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1987 And All That: The X-Men vs. the Avengers #1-4

A column in which Matt Derman (Comics Matter) reads & reviews comics from 1987, because that’s the year he was born.

XvA1The X-Men vs. the Avengers #1-4 (Marvel) by Roger Stern (#1-3), Tom DeFalco (#4), Marc Silvestri (#1-3), Keith Pollard (#4), Josef Rubinstein, Christie “Max” Scheele, and Joe Rosen

25 years before the Avengers tried to take custody of Hope in order to prevent her from mishandling/abusing the power of a threat falling from space, they tried to take custody of Magneto in order to prevent him from mishandling/abusing the power of a threat that had recently fallen from space.

Other than that nutshell plot synopsis, 1987’s The X-Men vs. the Avengers has very little in common with 2012’s Avengers vs. X-Men, mostly due to the dramatic difference in scope between the two series. XvA (if you’ll allow me the shorthand) is a self-contained mini-series that, while it doesn’t ignore the continuity of its time, doesn’t really affect the greater Marvel Universe’s status quo, either. AvX, on the other hand, was a sprawling crossover event meant to dramatically shake up the Marvel U, which mostly just amounted to a bunch of new titles and a few new teams, but that’s a discussion for another time and place. There is one other commonality between these books, though, something which makes them each a less enjoyable reading experience than they could and maybe should have been: distracting changes in style due to sudden shifts in creative team. Now, with AvX, this was the plan all along, to produce a series written and drawn by many different contributors, I guess because Marvel thought it was the comicbook equivalent of a supergroup? Whatever the reasoning behind it, that event ended up feeling incredibly disjointed and unfocused from start to finish, which is obnoxious to be sure, but at least it was consistently inconsistent. With XvA, the shift in creators doesn’t come until the fourth and final chapter, and the effect is even more jarring and upsetting, since up to that point there’d been a reliable authorial voice and aesthetic driving everything, and a real sense of purpose and progress to the narrative. Much of that is undone in the last issue, and while the story’s ending is actually one I find rather interesting, it comes across as wedged in and a little confusing on a first read, since it arrives so suddenly and has such a different tone than everything which preceded it.

The X-Men vs. the Avengers #1-3 were all written by Roger Stern and penciled by Marc Silvestri, a solid pair of collaborators, at least as far as this title is concerned. The story they tell is a pretty simple one, which leaves them with enough room to do some nice characterization with the lineups of both titular teams, as well as the Soviet Super-Soldiers, a group of Russian superheroes who also play a major role in this comic but understandably don’t get equal billing. It all begins with chunks of Asteroid M falling to Earth, and the whole world freaking out over the idea that Magneto might use these pieces of his former base to do something malevolent. At the time, Magneto claimed to be one of the good guys, fighting alongside the X-Men rather than against them, but not everyone trusted or believed in his change of heart, so when a reminder of his past atrocities came crashing down from the sky, many felt it was cause for worry. Not only that, it was seen by some as an opportunity to bring Magneto in and try him for his many crimes, including but not limited to causing a volcano to burst out of the middle of a major Russian city. So when Magneto predictably heads to the crash site in an effort to recover technology and who knows what else from his former stronghold, the rest of the heroes in this series converge on him immediately, hoping to arrest, kill, or protect him, depending on which team they’re with. The Avengers want to bring Magneto into the World Court so he can be fairly tried, the Soviet Super-Soldiers want to see him pay immediately for the heinous things he’s done to their country in the past, and the X-Men want to handle him themselves because mutants like to keep it in the family. So the three teams exchange heated words and eventually come to blows, while Magneto, true to form, tries to evade everybody in pursuit of his own goals.

What Stern does best in this narrative is balancing the action with the conversation, so that every member of every team involved has chances to shine in combat and out. There is some intelligent debate among the heroes, both within each team internally and during arguments between them, about what the best way to handle someone like Magneto really is, and whether or not any of them even have a right to claim custody over him. It’s an interesting examination/exploration of superhero jurisdictional issues, with each side providing equally valid reasons as to why they should be responsible for Magneto, and nobody willing to budge. As with most superhero problems, the solution everyone tries over and over is to violence their opponents into submission, but the other thing Stern does quite nicely is to make sure that violence has consequences. Friends fight friends reluctantly, innocent lives are put at risk, Magneto runs away during the chaos of battle, and so on so that every fight has a cost and every time one or more of the superheroes are too stubborn and/or impulsive for their own good, they pay for it.

