After a big relaunch in 1991, the X-Men were more popular (and more populous) than ever before, but when their worst enemy returns with bad intentions and a lack of restraint, even the team’s heaviest hitters might not make it out in one piece.  It’s Fatal Attractions, y’all!  Your Major Spoilers (Retro) Review of X-Men #25 awaits!

X-Men25CoverX-MEN #25
Writer: Fabian Nicieza
Penciler: Andy Kubert
Inker: Matt Ryan
Colorist: Joe Rosas
Letterer: Bill Oakley
Editor: Bob Harras
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: $3.50
Current Near-Mint Pricing: $4.00

Previously in X-Men: Presumed dead in battle, the evil mutant known as Magneto has returned from yet another certain oblivion, reactivating his asteroid headquarters and sending out his Acolytes to wreak havoc on the various X-teams.  Cable has been soundly thrashed, the government-sponsored X-Factor team barely got away alive (and that mostly thanks to their membership including Magneto’s own son Quicksilver), while stalwart X-Man Colossus has turned his back on the team and joined the Acolytes.  Now, Charles Xavier must finally confront his oldest friend and his worst enemy before Magneto makes things even worse…

Spoiler Alert: He’s gonna make things worse.

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Thanks to the uniting efforts of S.H.I.E.L.D. commander Nick Fury, the countries of the world have rolled out their ‘Magneto Protocol,’ an electromagnetic protective field encircling the planet.  It’s a clever idea, but the Master of Magnetism also has command of electromagnetic forces, setting off a massive E-M pulse in orbit, wiping out electricity around the world.

Playing with the implications of this, by the way, Magneto probably just murdered hundreds of thousands of people, shutting off life support systems, crashing planes, blacking out ships and automobiles that would then crash…  It’s a litany of murderous intent, and one that gets pretty much no examination in these pages (save for a word balloon that seems to be hastily lettered) transitioning instead to what the X-Men are gonna do about it…

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This issue’s art is handled by the very talented Andy Kubert who, like all X-Men artists of the era, is aping the style of Jim Lee after his Image Comics exit.  Kubert, however, is talented enough to make it all work, and let his own art-style shine through the mandated X-Men house-style.  (He is much better at it than Whilce Portacio ever was, I can tell ya that for free.)  While all the X-Men are troubled by their Professor’s new lethal attitude, the three original X-Men present prepare to take their protests directly to Xavier, only to find that he’s more prepared for war than they ever thought possible…

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One of the wonderful parts of Fabian Nicieza’s work is how literate and well-written it is, but this issue is wordy as all hell, and not a panel goes unadorned without some sort of philosophical claptrap, including Cyclops’ assertion that Professor Xavier isn’t exactly a field op.  Of course, Charles has an answer for that complaint as well…

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No, Cyclops.  He doesn’t.  And the shock on the faces of his team when he reveals his secret anti-Magneto plan (not revealed to us, the readers) shows that something serious is up.  Buttressed by the presence of the other team leader, Storm, Cyclops again tries to stop the Professor from going on his suicide mission, only to be beaten back by the sheer weight of their mentor’s verbiage…

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It was Chris Claremont who turned the X-Men from teenage superheroes to larger metaphor, but even his purple prose doesn’t always reach the level of this issue’s talky-talky, with The Beast quoting ten panels worth of Aeschylus as the Professor and team teleport out.  The carefully chosen team of the most popular specially talented X-Men make their way into Asteroid M unseen, thanks to a little inside work by Acolyte Colossus, and Quicksilver takes the lead…

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Weird metal battle armor: Apparently it’s great for running super-fast!  In stores now!  Using the ship’s own systems, Professor Xavier teleports the Acolytes on-board back down to Earth, and their stealth mission is going perfectly…

…until Magneto changes the rules.

