Sunday, August 14, 2016

X-MEN: FATAL ATTRACTIONS

Hardcover, 2012. Collects 1993-94's UNCANNY X-MEN #298 - 305 & 315, UNCANNY X-MEN ANNUAL #17, X-FACTOR #87 - 92, X-MEN UNLIMITED #1 & 2, X-FORCE #25, X-MEN #25, WOLVERINE #75, and EXCALIBUR #71.

This book is probably my favorite of all the X-MEN hardcovers I own, in terms of volume of contents. The two X-MEN BY CLAREMONT & LEE books came out a bit earlier than FATAL ATTRACTIONS, and they certainly covered a wide swath of X-continuity, between UNCANNY issues, X-FACTOR issues, annuals, and the like. And of course there were prior collections of the various X-events which preceded "Fatal Attractions", but those generally only collected the pertinent crossover issues (with the exceptions of FALL OF THE MUTANTS, which contained a great deal of lead-in material and X-TINCTION AGENDA, which included the original Genosha arc to lead the book off).

But FATAL ATTRACTIONS gives us our first real glimpse of the Marvel collected editions department's diabolical plan to eventually get every issue of X-MEN and UNCANNY X-MEN, as well as ancillary X-material such as annuals and X-MEN UNLIMITED issues, out there in some way or another -- not to mention squeezing in installments of other spin-off series where pertinent.

FATAL ATTRACTIONS begins with UNCANNY #298 and 299, written by Scott Lobdell and featuring the return of Magneto's Acolytes and the machinations of the Gamesmaster and the Upstarts. We then move into a solid run of X-FACTOR #87 (the famous "team psychotherapy" issue) through 91, written by the outgoing Peter David and fill-in scripter Lobdell, which provide some tangential groundwork for the upcoming "Fatal Attractions" crossover.


Then it's back to UNCANNY for the milestone issue 300 and another showdown with the Acolytes, after which we get UNCANNY ANNUAL 17 and the debut of the X-Cutioner (no relation to the title of the previous year's crossover event). The Lobdell-written X-MEN UNLIMITED #1 follows, showcasing some early X-artwork from Chris Bachalo (which I must admit I generally find more appealing than any of his later styles) and introducing readers to future superstar villainess Siena Blaze. (Eh? She didn't...? She's not? Huh.) UNCANNY 301 - 303 follow, a tale featuring Forge, Fitzroy, and the death of Illyana Rasputin.


Then, on page 412 of the book, "Fatal Attractions" proper begins in the pages of X-FACTOR 92 as the Acolytes return once again. The crossover continues into X-FORCE 25 by Fabian Nicieza and Greg Capullo, where Magneto's herald, Exodus, makes his full debut following a cameo in the previous chapter, and Magneto dramatically makes his return in an underwhelming third-of-a-page panel near the issue's conclusion. (I've never quite understood how this dramatic reveal receives such little fanfare in this issue.) Magneto then crashes Illyana's funeral in UNCANNY #304, a huge chapter in a massive event crossover which is also inexplicably a "jam" issue drawn by five different (highly incompatible) pencilers.


X-MEN UNLIMITED #2, a tale of Magneto tangentially related to "Fatal Attractions" by Fabian Nicieza and Jan Duursema, follows, and then it's on to UNCANNY X-MEN 305, written by Lobdell and also drawn by Duursema. We return to the proper crossover with X-MEN #25 from Nicieza and Andy Kubert, the tale in which Professor X mindwipes Magneto (inadvertently sowing the seeds for "Onslaught") after the Master of Magnetism yanks the adamantium out of Wolverine's body. The story continues directly into WOLVERINE #75 by Larry Hama and Adam Kubert, my personal favorite chapter of "Fatal Attractions".

The event concludes in EXCALIBUR #71, an afterthought of a story which is almost entirely unnecessary to the proceedings. But the hardcover isn't done there -- we have one issue left, UNCANNY X-MEN 315 from nearly a year later, which serves as something of a belated epilogue to "Fatal Attractions", spotlighting Magneto, Colossus, and the Acolytes aboard Magneto's space station, Avalon.


And of course there's bonus material! In addition to preliminary and hologram-free art for the various crossover chapters strewn throughout the book, we have twenty-eight pages of extras to round things out: A lengthy MARVEL AGE article on the creation of the holograms which adorned each installment's cover, a Magneto pinup gallery from MAGNETO #0, some posters, trade paperback covers, and design sketches, a few pages of trading cards (fronts only) from various sets released around this time, and Scott Lobdell's introduction to the 1993 FATAL ATTRACTIONS trade paperback -- though why they don't just put these old intros at the beginnings of these reprint volumes, I will never understand. Last up are variant covers and recolored cover art created for this edition.