XvA2 1Silvestri admittedly does slightly better with the action scenes than the talky ones, but the most impressive aspect of his contributions is how effortlessly he seems to handle the immense number of characters. There are some heavily populated scenes along the way, especially when all three teams get together in the same place, but nobody gets the short end of the stick and none of the panels feel crowded. There’s no lack of detail on any page, and every character, even the ones in giant suits of robot armor, is expressive in a distinct way that matches their personality. Silvestri’s layouts are fairly standard, and he was a new enough talent at the time that his style was fairly reserved and traditional-looking, a standard piece of 80’s superhero graphic fiction. But the narrative relies on having the reader care about and connect with all three sides of this conflict, and it is Silvestri’s work with the cast that makes that not just possible but unavoidable. They’re all given equal attention, depth, and humanity, so that no one ever feels like a less serious or important character than anyone else.

Throughout those first three chapters, then, what goes down is essentially a long-running, globe-spanning hunt for Magneto, with his allies in the X-Men struggling to keep him free while the Avengers and Soviet Super-Soldiers try hard and often to catch him. For his part, what Magneto’s after is as simple as it is scary: he wants to use old tech from Asteroid M to telepathically remove by force humanity’s prejudice against mutant kind. Apparently this is something he can do, though the details of how it works are never discussed. It doesn’t really matter how or even if he might accomplish this, what’s great about it is that it’s such a perfectly Magneto thing to do, and that he’s arrogant and self-important enough to believe it would be a good, righteous act if he pulled it off. With that motive, Magneto becomes the villain of this story, a role that suits him far better than the uneasy hero he’s pretending to be, and though he never fully breaks from the X-Men over it, the reader gets to see that, despite his best efforts, he’s not as good as he (or anyone else) thinks. As covered by the good sir Brian Cronin in an old Comic Book Legends Revealed, had Stern gotten to wrap up this series his way, Magneto would have exposed his true colors in full and been an official baddie again by the end. I imagine him unifying the various hero teams against him as he tried to brainwash the entire world into loving mutants, but that’s pure speculation on my part, and we’ll never know precisely how Stern would’ve concluded things, because it was Tom DeFalco who actually got to write the closing issue.

DeFalco came in to replace Stern after disagreements between Stern and editorial over the ending of the story. So I don’t know how much of what happens in The Avengers vs. the X-Men #4 is actually DeFalco’s creation and how much was mandated from above, but he’s the writer listed, so he gets all the credit and blame.

It’s not a bad ending, conceptually speaking, but it feels unearned. First, Magneto suddenly realizes how misguided his eliminate-all-mutant-prejudice goal was, just because when he tries it on Captain America it doesn’t stop Cap from wanting to arrest him. That, to me, feels like a misunderstanding of why Magneto wanted to do it in the first place, but staying true to character is set aside so that he can turn himself in and allow himself to be tried in the World Court. This, too, is a tad annoying, because it essentially means that the Avengers win, since a trial is all they wanted from the start. Why hand them such an easy victory and for such a lame reason, especially when the far more exciting option of having Magneto do a full-on heel turn was sitting right there? The trial, then, is remarkably dry, and mostly involves the reiteration of facts that have already been covered in previous issues of this comic, all of which were events from previous issues of other comics, anyway. Then, convinced he’s going to be found guilty because the judges of his case hate mutants, Magneto secretly uses his mind-control technology to erase the mutant prejudice from one of the judge’s minds, hoping this will lead to an acquittal. Which it does, but in a frustrating way, because the judge who dismisses the charges does so based on an argument he shot down several pages earlier when Magneto’s defense attorney tried to make it. So there’s a touch of self-contradiction there, though by that point in the issue, expecting anyone to act consistently has pretty much been thrown out the window. Finally, Magneto exits the court, once again free to try and fool himself and the world into thinking he’s a good guy now, but what he finds outside is a world even angrier and more anti-mutant than ever. People assume (correctly) the trial was rigged, that there was nothing fair about the verdict, and that Magneto still totally deserves to pay for his crimes. And because he’s with the X-Men now, they see him as the face of all mutants, no matter how good they claim to be. There is an angry mob awaiting Magneto when he exits the court, and that is where the series ends, with Magneto having the awful realization that after all of this effort, all he managed to pull off was the exact opposite of his goal.

