Friday, November 24, 2006

Yes. That is a Gambit hologram attached to the cover.THE X-MEN versus MAGNETO
Fatal Attractions: Dreams Fade (Marvel comics)
X-Men #25 When: October 1993
Why: Fabian Nicieza How: Andy Kubert

The story so far...
Growing ever tired of the struggle between human and mutant, Magneto declares himself and his intentions to the X-Men at the funeral of Illyana Rasputin. It is here that Colossus shocks his colleagues by defecting.

More powerful than ever, and intent on ending his war with humanity, Magneto poses a greater threat than ever before. With that in mind, the world initiates the Magneto protocols in an attempt to exile him from the Earth.

A net is relayed around the globe, designed to affect Magneto's powers within the electromagnetic field of the Earth. Magneto penetrates it, and bathes much of the world in a technology destroying pulse.
His hand forced, Professor Xavier forms a crack team to infiltrate Magneto's stronghold, and put an end to their feud once and for all.

Previous Form:
X-Men: The X-Men have had several victories against Nimrod, Wolverine and Magneto.
Magneto (#184): Magneto was previously unsuccessful in an attempt to recruit Namor, and defeat the X-Men.
Professor X (#177): Xavier was also unsuccesful in recruiting Namor.
Wolverine (#4): Wolverine has had various victories, including matching the Invaders.

Tale of the tape...
Strength: Rogue 6 (Invincible)
Intelligence: Professor X (Professor)
Speed: Quicksilver 6 (Sound Speed)
Stamina: Wolverine 6 (Generator)
Agility: Gambit 3 (Acrobat)
Fighting Ability: Wolverine 6 (Warrior)
Energy Powers: Magneto 6 (Mass Destruction)

We just dealt with Magneto in the previous post, but there's certainly a recognisable difference. Some thirty years later, Magneto has become a much more powerful and sure character than he was. At this point in time Magneto is a threat on a global scale, and believing himself to be every bit the mutant messiah he has professed to hapless followers.

Also unlike the previous entry, Magneto stands alone against the X-Men.
As part of their covert entry onto the Avalon orbital fortress, the X-Men use Magneto's own teleportation systems to clear the station of his Acolyte soldiers. Among those removed is Exodus, Magneto's greatest follower.

The team of X-Men chosen for the mission are an interesting crew: Wolverine and Gambit are selected for their stealth; Quicksilver and Rogue provide speed, strength, and also an emotional string to pull at Magneto; and finally Jean Grey and Professor Xavier himself pose a psychic strikeforce.
Professor X is mobile by means of a Shi'Ar exoskeleton that is controlled by his own staggering mental will. It is a great drain, thus necessitating Jean's presence.

Cyclops, Storm and other X-Men are overlooked because their talents are inappropriate for a space station, and also because the Professor desires a strong voice for the next generation to remain behind. Yes, this is where things get serious. Even the Professor doesn't expect to come back.

So, in a vaccuum, who would win such a match?
Magneto has proven over time that he can be more than a match for any collection of foes. The breadth of his abilities allow him considerable defensive advantage against any army, and given the presence of magnetic materials throughout the globe, most battlefields present a ready-made arsenal, assuming he doesn't just feel like taking you outside the Earth's atmosphere.

With the reality of these stories, the X-Men will likely at least hold Magneto to a stalemate. The Professor's presence alone has to be considered a great equalizer for the X-Men, as his presence usually delays Magneto's will to inflict lasting injury.

It's really a tough call. On any given day it could go either way.
I think for my taste, the numbers have to be what tips it in the favour of the X-Men, but Magneto is a helluva tough customer. On paper, he's pretty tough to beat.

Average: Magneto 28 (+5.5)
Overall: The X-Men (+106)
The Pick: The X-Men

What went down...
The suicide mission sees minor resistance from former students, before the mass evacuation of the base. It is this that alerts Magneto to the presence of the infiltrators, and with a wall tearing blast of magnetic energy, he is there.

Wolverine is the first X-Man up, leaping into the fray with little regard for his own safety. His attack provides as much an offensive play, as an opportunity for his allies to regroup. Unfortunately for Wolvie, his claw points are moot.
"Ah, Logan... We dance the dance again and again... And you've never learned the steps very well, have you?"

Jean and the Professor unite to prepare a psychic attack against Magneto's own mental defenses, while the other X-Men enter the battle. Gambit's kinetically charged cards provide the lapse needed for the two psychics to break through.

John Bender wept.While he batters the Cajun with shrapnel, Xavier and Grey penetrate the recesses of Magneto's mind. Sifting through the darkest memories and greatest failures of the self professed mutant savior, they find fact and fiction merged.

