Magneto travels to the future to escape the present – but even in the future, he has to contend with a group of angry X-Men!
X-Men #33 – Surviving the Experience Part One
Writer: Cullen Bunn
Artist: Marcus To
Color Artist: Matt Milla
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Cover: R.B. Silva & Rain Beredo
What You Need to Know:
During his battle with Havok, Emma Frost, and the Mothervine, Magneto had used his time platform to travel to the future. When he returned, he kept what he had seen a closely guarded secret, telling no one. This is what he had seen in the future…
What You’ll Find Out:
After using the time platform to escape his current predicament, Magneto lands nineteen years into his future, in New York City. He’s been trying to flee the terrible things he’s done, even though he feels that he should know better by now – there is no fleeing your past or the terrible things that you do. He realizes that the future he’s stepped into – filled with skulls and dead bodies that are impaled with rebar – exists because of him. He feels as though he’s meant to see this world, and he wonders if maybe fate has brought him here.
The streets of the city are filled with the ghosts of the Mothervine mutants that Magneto had promised to help and then killed. Not knowing what he can do to make things right, he continues to wander through the streets. As he starts to realize that true redemption may be an impossibility for him, he comes across a group of human/robotic hybrids capped Reavers. They threaten to hurt him, and Magneto warns them to turn around and walk away, but of course, they don’t listen, causing Magneto to call on his powers and form a new costume from the things around him. Revealing himself as Magneto, he attacks the Reavers, who are surprised to find Magneto alive. Having destroyed the Reavers, Magneto once more finds himself surrounded by the ghosts of those he’s hurt, and he explains to the ghosts that they were not themselves, and he had no time to think, only to act.
As he mourns his past misdeeds – if he hadn’t killed those attacking him, he wouldn’t have survived and he if he’d died, this reality would not have existed – he’s met by a little, blue, elfin mutant who looks awfully familiar for anyone who’s ever laid their eyes on Nightcrawler or Nocturne. This little mutant child, with an M-brand over her right eye, is surprised to see Magneto back since he’s believed dead in this timeline. The child urges Magneto to go with her, but Magneto tries to explain to the child that she is mistaken – he’s not who she thinks he is. She leads him to a giant, very imposing statue of Magneto.
No sooner has Magneto taken in the statue than a bunch of mutants come out to greet him, excited that he’s returned, though none of them had believed that he would ever return. Magneto tries to find out what had happened in this timeline to bring them to this point, and the child is surprised he doesn’t remember. The child cryptically explains that Magneto did what needed to be done and saved the mutants from the Reaver virus, which no one else – including the Avengers – had been able to do. Seeing how many people had died around them, Magneto remarks that he had become the monster that people had feared he would. The child tells him that he was what the people had needed him to be at that time, and explains that the Reaver virus hadn’t started as a cybernetic contamination, but as hate. Magneto says that he knows what hate can mutate into, and the mutants around him start to take his word as something sacred, which he tells them to stop doing.
As he tells the mutants gathered around him that his honors shouldn’t be honored as a sacred thing, he’s visited by the X-Men. Four of them, anyway – Jean Grey, Cyclops, Beast (in his magical beast form), and Angel – and none of them are happy to see him.
What Just Happened?:
X-Men Blue, as it heads into its final issues, is clearly Magneto’s book, and that’s no bad thing. Cullen Bunn writes a wonderfully layered, complex, conflicted Magneto – one torn between the actions of his past and the future it has the power to bring about. Magneto has always been at his most interesting when he’s been standing in a grey area between the side of good and evil when he’s had to come face to face with the ghosts of his past misdeeds and find a way to reconcile them into the person he wants to be. Bunn doesn’t let the reader down in that regard – his Magneto is definitely compelling.
Magneto had important reasons for keeping this future a secret from the present forms of the time-displaced X-Men when he’d returned to the past, and one of them is clear in retrospect. A couple of issues ago, Magneto told Hank McCoy not to use his magic to summon his magical beast form, and it’s clear Magneto is trying to avoid that so that this future, in part, does not come to pass. It does bring up the question as to where Iceman could be, though. We’ve seen a few different versions of Iceman’s future – one in which he’s an ice wizard of a sort – so hopefully he’ll have some future here beyond simply being dead.
The Reavers and the Reaver Virus – so reminiscent of the techno-organic virus, at least visually – are an interesting concept, and one wonders if Bunn will be able to explore them further in another book since this one will be ending soon. It’s unclear if the Reaver virus is supposed to be the same as the techno-organic virus, but this virus seems to have started off because of hate, which means that it probably comes from something other than the Technarchy. No matter its origin though, enough juicy tidbits are dropped that one wants to see this explored just a bit more. (What also needs to be explored is the little blue elfin kid. She seems to be Nightcrawler’s kid, which makes one wonder who else might have off-spring in this future. Lorna, perhaps?)
Marcus To returns for art duties in this issue, and he’s always a welcome artist to have come aboard. His art is slick, polished, expressive, full of detail, and, well, beautiful. He always hands in great work, and he doesn’t disappoint this time around. The ghosts are rendered hauntingly enough, and the scene where Magneto summons a new costume out of nowhere is masterfully done. The pain and anger on Magneto’s face as he goes through the story are rendered beautifully as well. Matt Milla continues to color the book even as it rotates artists, and as always, his colors and the palette he chooses wonderfully complement the penciler’s work. The colors he chooses for the ghosts that haunt Magneto come off as perfectly otherworldly without venturing into a cartoonish place and the future he colors here is drab, with gashes of bold, cool color that really help set the right mood for the proceedings.
Final Thoughts: What this issue lacks in action it makes up for by being a magnetic (sorry) character study about a man who has lived a life full of hard choices and the regrets and ghosts those hard choices tend to bring. It’s a must-read for fans of Magneto but comes highly recommended even for non-fans. Bunn is clearly building towards an interesting grand finale, and it shouldn’t be missed.
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