The time-displaced X-Men’s worst fears about Magneto may finally be coming true, but will they be able to stop him from giving in to his worst impulses?
X-Men Blue #32 – Kings and Queens Part Two
Writer: Cullen Bunn
Artist: Andrés Genolet
Color Artist: Matt Milla
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Cover: R.B. Silva & Rain Beredo
What You Need to Know:
Due to the recent events with the Mothervine, Miss Sinister, and Havok, Magneto has been pushed to the brink and has snapped, turning towards his inner darkness to further his mutant agenda and protect mutantkind the best way he knows how. His first target? The White Queen, Emma Frost. Unfortunately for him, the time-displaced, original five X-Men have appeared on the scene, not to work with him, but to protect his target from him.
What You’ll Find Out:
Having seen Magneto coming for Emma Frost at the end of the last issue, the X-Men rush out to meet Magneto in the streets of Paris, with Emma in tow because she’s really never been one to shy away from a fight. Jean tells Magneto to stand down because there are innocents around them, and Magneto asks if they were any more innocent than the ones that Emma has murdered in her past. He asks for Emma to be surrendered to him or he will rip Paris apart. Jean tells him that they don’t want to fight but to talk, because everything has been a misunderstanding, but Magneto won’t listen. Mutants suffered because of Emma, and she must pay for her sins.
Scott tries to rally the X-Men, telling them that taking down Magneto is what they have always prepared for, but Magneto points out that they were also meant to stand against Emma Frost, to stand in defense of mutants. Magneto feels that the time-displaced X-Men turned their backs on their cause, that they abandoned it, and he attacks the X-Men. Scott tries to explain that his father needed them, and so they had to go, but Magneto argues that they were needed there too – that the mutants needed them on Earth. Jean argues that they did what they thought was right, and Magneto tells them that they should have known they were needed there because he had warned them that the enemies of mutantkind would soon strike them, and instead they were protecting Emma.
Magneto then attacks Emma, using his powers to wrap a steel bar around her throat. Lucky for Emma, she was in diamond form, so the harm that Magneto could do was less threatening, though she was still in obvious pain. Bobby tries to help free Emma from her predicament, but Magneto knocks Bobby out of the way. Emma tells Magneto that he can’t possibly choke her while she’s in her diamond form, and he explains that he’s not planning on it – he’s not there to play games. Unfortunately, Emma’s neck gets a crack in it during this altercation.
Hank realizes that Magneto has been using Mutant Growth Hormone to max out his powers, and Jean realizes that they might not be able to stop him, though that’s not going to stop Warren from attacking Magneto. Watching Warren, Hank figures out that Magneto’s shields aren’t impervious – there are weak spots that they can find. Jean gets to work on sussing out those weak spots, though Magneto warns her that things won’t work the way she thinks they will and that she cannot save Emma from Magneto. Jean finds a weak spot and, with Scott, takes Magneto out – or at least they think they have.
Emma knows better, of course, and Magneto starts his attack again, and Jean calls on Pickles the Bamf to teleport Emma out of there. They face off against Magneto again, ideologies clashing, Magneto asking for Emma’s location, which the X-Men will not give up. Hank threatens to use his magical abilities because they need the extra firepower against Magneto, but Magneto takes him out before he can – not because he was scared of the powers, but because he doesn’t want to see Hank make a difficult, devastating choice because of him. Angry, Scott attacks and Magneto takes him down too, and Warren right after that. The X-Men are outmatched, but Jean Grey isn’t one to give up, and so she summons all of her powers to fight him, refusing to back down. Magneto knows Jean well enough to know that she won’t back down, though, and rightly says that her greatest strength is her willingness to always sacrifice everything to save the world, but he won’t allow Jean to sacrifice herself against himself. He lowers himself and says that if they continue to fight, they both might die, and that is not something he can have happen. He tells Jean that when Emma had attacked him, he used the time platform to see something awful in the future, but he doesn’t tell Jean what, deciding instead to fly away.
Later that night, the X-Men meet Emma in a cabin in the woods, and Emma tells them that she has no reason to stay there, she has resources and means, and he’s eventually going to find her anyway. Scott explains that they’re not forcing her to stay there, but that it might be wise to take some time to heal, especially since they may not be around much longer to help her out. Jean agrees with Scott, telling Emma that she and Magneto have to find a way to work things out without killing each other because once they’re gone, the X-Men will need both of them.
What Just Happened?:
Essentially one very long fight scene between Magneto and the X-Men – with some damseling by Emma Frost – where this issue works best is the clash in ideologies between the X-Men and Magneto. The X-Men want to stave off a fight between Magneto and Emma Frost, believing that the two need to work their differences out and find a way to work together because the future of mutantkind will need both of them. Magneto, on the other hand, wants to take Emma down because he believes that she’s part of the reason why mutants have suffered so much in recent times, and he’s not about to take no for an answer. Bunn sets up the antagonistic relationship between the two factions very well, but he especially excels at writing Jean and Magneto. Bunn’s Magneto is layered and complicated – though he’s angry, it’s not a sort of blind anger, it’s an anger that’s directed at very specific parties. It’s an interesting look at Magneto, one that serves him better than ones where he’s just angry and evil without a reason. The fact that he stands down when he realizes that a battle between himself and Jean will end in death speaks to how much more he’s grown away from the standard villain that he used to be – the same goes for how he knocks Beast out before Beast makes a terrible mistake with his powers. He clearly cares about the X-Men and doesn’t want to turn them.
Unfortunately, where the issue falters is the damseling of Emma Frost. Traditionally, Emma has always been a very strong character, able to go toe to toe with the Dark Phoenix, Cassandra Nova, and others, usually while able to hold her own, so the idea that she needs to be protected against Magneto feels a little false against the character, even though the in-story reasons for it are valid from the perspective of the X-Men. Just as damning is the moment where Emma’s neck cracks while in diamond form, a shout-out to an injury sustained by the character in the X-Men First Class movie under similar circumstances by Magneto. While it’s effective at showing the strength of Magneto’s rage against Emma, previously it’s been shown that Emma’s only weak spot in her diamond form is her nose, which had been surgically improved before her secondary mutation kicked in, thus making it not as organic as the rest of her. Having said that, though, Emma is still plenty snarky, and Bunn knows how to write her dialogue well.
Andrés Genolet takes over art duties for this issue, and his quite a cartoony style, which serves the action of the story well. There are some moments where the faces tend to be a little too over-exaggerated, like an early panel where Jean is yelling, or a close-up of Magneto’s face on the second page. But the action is kinetic and wild and loose, and it’s very expressive art. The time-displaced X-Men also feel like teenagers, which is nice because, under other artists, they’ve been drawn to look as though they’re in their twenties. The art might seem a little jarring at first because every issue has had a different artist, but it really works to the script’s strengths. Matt Milla continues his run as colorist on the title, and he keeps a bright classic palette. Overall, it’s a very good-looking book, though one that might take a couple of pages to ease into before you can really appreciate the art.
Final Thoughts: Though there have been stronger issues of X-Men Blue, this is a solid outing, especially when it focuses on Magneto, which is where Bunn truly shines. This issue earns a solid recommendation, especially for fans of the Master of Magnetism.
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