XvA3Like I said, it’s not a bad idea for an ending, it’s just that it doesn’t really mesh with the story leading there. I like the notion that, in the end, Magneto would defeat himself, but there was no momentum in that direction until DeFalco took the wheel and turned the narrative sharply. Up until the final chapter, this was a story about Magneto rediscovering his villainous side, literally in the form of the hunk of Asteroid M he finds, and figuratively in that his endgame was far from noble or just. Then in issue #4, he suddenly becomes a sincere hero again, willing to face the court and take responsibility, only to flip-flop a second time when he brainwashes the judge. I’m not really sure where he ends up on the moral spectrum ultimately, because I’m not convinced the Magneto of the last issue is the same as that of the rest of the series. The Avengers vs. the X-Men #4 feels more like its own Magneto short story than the conclusion of the mini, except of course that the events of that issue tie directly to those of the first three.

Keith Pollard also replaces Silvestri in the final issue, though I’d guess that had more to do with Silvestri becoming the head artist on Uncanny X-Men than any dissatisfaction with his work on the rest of the book. Luckily, the rest of the art team stays the same, so between Josef Rubinstein’s finishes and Max Scheele’s colors, the visuals don’t shift too dramatically. There is a definite noticeable difference, but the gap isn’t nearly as wide as that between Stern’s writing and DeFalco’s.

The biggest bummer about The X-Men vs. the Avengers is that whatever valuable content it provides throughout is tainted by the ill-fitting finale. You might like issues #1-3, and/or you might like issue #4, but they don’t really line up with one another, and that’s hard to reconcile since they’re meant to be a single story. Too bad, then, that two-and-a-half decades later, Marvel couldn’t learn the lesson of this series when it came time to pit these two teams against one another again. That lesson being, of course, that it’s always better to have a singular creative vision than to try and hodgepodge it with editorial guidance and hope it still makes sense in the end.

31 Comments

I remember reading this and finding it strange that another writer (not Claremont) was doing it. Don’t get me wrong, I loved Roger Stern too, but I don’t know…

When it comes to the X-Men, I have an impression that Marvel, until well into the 1980s, was caught by surprise at how big a hit they were. And some of the guys at Marvel, that worked on other comics, were less than fully committed to see the X-Men steal the show in the Marvel Universe.

Maybe they even resented it that the X-Men were stealing it from more traditional heroes like the Avengers and the FF? I got that impression with SECRET WARS, where the X-Men acted immature and split off from the other heroes, and were clobbered by Spider-Man and later the Wasp (!!!)… And I read somewhere that Roger Stern was hailed as a hero at the Marvel offices for refusing to let Claremont use Nightmare (Dr. Strange’s enemy) in the X-Men as Nightcrawler’s father. Maybe there were a lot of guys jealous of how successful Claremont’s X-Men were?

In any case, I did find it strange that they would have an “outside” writer come in and deal with Magneto in such a conclusive way as Roger Stern meant to do, and all of it to prove that the X-Men were “wrong” to trust in Magneto (though Claremont would do that himself later).

Stephen Conway

June 4, 2014 at 8:35 am

Well, Stern was the Avengers writer at the time so his involvement does make some sense.

I do agree that it seemed like a lot of other writers and editors disliked the status of the X Men, and they got short shrift outside the Claremont realm.

I always felt that the X-Men were Marvel’s unwanted step-child through the ’80’s too. It was as though Marvel really wanted the Avengers to be their premier team, but the X-Men kept being better.

I disliked this series for a different reason. I never understood how/why Eric was being put on trial again after the trial in UXM #200. I felt that was unjust.

I remember the Fantastic Four vs. The X-Men from the same year being written by Chris Claremont and it seemed more legitimate to me (as a 13 year old) than the Avengers vs. The X-Men. I thought the ending of this series was kind of flying in the face of what was happening with Magneto in the actual X-Men book.

@ Stephen –

But my point was, why should the AVENGERS writer have final say on Magneto’s status?

And I’m glad to know that I was not the only one getting mixed signals from Marvel at the time regarding the X-Men.

