Here's the final Retro-Review for the week, and boy have I saved the best for last! This is my favorite comic book of all-time, and is probably the most historically significant X-Men comic book of the 90's. It's been quite some time since I've last read this comic(at least 6 years), but I can't imagine my feelings towards it have changed that radically these past few years. That's enough of an introduction... This is the X-Men vs Magneto to close out the X-Men's 30th anniversary... This is the climatic final battle of the classic Fatal Attractions storyline... What more needs to be said?
Summary: With Magneto lording over the Earth in his space station, Avalon, the United Nations enacts the Magneto Protocol... The Protocol activates an array of satellites above the planet that effectively negates Magneto's abilities were he to ever step foot on the Earth again. Seeing this defensive maneuver as an attack upon him, as well as something that would hinder his abilities at recruiting more Acolytes to his cause, Magneto plans a swift retribution... To that end he leaves Avalon and flies to the outer reaches of the Earth's atmosphere where he unleashes a massive electro-magnetic pulse wave that destroys all of the satellites, as well as shorts out every piece of technology on the planet, temporarily pushing the planet back to the Dark Ages and causing the deaths of hundreds, if not thousands of people. Thanks to the Shi'ar technology that powered X-Mansion, the X-Men are able to regain power long before anywhere else on Earth. Grasping the enormity of this latest attack on humanity, Prof. X realizes that it was time to finally put an end to his long relationship with Magneto and puts together a small strike force of mutants to head up to Avalon. Prof. X's team? Wolverine and Gambit for their stealth capabilities, himself and Jean Grey for their telepathic force, and Rogue and Quicksilver for their strength and speed, as well as their unresolved emotional issues with Mags. In order to lead the attack personally, Prof. X reveals an exoskeleton that was fueled by his telepathy, granting him the ability to walk, but at the expense of his telepathy. Cyclops and Storm, the X-Men's co-leaders, try to convince Prof. X not to head to Avalon with such a small strike force, but Prof. X is steadfast in his plan and proceeds to teleport up to Avalon thanks to the Shi'ar's advanced technology. As the X-Men arrive on Avalon, former X-Man Colossus deactivates the space station's security systems since he himself was still conflicted as to whether following Mags was the right move. Free to move about undetected, Prof. X hands Quicksilver a disc and tells him to place it in a terminal near the heart of Avalon's life support system. Quicksilver does as told and the disc grants Prof. X access to Avalon's life support and teleportational systems, at which time he teleports all of the Acolytes(with the exception of Colossus) into life support pods and has the station jettison them. Now realizing he was under attack, Magneto storms down the halls of his silent haven and attacks the intruding X-Men. Prof. X informs his team to distract Mags while he linked powers with Jean to force Magneto to relive his more painful moments, from the deaths of his parents in the Nazi concentration camps, to the death of Doug Ramsay, to his wife abandoning him after she witnessed his powers for the first time. Needless to say, Mags is caught off-balance by the uncharacteristically brutal attack inflicted upon his mind by Prof. X and Jean, and is brought to his knees by the physical assault from the other X-Men. As the intensity of the psionic attack increases, Mags begins to lose his tenuous grip on his sanity and decides that he had to murder Quicksilver for the good of mutantkind. Wolverine interrupts this act of filicide and tears Mags chest open with his adamantium claws. The sight of Wolvie moving in for the kill with the approval of Prof. X is too much for Jean, who breaks contact with Prof. X, allowing Mags a moment of clarity... And a moment is all he needs... In that instant, Magneto halts Wolverine in his tracks and tears the adamantium off of his bones(!!!!!), leaving Wolverine laying near dead at his feet. The rest of the X-Men are too stunned to move as Magneto, weakened by both the earlier mental assault from Prof. X and Jean, as well as Wolvie's gory physical assault, looks to Prof. X to see what his next move would be. Prof. X walks over to the battered Magneto and unleashes the full effect of his mental powers, taking away Magneto's most potent weapon, his mind, effectively leaving Magneto comatose. With that, the two longtime foes fall to the ground, Magneto a mindless shell and Prof. X completely expended from his massive power usage. With Jean telekinetically holding Wolverine's body together and telepathically preventing Wolvie from comprehending the magnitude of the damage done to him, the rest of the X-Men fall into disarray, unsure of what to do. It's at that moment Colossus enters the room and tells the X-Men that their battle had knocked out most of Avalon's systems, meaning they wouldn't be able to teleport back home. Colossus continues, telling his former teammates that he had contacted X-Mansion and that Bishop was heading to the space station in a modified Blackbird jet to collect them and bring them home. Jean asks Colossus to return to the Mansion with the rest of the team, but Colossus refuses, telling Jean that since he had allowed the X-Men free rein in Avalon he felt responsible for much of the day's events, and as such would spend the rest of his days caring for the shattered Magneto. Realizing that Colossus wasn't going to budge from his stance, and not having the time to argue with him, Jean collects her fallen comrades and leaves Colossus and Magneto alone on Avalon.
Thoughts: Yep, I think it's safe to say that this is, beyond a shadow of a doubt, the best comic book I have ever read. I've been lucky enough to amass quite the collection of comic books and have read thousands upon thousands of stories, but whenever anybody asks me what my favorite comic is? I invariably come back to this issue... Sure, there have been comics that have moved me more(the Death of Captain Marvel graphic novel always tears me apart whenever I read it), but for the total package? This is the greatest comic in my collection. You don't even really have to be a huge fan of the X-Men to understand this comic book, which is always a sure sign the writer, in this case, Fabian Nicieza, has done his job. This comic expertly combines Nicieza's absolute top of the line storytelling with magnificent dialogue that perfectly tells us the feelings and thoughts of all of the major players in this issue. Throw Andy Kubert's fantastic pencils into the mix and you have a comic book experience that STILL manages to give me goosebumps, YEARS after the first time I read it! I mean seriously, when Mags gives his speech as he's tearing Wolverine apart, I literally got goosebumps... And then the scene where Prof. X just unleashes all of his rage and disappointment at Magneto in one massive telepathic fireball? Goosebumps again! I'd be remiss not to mention Kubert's art during that climatic scene between Magneto and Prof. X... You could almost FEEL the heat coming off the pages as Xavier laid into Magneto! That's how powerful Kubert's pencils are here! As you can probably tell, I could go on and on talking about this comic book. It's probably the reason I'm as big a fan of the medium as I turned out to be. If I had never read this comic, I can honestly say that I'm not sure I'd be AS into comic books as I am... This single issue is also the reason I'll always hold the X-books to such high standards, be that unreasonable or not. If I were to compile a list of my favorite comic books, #2-#10 would probably give me great difficulty putting together, but #1? Piece of cake. If you've never read this comic book, I'd implore you to hunt it down and give it a read. Even if it doesn't connect with you as strongly as it does me, I can promise you you'd still enjoy it. This issue gets the highest recommendation I could possibly give to any comic book... 'Nuff said.
Score: 10 out of 10.My words can't possibly do this scene justice.