Hello, and welcome to The Mutants’ Court, Comicon.com’s new column covering the massive events of Marvel’s X-Men line (at least through the end of the year). With X-Men: The Trial of Magneto and Inferno running concurrently through the end of the year, we wanted to do something a little different. So for the next four months, Comicon’s resident X-perts, Scott Redmond and Tony Thornley, are going to take you through the ins and outs of these two Krakoa-shattering events!
This week, we’re kicking off with the absolutely massive — in a literal and figurative sense — X-Men: The Trial of Magneto by Leah Williams, Lucas Werneck, Edgar Delgado, and Clayton Cowles. Following up mere hours after the shocking ending of X-Factor #10, the Scarlet Witch is dead on Krakoan soil. Now, it’s a race against the clock for X-Factor, X-Force and the X-Men to find the culprit!
Also, fair warning now — this is an in-depth discussion of the issue. That means there be spoilers ahead!
Tony Thornley: Scott, HOLY COW. What a first issue. So here we are pretty much immediately after the Hellfire Gala ended, and Krakoa is in shock. I love how Williams started the issue — X-Factor is wasting no time, acting as the detectives they are. One of the things I think I loved most about X-Factor is how Williams built a cast who was perfect as investigators, and then she leaned into that.
Here, we see it as Akihiro is finding physical evidence and Rachel is using her chronoskimming power. I really enjoyed this scene. Even though this isn’t the first inter-title crossover in the Krakoa era, this is the first time I think we’ve seen entire teams interact like this. While X-Factor is doing their thing, X-Force and X-Men are standing by “supervising.” I love the snark that comes out of that too.
What did you think of our investigation kicking off?
Scott Redmond: I have my gavel and powdered wig ready for all the judging that will be going on!
That was certainly a whole lot to take in within this issue, which I’m not surprised to say when it comes to Williams. One thing you can count on with her work is she’ll find a way to make sure she packs those pages to the brim. I’ve been critical online about how the death happened in the Gala but this event didn’t start till very close to two months later with other books having issues tip toeing around stuff, sort of dragging it out, but holy cow indeed. We just get right into it here.
I loved X-Factor doing the investigation and being rightfully snippy about how the other groups are basically getting in the way and declaring stuff that they already figured out. Seeing all these groups together is great, but even greater is seeing the friction there is as these different groups represent different things on Krakoa now and we’re seeing that society growing head-butting. Gonna grab me some popcorn!
Tony: Before we dig more into the story and the clues dropped here, I have to say I really enjoy the art team’s work in this issue. Werneck is channeling X-line vets Stefano Caselli and Valerio Schiti with his figure work, which is great. But then after a few pages of fairly good but standard layouts, he moves into Wanda’s autopsy and holy crap do the layouts just turn amazing. He shifts into this vine-filled, Krakoan imagery. It’s so cool. It feels like Krakoa itself becomes a storyteller in the book.
Scott: Agreed all around. Werneck has such a clean and detailed and engaging style, and those Krakoan like pages you mentioned were gorgeous. I want them framed on my wall. I truly love that, together, Werneck and Delgado continued the great way that David Baldeón and Israel Silva depicted the use of Rachel’s chronoskimming abilities. All those deep reds, coloring, everything just works for me.
Tony: Yeah, the art team really made some smart calls here (which Williams herself has admitted she’s not giving TONS of guidance on exactly how to do stuff). Between the investigation, the use of powers and the wider moments … good stuff.
Now, in the middle of all of this, X-Factor completes their investigation on several fronts and finds that Wanda was killed through supernatural manipulation of metal. Which Lorna hears … and is absolutely terrified by. Her statement “Give me a headstart…” you know there’s going to be some father-daughter fireworks, which do start very soon. As she storms away, Magneto confronts the council to try to get Wanda resurrected and is rebuffed. So he storms away himself!
Scott: It was a sublime choice to throw in some HoX/PoX celebration homage pages as Magneto left the Quiet Council. Not only for the story reasons of the man not feeling the celebrations anymore as they are now turned against the woman he says he still feels is his daughter. But Werneck and Delgado did a stellar job at recreating the look and the feel, while making it feel far sadder, more out of place, and not jubilant.
I have to say with the overall fight within this issue, I truly truly appreciate how much care was put into the fact that these are seasoned mutants who know their abilities and have fought one another in some form a number of times. This was no one-sided brawl, there was give and take and they were fighting for keeps. Helps to know that you’ll be resurrected pretty quickly (someone gotta talk about that resurrection elitism lol) should you fall in that moment.
Tony: I didn’t think of it that way, but it definitely does add to the recklessness that a lot of the X-Men stories have had in the last 18 months.