Maybe part of it was politics. I always felt that some of Marvel’s big-wigs in the 1980s were a little right-wing, particularly Jim Shooter. And then they had this huge hit on their hands that was about a bunch of persecuted outsiders, and it was sort of a feminist comic to boot. Maybe the AVENGERS felt more establishment.

John Byrne, himself a Conservative/Libertarian, has shed more light into this issue when he said he wanted Magneto be a unambiguous villain and bashed other comic book writers as “naive liberals” for believing that anybody could be rehabilitated. And Stern was Byrne’s best pal in the comic book world.

I don’t know about the politics part. I saw it more as a character who was a long standing villain trying to reform (a common theme with Marvel characters) and not being accepted by the general public and most of the other heroes for various reasons.

It’s sort of X-Men’s tragedy as a franchise.

When the Avengers are popular everyone at Marvel is happy, but when the X-Men used to be popular, everyone were complaining / criticizing them for it (I could point some fingers, but some of the folks are still working
for Marvel).

Sure, there were too many x-books (and still are), but YES, now when Stephen said it, it does
feel like X-Men are the bastard child that no one in the industry wants, but is kept, because money.
It also feels hypocritical, because when the bubble burst, and Marvel went bankrupt, it was the
X-Men movie (along with Spider-Man) that saved them from the abyss.

The entire mini-series premise should never have been green lit in the first place. It ran counter to everything that was taking place in Uncanny X-Men for the better part of the entire 1980s—-the creation of a more nuanced, interesting character named Magneto. Magneto was no longer the raving lunatic of the 1960s—he was a multi-dimensional character who had grown and developed. At the time of the story, he was the Headmaster of the school, and teacher to the New Mutants. The mini-series made absolutely no sense. Late in the process, someone (DeFalco?) realized it was a mistake and changed the ending. Stern was a very good writer, but he had no business being allowed to essentially destroy 10 years worth of story line in Uncanny X-Men and character development of Magneto. So, it was stopped. Comics was a different thing medium then. At the time, Claremont should have been heavily involved in the process, and he should have had a say in the direction of the character. I’m glad they stopped it.

Also, at the time, there weren’t too many X-books—there were 3: Uncanny X-Men, New Mutants, and X-Factor. T

But my point was, why should the AVENGERS writer have final say on Magneto’s status?

Rene has a point with that. As much as I sympathize with Roger Stern having his previously approved plot getting nixed at the eleventh hour, I can certainly understand that Chris Claremont, who was very protective of his characters (perhaps overly), stepping forward and saying “Um, excuse me, but which one of us has been writing Magneto regularly for the past decade?”

It really sounds like X-Men Vs. Avengers was initially devised with a lack of editorial and creative coordination, and then at the last minute editorial back-peddled, Stern left, and DeFalco took over.

Too be honest, I have always liked how DeFalco ended the story, though. Magneto wins, only to realize that his personal “victory” had made things much, much worse for mutant-kind as a whole. It fits perfectly with Magneto’s entire personality. As Matt wrote in his analysis, Magneto is “arrogant and self-important enough to believe it would be a good, righteous act if he pulled it off.” Magneto has almost always been convinced that he has this quasi-messianic role to play among mutants, and that inevitably blinds him to the negative side effects, the seemingly inevitable backlash, to his actions that someone with a more objective point of view could see coming.

I guess the main problem with this miniseries, though, is that, as Matt said, that final issue is a jarring shift from the first three. If the entire miniseries had naturally built up to that ending then it would have been much more powerful and effective.

19 years before this, actually, issue #53 of The Avengers was in fact ‘The Avengers vs the X-Men! (‘Nuff Said)’

I’ve always throught that this series sits better BEFORE FF vs X-Men – the damage to the blackbird being repaired in FF vs X 1, She Hulk restaging the Magneto trial, rather than the after that’s generalloy portrayed in contuinuity guides and trades…..

… But there’s also an element of the original ending of the series being reflected in the X-Men issues around this time: Magneto doesn’t appear again in the main X title for a good long while – these issues occur between 219 & 220

In fact the main title that would be affected by taking Magneto off the board here is New Mutants

I’m not sure I’d have liked Magneto being made a villain again so soon. In fact Magneto becoming a villain again still sits badly with me full stop.