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Those in the know will recall that an elder Magneto was able to hold off the entire original X-Men team single-handedly (mostly, kinda), and a de-aged Magneto nearly took out the New X-Men, but this new, supercharged, enraged young Magneto is a whole new animal, taking out Wolverine, entrapping Rogue and blasting Gambit through a wall with a wave of his mighty hand…

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While his son and former paramour attack him physically, Professor Xavier and Jean attack him mentally, trying to keep his mind occupied enough that he can’t focus, but it isn’t entirely successful as Magneto’s anger overwhelms him.  The former Erik Lensherr decides to murder his own son (or at least, his son at the time of this writing), leaving him open to a backstab from Wolverine.

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Your bit of X-Men history: Wolverine first encountered Magneto in X-Men #104, back in the spring of 1977.  In the fifteen-plus years of X-Men comics since, he has not learned the lesson that men full of ferromagnetic metal should not angrily confront men who control magnetism.

This is the issue where that lesson is brought home with force…

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Another (highly coincidental) Aeschylus quote, and the infamous moment in X-Men history is done: The metal that encircles and infuses Wolverine’s bones (by this point, people at Marvel had realized that the skeletal system is an important, living part of the body, and thus can’t be “replaced”) is ripped out through his skin.  My favorite part of this page is that it gives a good three-minute monologue (read it out loud, Faithful Spoilerites) while simultaneously maintaining that it takes place too fast for Wolverine to even cry out in pain.  As Jean Grey rushes to the side of the man that 90’s X-books maintained she was secretly in love with, Charles Xavier steps forward to face his oldest friend, and take out his own rage on the man he once called a brother…

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With two of their number and the man they came to battle slowly dying on the deck of Asteroid M, the X-Men realize that they have no way home, until Colossus steps out of the shadows to reveal he has summoned Bishop to fetch them back to Westchester.

Piotr Rasputin will not, however, be coming home with them…

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With this bodycount, the ‘Fatal Attractions’ crossover is almost done, save for an issue full of recriminations, revelations (*coughboneclawscough*) and an immediate transition into the ‘Bloodlines’ crossover, where the injury of this tale gets a little injury on top, thanks to the Mighty Avengers.  1993 is, in my memory, the year that things went horribly wrong, but to be honest, this issue has aged pretty well.  It is overly-wordy, even by my comic-reading standards, but those words are used in an attempt to give us a story full of meaning, literary metaphor and tragedy, with about a 75% success rate.  Much of what we know of modern X-Men is actually borne of this era of the X-books, and the small cast of characters from across the various mutant teams actually works well for me.  I’ve never been a fan of Wolverine’s bone-claw days, but this issue’s shocking moment is one that, frankly, makes sense, and gives us some real consequences for a hero who was just on the verge of becoming invincible, leaving X-Men #25 with a better-than-average 3 out of 5 stars overall.  The Bob Harras-era of X-Men comics were very much gimmick and crossover driven, but this particular crossover was handled with economy and some restraint, making this issue a key part of one of the more successful crossover madness books of the day…

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Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture! And a nice red uniform.

5 Comments

  1. Quicksilver is like Namor, they never quite knew what to do with him so they went for dozen costume changes, each worse than the previous one. Well, actually last time I saw Namor, costume was decent.

  2. Wow, I remember this even though I haven’t read it in years. The nostalgia is so strong I can almost smell the house we lived in back then (it smelled like a health food store because mom burned incense all the time and it lingered even days later). My best friend and I completely flipped out over Magneto pulling the adamantium out of Wolverine and were more than surprised that it didn’t go back to normal right away (we gave it six months tops, but honestly expected it to be less than two).

  3. Of course, one has to wonder why Wolverine made the short list for a direct confrontation against Magneto at all.

    And what possessed Charles to become so military-minded, secretive and bloodthirsty when it went against everything he believed in. Nietzsche had something to say about what his odd stance by this point.

    And the retcon about Jean suddenly “always loving” Wolverine was ugly, ugly, ugly.

    And the sheer overdose of cheap shock in a single story…

    1990s. Never let them alone with your favorite comics. Odds are they will never recover from the experience.

    • 3 out of 4 pretty much explained by one word: Wolverine. Then the same guys proceeded to make a whole company out of bad Wolverine copies, its called Image.

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