With the inner battle raging, Rogue leaps into battle knocking Magneto upside the head, and the personal attacks continue. His own son, Quicksilver, speeds into the picture rocking his father with a devestating uppercut.

Magneto quickly retards his son's attack, but his steely will was inhereted by Pietro Maximoff. Even frozen to the spot, Quicksilver remains defiant until the psychic war waging within again provides a lapse in Magneto's concentration, granting Quicksilver an opportunity to strike with a fierce headbutt.

A furious father lashes out at such a betrayal, tossing his son with unbridled magnetic blasts. Driven to apparent madness, Magneto demands the death of his own blood.

Lurking in the shadows, Wolverine prepares to make another attack.

Wolverine throws himself at his foe. While reruns of betrayal tear at Magneto's psyche, Wolverine tears the fabric from Magneto's chest with his deadly adamantium claws.

"Any man who'd try an' kill his own son deserves no less."
Wolverine's declaration of intent wrenches Jean Grey from her telepathic assault, as she pleads for the greater good. Xavier desperately calls her back to his aid as he struggles with the exertion of his exoskeleton.

The brief pause presumably gives Magneto the clarity to gather himself, inspite of injury, to throw one final attack at the Wolverine. One final gesture designed not just to clear the deck, but to finish the game once and for all.

"... It begins with a small tug -- An almost gentle pull -- A harder yank -- Then a wrench tear --"

What a rip!... Yuk yuk...In one of the darkest moments in X-Men history, the adamantium that famously laced Wolverine's skeleton leeches outward, tearing through flesh and skin.
Jean Grey cannot maintain her concentration, as she joins the other horrified X-Men.

Xavier on the other hand maintains his hand, attacking with new resolve.
He clutches Magneto by the collar and poors outward the emotion of decades, and with that, unleashes a psychic attack unparalleled.

In that one briefest of moments, Xavier can take no more, and while he will not kill, there is an alternative for one of his talent.
He reaches deep into his old friend's mind and clutches not at bitter truths, nor does he flashcard moments of failure or defeat. He simply summons his great power, and ensures that Magneto will never, ever kill again.

With his mind erased, Magneto staggers forward and as his eyes go blank, he utters his final words; "Char--les... I never thought... You would..."

The exertion of wiping Magneto's mind clean leaves Xavier unable to control his Shi'Ar suit any longer. He joins Magneto, tumbling downward to the floor.

Colossus comes to his new master's aid.
He pledges himself to the well being of Magneto, hoping to do for him what he could not for his sister. Colossus reveals his responsibility in blinding censors of the X-Men's incursion, he also informs them that he called Bishop to come to their aid.

With that, the X-Men leave.

The hammer...
If there is a winner here, it's Professor Xavier, although as many readers know, this isn't the end for Magneto, or the Professor.

Jeph Loeb and Rob Liefeld have teamed again ten years later to produce Onslaught Reborn, a story detailing the return of the creature called Onslaught.

For those who came in late Onslaught directly ties to this Fatal Attrations issue, as a psychic manifestation of Professor Xavier's guilt and negativity, largely for what he did to Magneto here. This is the reason for Onslaught's appearance, which resembles quite obviously a distorted image of Magneto.

This is actually one of my favourite X-Men stories.
I think the X-Men in particular have been involved in many events of scope, and dealt with many tragedies, but in a lot of ways I think this is the one that stands out as being when things got really serious.

There's a sombre tone to this story that dances somewhere between the grim hard reality of the story, and the bright spandex of the Jim Lee defined characters. Stories had dealt with this tone before, and they've certainly done so after, but there's just something about Fatal Attractions that resonates to me.

I think perhaps it's largely due to the fact that two franchise players are dealt hefty blows. Yes, Jean Grey died at the end of the Phoenix saga, but even at her height Jean Grey can't compare in monetary value and status to Wolverine and Magneto.

Certainly the imagery in the issue that followed [Wolverine #75] cannot be denied. If you thought seeing the adamantium being ripped from Wolverine's body was an awe inspiring sight, then you clearly haven't seen the first time he popped the raw bone claws. Wow!
Despite it's flippant subject matter, that's some pretty gorey, surprising stuff!

Not being a huge X-fan is probably what has facilitated these last couple of entries, and I must confess that you can probably expect at least one more X-Men feature in December's updates.
As over saturated as they may have become, the X-Men still possess some of the most compelling and enjoyable characters in comics. Their stable of heroes and villains is unparalleled, and it's nice to have that touch of diversity.

Anyway, we're at January 12 right now.
Slowly but surely catching up! Thanks for the patience, guys!

The Fight: 5 The Issue: 6

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