma, was an Inhuman in the same way everyone outside of Africa is part Neanderthal. There’s no such thing as mutants, or even powers derived from mysterious serums, it’s all down to Kree messing around with us a million years ago.

  36. Uncanny X-Ben says:

    Maybe there are just particles of terrigen crystals in everything, like plastic.

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