Like I said: breadth. This book is cram-packed with X-material, no matter how tangentially related to "Fatal Attractions", providing a much more comprehensive reading experience than if someone were to read simply the six crossover chapters alone. If I had to pick a nit, I might complain that X-MEN 24 isn't here (it's explicitly billed on its first page as "A prelude to UNCANNY X-MEN #304"), but that's really not a big deal since it did eventually see print in the A SKINNING OF SOULS collection.

Extras are comprehensive and reproduction is great as well. This is a big, thick book which looks really nice on the shelf, and I particularly love the choice of the UNCANNY X-MEN 300 cover for the front of the dustjacket, even if that issue wasn't actually a part of "Fatal Attractions" proper.


A lot of fans dislike "Fatal Attractions" for undoing Chris Claremont's years-long development of Magneto. I get that. People really like what he did with the character. I like some of it myself. I appreciate the deepening of his personality and motivations and the addition of a backstory to what had been a blank slate when Claremont took control of the Master of Magnetism. But these issues were my first time reading Magneto in current continuity. I had not yet read the entirety of the Claremont run when "Fatal Attractions" was released -- in fact the only Magneto story I'd ever seen by Claremont to this point was UNCANNY X-MEN 150's reprint in CLASSIC X-MEN. Beyond that, the only Magneto I'd ever read, period, was in SECRET WARS by Jim Shooter. Both those versions were somewhat noble villains.

This Magneto is a villain, but there's nothing noble about him. I dislike his handling in Scott Lobdell's UNCANNY chapter, as he raves like a lunatic to the assembled X-teams and brutally murders one of his own followers. But Nicieza quickly redeems him in X-MEN 25, giving me the version of the character I consider "my" Magneto -- a mutant terrorist who does what he does for the good of his people. He will cause mass disasters and deaths on Earth to make his point and, while he's not quite noble, he perhaps harbors some regret over what he is forced to do in the name of his war. This is Magneto to me. Neither evil nor good, he fights for a cause but he's gone too far down his path to be anything other than a supervillain.

But in general, I find that I'm in the minority here. There are issues I have with Claremont where I know some fans agree, but this isn't one of them. Nearly everyone seems to unanimously love Chris Claremont's Magneto and I say, "More power to 'em." He exists in several hardcovers and trade paperbacks; I have most all of them on my bookcase. But my Magneto exists too, right here in 2012's FATAL ATTRACTIONS hardcover.

Available on Amazon: Hardcover | Paperback

6 comments:

  1. Magneto dramatically makes his return in an underwhelming third-of-a-page panel near the issue's conclusion. (I've never quite understood how this dramatic reveal receives such little fanfare in this issue.)

    Tilt your head like it's the 90's again: Cable is making a triumphatic return to the pages of the X-FORCE as seen on the cover and specifically noted inside the issue! Plus I think they had gotten enough mileage from teasing Mag's return already, and I think it's good choice they left the eventuousness for his appearance at Illyana's funeral. As much as that was a dick move by him in hindsight.

    As for the teases, Hama did it best with the not-full helmet rim print left on the dust on table in that one WOLVERINE issue. Great harking back to the Old X-Men Savage Land story where "clothes make a man".

    Crazy era. They got the yearly X-overs every year now, and there isn't too much room for issues in between. What we really don't get are actual singular milestone issues the memory of which will punch you into the gut still years later. UXM #300 certainly wasn't one as the events within go.

    It's a different Magneto than the one who chastises Kitty from hogging the cola from the school fridge alright.

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    1. True, Cable's return is a really big deal here, with the two-page spread that goes to Magneto in UNCANNY 305. But the difference to me is that readers have known Cable was still alive for some time thanks to his solo series, while Magneto's return (though heavily marketed) was still a technically a secret. (Meaning if you read all these comics with no ads or advance solicits to fill you in on what was upcoming, you wouldn't have been surprised to see Cable return, but you might have been by Magneto.)

      Anyway, it's no big deal, really.

      I'm glad you mentioned that WOLVERINE Savage Land arc! I didin't read WOLVERINE at this time, but a friend of mine had the issues and I really liked them. Wolverine, Rogue, and Jubilee in the Savage Land, drawn by Dwayne Turner -- great stuff. As I think about it, I wish that arc had been squeezed into this collection too. It does loosely tie in with "Fatal Attractions", after all.