Scott: Oh for sure. Even the way the council just pushes each other’s buttons in reckless ways, because like ▪︎-|A|-▪︎ (Apocalypse) showed off in Excalibur they get first return rights. Why be careful when you know that, essentially, at the moment you are immortal? I’m sure there totally won’t be anything coming down the line that might make folks think twice…
Tony: Hell, suddenly Magneto attempting to choke Charles in the DAMN COUNCIL CHAMBERS makes more sense, too. But yes, I’m sure nothing will be causing cracks in the foundation of Krakoa in the very near future that we’ll also be covering.
Scott: Anyone that follows me online is probably quite aware of how I’m a Scarlet Witch fan and have not taken to the way that Marvel collectively has treated the character in comics for years. Other characters were manipulated into committing atrocities much like she was and were brought back into the fold. Logan gets brainwashed against them and murders people like every other day. Bishop committed genocidal mass murder against the future. Genocide is just a past time for Beast at this point.
So in my mind there is a lot riding on this series and what happens, and so far the way Williams is treating this and approaching it speaks volumes. Magneto might be the top suspect, but there is also a passion in how he’s fighting for Wanda and Pietro’s impassioned cries about how she was just in need of help and for someone to at last give her a break. That really got to me, and I trust that this is something that will be resolved in a big and good way by the end. Recent solicits about stuff seem to speak to Marvel at last showing Wanda more of the respect the character deserves, so we shall see.
Tony: Absolutely, and I think everything you just said points to being a redemptive story for all four members of the House of M, whether it ends in Pietro and Wanda being retconned back into the family or not. Williams has talked about how she tries to build stories and series around “empathy engines” for all the characters. For Wanda, she’s absolutely started that here and Lorna gets a few fantastic moments. However, the biggest beneficiary of that in this issue is Pietro, who (after he tries to beat Magneto to death) pauses just long enough to get a drink in the Green Lagoon with three other familiar faces — Toad, Blob and Mastermind. What a masterful scene, with Williams, Werneck, Delgado and Cowles all just nailing every bit of it.
So, in the end, we have a body, which may or may not be mutant, clues that the killer manipulates metal, and a prime suspect who has been rendered comatose by the brother of the victim? Quite a situation they’re in… And then there’s the twist.
What did you think of that twist?
Scott: Redemption and empathy, words I love to hear. Also, yes that scene with the old Brotherhood was a master stroke. Truly loving the work that a handful of the writers really do with remembering old ties and old continuity, but in ways that are more subtle and real and not just a nostalgia cash-in.
As for that twist, I loved it quite a bit. One of the things that I truly like about Williams’ books is that, more often than not, they are not predictable. There is nothing wrong with plots where you can guess where things are going, stories are often meant to be done in a familiar or comforting way or just made so that the reader is in on figuring things out. But when a twist like this takes the thing that I had built up in my head as the likeliest outcome and tosses it aside for something far more intriguing, I’m all in.
Tony: And we’re dancing around it but we’ll say it directly.
Wanda isn’t dead.
Scott: Or as she put it, killed, died but yet alive. But like in a cool way and not like a zombie. At least … not as far as we know … who can say!?
Scott: I will say, if all those flowers and vines on her lead to her coming back with a greater connection to Krakoa than anyone else in some twist, and now others must bow to the pretender, I will laugh my head right off.
Tony: And that sure will make Exodus and others unhappy, no? Hmm, now there’s an interesting potential suspect…
So … where does that leave us after this first issue? I don’t think Magneto did it. Between the end of SWORD #6 and what we’ve seen here … it doesn’t add up. But who did it? I don’t think Lorna. And Zaladane, the next most obvious magnetic mutant, seems like a long shot since she’s not even mentioned here. So either a mutant (Exodus or Cortez maybe?) is framing Magneto, or there’s something mystical that followed Wanda onto Krakoa (which is why she’s in this eldritch grove?) … What do you think?
Scott: I 100% agree, Magneto is too clearly not the culprit. He’s that red herring being dangled out there to be the obvious culprit in the eyes of the others, and who can blame the others for suspecting him. The man does have a high body count and has had some big snapping on others issues in the past. Something is definitely trying to point in his direction. Mystical is a good guess for sure. Other mutants are definitely a possibility, the man has an enemy list ten miles long at this point. I feel like any finger pointed is just going to lead to Williams and company shocking us in some totally unexpected or an expected way but we dismissed it too easily.
Maybe it was Chris Evans in a nice sweater. Too soon for spoilers?
Tony: I mean, Captain America DID make a cameo…
However after this first issue, I don’t think we have enough clues for more than that, so I think we’ll wrap up here, and reconvene in four weeks for #2, then turn right around the week after to talk about Inferno #1! Damn, September is a big month.
One final note — be sure to check out the podcast interview that our friends at ComicsXF did with Williams earlier this week. It’s full of a ton of behind the scenes info about this issue (which we alluded to a couple times in the column), as well as a hint or two.
X-Men: Trial of Magneto #1 is available now from Marvel Comics.