Rene’s comments are pretty accurate. As late as 1983 the X-men (according to Overstreet) was not even in Marvel’s Top 10 in units sold. What really boosted X-Men- aside from the Wolverine limited series where Claremont did a standout job of turning Wolverine into the quintessential 80’s anti-hero- was Secret Wars.

With Secret Wars moving Golden Age levels of units the X-men- really a cult favorite at the time- was exposed to a wider audience and its underlying themes caught on. By 1985 the X-men were in the same category as Amazing Spider-Man and Avengers in terms of selling 400-500 thousand copies a month.

So the X-men’s success in terms of marketability caught Marvel by surprise and they tried to take advantage as evidenced by the X-men suddenly showing up in Asgard or this limited series or the FF vs. X-men series. What’s really ironic is the Roger Stern- whose outstanding run on Avengers had them solidly entrenched in Marvel’s Top 3- got the boot off this limited series and his title due to editorial disagreements with Mark Gruenwald. The Avengers began a free-fall with his departure and were supplanted by the X-men as Marvel’s flagship team.

Travis Stephens

June 5, 2014 at 7:32 am

X-men vs FF

19 years before this, actually, issue #53 of The Avengers was in fact ‘The Avengers vs the X-Men! (‘Nuff Said)’

Odd coincidence time… I’m currently re-reading Essential Avengers Vol 3, and I just read that issue on the train to work this morning. Beautiful artwork by John Buscema & George Tuska.

And looking at that story, you really do see just how much Claremont developed Magneto, moving him away from the ranting lunatic megalomaniac of the Silver Age who got his jollies from kicking the Toad around. It’s no wonder that Claremont eventually decided to reveal that a side effect of Magneto’s powers resulted in him experiencing drastic emotional instability and bouts of insanity. That’s really the only way of explaining why Magneto was such an nutjob not just in the old stories but also the first couple of times Claremont himself wrote the character.

I note this is another of those cases where Claremont wrote a ‘reply’ to it later, there’s an issue of New Mutants, I forget the number immediately after Secret Wars Two where the Avengers hunt down Magneto (again!) and Claremond has Magneto respond while nothing of this mini series is mentioned at all, he seemed to do these weird ‘I’ll write my own better version’ quite a lot.

The moral of the story is….don’t go changing Roger Stern’s stories. If we haven’t learned that time and time again….

This and X-Men vs. FF were two good stories that were killed by cop out endings. (In X/FF’s case, it was the “oh, it was really a plot by Doom and not anything Reed would do…” part). It was ridiculous that Magneto was headmaster at the school. A nuanced, maybe even righteous villain? Sure. But this is a guy who did blow up volcanos and submarines and try and kill the X-Men time and time again (under Claremont’s writing often too). It’s not Hawkeye helping steal some stuff and getting in fights with Iron Man. This is a mass murdered. That the X-Men keep taking them in, and making them run the school?!?! makes them look bad. It’s far more akin to Sabertooth joining the team then other less murderous bad guys.

Rogue is about the edge of reformable….she’s did something pretty horrible, but has been trying to make atones for that pretty much ever since. (That and turning her from ugly to hot appeases people). There’s an arc there. Henry Pym hits a woman once, and he can’t live it down; Rogue rapes someone’s mind and body and it’s “eh, her accent is cute, ain’t it?”

It’s funny so many people buy into Magneto’s reform when his own daughter is still so unaccepted for all the bad she’s done…and what she did was under some really bad writing, while what Magneto did was good writing with him fulfilling his role.

If Rene were a superhero, her code name would be The Projector, for obvious reasons.

Rene’s comments are pretty accurate. As late as 1983 the X-men (according to Overstreet) was not even in Marvel’s Top 10 in units sold. What really boosted X-Men- aside from the Wolverine limited series where Claremont did a standout job of turning Wolverine into the quintessential 80?s anti-hero- was Secret Wars.

That is inaccurate. By the end of Claremont and Byrne’s run, the book was a solid #2-3 and it only got higher during Paul Smith’s run. By the time Secret Wars came out, it was a solid #1. There’s a reason Wolverine got two mini-series and New Mutants came out. X-Men was their biggest hit from roughly 1981 throughout the rest of the decade (only being eclipsed for a time by G.I. Joe).

There was a Magneto vs. Avengers later in the New Mutants. I thought that issue was handled extremely well.