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    2. That WOLVERINE arc definitely should have been in this volume. It's a clear "tease the return of Magneto" story.

      It's also when I first started buying that series, mainly because it was teasing the return of Magneto and thus, tied more tightly to the "main" books in a way previous issues hadn't been. I proceeded to stick around for #75, of course, and then that was so mind blowing I stuck with the title, and it became part of my regular buys for years.

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  2. That really is an impressive number of issues. The inclusion of #305 really sells the idea that Marvel is trying to get everything reprinted somewhere - more than any other issue in this volume, it really has very little to do with "Fatal Attractions" (if anything, it's more relevant to "Phalanx Covenant".

    I've never quite understood how this dramatic reveal receives such little fanfare in this issue.

    Ditto. Even as a kid it confused me, because it wasn't being hyped as the return of Magneto, even though EVERYTHING was getting hyped back then.

    The story continues directly into WOLVERINE #75 by Larry Hama and Adam Kubert, my personal favorite chapter of "Fatal Attractions"

    I always go back and forth between that and X-MEN #25 as my fave.

    A lot of fans dislike "Fatal Attractions" for undoing Chris Claremont's years-long development of Magneto.

    I will say, as an avowed fan of Claremont's Magneto (it's probably my favorite thing Claremont did, frankly), I don't dislike "Fatal Attractions" for that. Yes, the Magneto in UNCANNY #304 is NOT Claremont's Magneto, but it's also not the Magneto of the rest of the story.

    Magneto in X-MEN #25 isn't that far off, to me, from Claremont's Magneto. Certainly, he feels like a logical extension of the Magneto from X-MEN #1-3, which makes sense: he's not a hero anymore (and he wasn't when Claremont was still writing him), but he's also more noble and complex than his old Silver Age self (or the ranting caricature he was in UNCANNY #304). I have no issues reconciling the Magneto of "Fatal Attractions" with his earlier incarnations. For the most part, it's the natural progression of the arc back to, if not outright villainy, at least a willingness to do villainess things in the name of a perceived greater good that Claremont had him on before he left.

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    1. I think 305 is included here because it was published between UNCANNY 304 and X-MEN 25, and features Xavier convincing Storm to steal the plans for the exo-skeleton he then uses to confront Magneto on Avalon. But otherwise, it's definitely more appropriate for a Phalanx collection. Issue 306, meanwhile, is in the PHALANX COVENANT hardcover, as we'll see in a couple months.

      (In retrospect, this crossover had an odd schedule. It's only six parts, but those parts were published over the course of five months! I somehow never really noticed that as a kid, even though five months in 1993 would've been an eternity.)

      Perhaps I was unfair to say that most fans dislike this crossover's handling of Magneto; I think, as you point out, it's more that fans dislike Scott Lobdell's handling of Magneto -- which I admit that I'm also not in favor of. It's pretty clear from these issues that Lobdell has a different Magneto in his head than anyone else working on the crossover. He seems to be a fan of the cackling Lee/Kirby version while everyone else favors Claremont's latter-day, nuanced interpretation.

      It's so weird to me that Magneto is off the table for close to two years after X-MEN 3, comes back in this big event, and the immediately goes away again as a vegetable for another two years or so until he awakens, amnesiac, on Earth post-AoA. He doesn't really become the Magneto we know again until issue 350! It's like the writers just couldn't figure out what to do with him.

      (Though it could be argued that until the character's reformation, Claremont never knew what to do with him either -- he used him as a villain only three times in his first hundred or so issues before hooking him up with the X-Men!)

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    2. In retrospect, this crossover had an odd schedule. It's only six parts, but those parts were published over the course of five months! I somehow never really noticed that as a kid

      Ditto. I actually didn't really realize that until very recently, when I was looking ahead making my upcoming X-aminations schedule, and I realized that nearly every chapter of the crossover came out in its own month over a five month period of time.

      e doesn't really become the Magneto we know again until issue 350! It's like the writers just couldn't figure out what to do with him.

      Though a version of him does feature heavily in AoA, and then shortly thereafter there's Joseph (who I believe was intended at the time to be Magneto himself), so some form of the character was being used for a little while there.

      Still strange that "Fatal Attractions" brought him back just to sideline him again by the end, and that we went so long without a "proper" Magneto doing anything.

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