@Fluffy- actually, the New Mutants story was written before this.
@M-Wolverine- The FF Vs. X-Men ending was forshadowed from the first issue.
And yes, it is ridiculous that Pym can’t live down hitting Jan once, but Emma gets away with child abuse, Tony gets away with causing a prison break, Carol gets away with almost killing a plane while Superheroing While Drunk, Strange gets away with killing an African child, etc.

Jason –

HIS codename, please. I am a guy.

M-Wolverine –

I think Magneto would say that he is a mass murderer the same way President Harry Truman was, that he was acting like a head of state trying to protect mutantkind when he downed that sub and volcanoed that city, and those were acts of war, and if I remember right, he was trying to force everybody to get rid of nuclear weapons when he did that? I don’t know if I buy that myself, it was the line they used in his trial in UXM #200. But in any case, he is a different guy from Sabretooth, who is just a psychopath that gets his kicks from killing people.

But yeah, it seems that every villain the X-Men ever fight that becomes popular enough has to end in the mansion. It’s kind of a rule, or something.

I’m not onboard with Hank Pym bashing myself. Though people often forget, with THE SLAP and everything, that he actually also got some robot to attack the Avengers as a plan to make himself look good. But the guy obviously had so many mental breakdowns that he seems more deserving of sympathy than anything else.

@Rene- but that wasn’t the worst of Magneto’s crimes. He tried to kill most of humanity in Amazing Adventures, and tried to nuke an innocent country in the early issues of X-Men.

Yes. Magneto in the Silver Age was a card-carrying, supervillain. But he was also a typical Silver Age villain in that his plans never actually worked and probably no one ever died in one of his capers. It’s hard to even try to apply real world comparitions when we’re discussing those. That Magneto is impossible to reconcile with the world of greater moral nuance that Claremont introduced.

The irony of it is that Magneto only started to rack up a real body count in the story that was the beginning of his “redemption”.

This and X-Men vs. FF were two good stories that were killed by cop out endings. (In X/FF’s case, it was the “oh, it was really a plot by Doom and not anything Reed would do…” part).

Except that it would be a major retcon to have Reed deliberately mutated himself and his friends, and one that the FF book couldn’t work with very effectively unless its writer was on board. It certainly doesn’t fit with the decades of Reed trying to cure the Thing, either. So no, despite the current “Reed is an aloof monster” consensus among fans and writers alike, in 1987 that really *wasn’t* something Reed would’ve done. If people get upset that Roger Stern was undoing Claremont’s plans for Magneto, then they should be equally upset about Claremont potentially screwing over the writer of the FF book.

I think at least some of the resistance to what Claremont was doing in X-Men was because it didn’t play well with the rest of the MU. If there’s an active genocide against mutants going on, or all the big geopolitical stuff is about Magneto, then the Avengers either have to look like racist assholes — which doesn’t work in the monthly Avengers book for all sorts of reasons — or the Avengers have to suddenly devote a lot of time and space to fighting anti-mutant forces — in which case there’s not much point having a non-X team book. And then there’s the often-voiced point that it’s not as if the general public would know which supers were mutants and which weren’t, or how the Scarlet Witch in the Avengers and the Beast, Angel, and Iceman in the Defenders aren’t constantly stalked by Sentinels.

The solution ended up being the effective segregation of the Marvel Universe, because not every writer wanted to tell allegories for racism and civil rights, and not every reader wanted to read an X-book. These miniseries are almost more like crossovers between universes that crossovers within a shared universe.

While there are certainly examples of Magneto’s actions being retaliations to an attack upon himself or mutants, he far too often goes out to kill those who haven’t even bothered him (The X-Men first and foremost) to say he’s only taking lives in an ongoing war. People just excuse his “super-villain-ness” because they sympathize with his background, without understanding as a reformed not really bad guy he’s not that interesting, but as a bad guy with nuance, it makes him all the better character.

And I think they way it was written was very much something Reed Richards would have done. He wasn’t supposed to be “oh, I’m going to turn my friend into a monster,” but someone who pragmatically could see the future need for “super heroes” or men and women of ability just as he saw the need for the space flight taking place immediately. I mean, this is a guy who’s first act as a hero is to steal a rocket from the government. In the series the characters around him even see how he could think that way. And it still totally jibes with him trying to cure Grimm after the fact….he thought they should get powers, but he didn’t intend for any of them to get the “not cool” powers. And it helps with at least one of the two problems the FF has where the smartest man in the world not only can’t cure his best friend (yeah, yeah, mental and emotional block…whatever), and decided to take a flight but forgot those dang pesky cosmic rays. Reed and Doom work best if they’re two sides of the same coin. Doom can be honorable and do the right thing if it benefits him, but what keeps Reed from being Doom is the trust he has for and the love he gets from his family.

But Claremont’s different direction on the X-Men did skew the universe quite a bit. The X-Men were really out to stop the bad mutants to make the good mutants look good, and when it changes it doesn’t make a lot of sense that Cap isn’t giving speeches about mutant rights every month. But then Claremont and others after them have done a really good job of making the X-Men look like wannabe martyrs who come across as assholes who shouldn’t be trusted. I mean, they take in Magneto, Rogue who brainwashed an Avenger, Wolverine on the team when killing guys meant something, Sabertooth, Mystique….and then have guys like Cyclops, X-Man #1, go off the deep end and still have a large percentage of the team backing him. This isn’t Iron Man vs. Cap…this is “hey, half of us are going to be on Scarlet Witch’s side after she goes bonkers!”

@M-Wolverine- But subjecting Ben, Reed and Sue to a procedure with unknown side effects without their consent would make Reed, in Franklin’s words, “a bad man- as bad as Dr. Doom.” There’s no way Sue could stay married to Reed after that without looking like a doormat.
Remender had Rogue wonder why Wanda never joined the X-Men- I half expected Wanda to reply that they took you in five minutes after you nearly killed Carol and took my dad in as well.
But yes, the X-Men’s martyr routine can get tiresome. The most ridiculous example has to be the issue where Rogue and Rachel let Juggernaut go because he didn’t start the fight this time (never mind that he recently put an elderly woman in the hospital) and act shocked that the people nearby hate them.

Travis Stephens

June 6, 2014 at 6:49 pm

It’s somewhat odd that the characterization in X-Men vs Avengers (and X-Men vs FF) resembled the Secret Wars characterizations where the X-men were just a step away from being in Magneto’s league. I always found this jarring as various members of the Avengers (Iron Man, Thor, et.al) had battled alongside the X-men. And Beast really served as a liaison between the two teams. Yet the Avengers were suspicious of the X-men when they had done many of the same things they had done. What’s the difference between breaking into NORAD and the Vault anyway?

Was there something I missed or was this just Shooter’s policy? It seems like there was a mandate that the X-Men and all mutants must be treated with distrust on sight.

@Travis- the Avengers broke out of the Vault after the government refused to accord them due process. The X-Men broke into the Pentagon to destroy information that they had voluntarily shared with the FBI. There’s arguably a big difference. ( When Tony broke into the Vault to destroy technology that the government had obtained legally, the other Avengers were furious.)
The idea was the Avengers and the FF didn’t trust the X-Men because they were working with Magneto and Xavier had mysteriously disappeared- for all they knew the X-Men had helped Magneto kill Xavier. Why Beast didn’t just tell the Avengers and the FF what happened is another question but as several people have pointed out, in early X-Factor, Hank seemed to always make the least logical decision possible.

Travis Stephens

June 8, 2014 at 10:46 pm

Michael you make salient counterpoints to my arguments. My point was that the Avengers hardly had room to be suspicious of the X-Men given the events going on in their comics starting with the Vision trying to take over the world. The Avengers could try and claim the moral high ground in XM vs A (going from memory) but even Joe Comicbookguy would find their actions dubious.

And yes Beast should have called both mansions and explained what was hell was going on, but what are comics without miscommunications.

@Michael- I think you are, at base, right. For protection of the characters, it probably couldn’t go any other way. But I just don’t see that as that big a stretch for Reed, who seems to semi-regularly do things THEN inform the team why he was doing it, because he knew it was right and they’d see that it was and he didn’t have time to explain. And frankly, post- reconning, anyone who is in the Illuminati kinda does seems to be someone who would do something behind others backs if they felt it was the right thing. Franklin’s a child, so while it might not make it right, there is a difference between why Reed would do it and why Victor would. I guess you could say that it would make Reed more like Magneto….

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