Berkough’s Bargain Bin: X-Men #25

Chris Claremont
Chris Claremont

Claremont worked quite hard over the course of many issues–and years–worth of Uncanny to develop the character arc for Magneto; from a character that was an unremarkable villain and quintessentially evil, to a character with a lush and complex backstory that wonderfully explained his motives. Erik Lehnsherr was transformed throughout the 70s from a cliche to a misunderstood evangelist of mutantkind. Eventually Magnus would even be redeemed to the level of icon for the mutant movement, worthy of carrying Xavier’s vision of peaceful co-existence between humans and mutants (so long as humans remain in their place, subjugated and docile.)

Magneto and Kitty
Magneto has a moment of weakness and reflection.

Spending more than a decade as the sole writer and auteur of the X-Men franchise, Claremont was faced with the realization that his work had blossomed and bloomed along with the rest of the comicbook industry, slowly being swallowed by money and the corporatism that infected the college finance classrooms of the nineteen-eighties.  Somewhere between the height and boom of 1989’s Uncanny X-Men and the release of 1991’s “X-Men;” the hotshot artists of Marvel (Jim Lee, Marc Silvestri, and Rob Liefeld) and Bob Harras (supervising editor of the X-Books after Louise Simonson and Ann Nocenti) made a ploy to bolster sales even further–in spite of Claremont’s protest–by conspiring to make Magneto a true villain again. Arguably this was one of the best business decisions that could have been made for Marvel and the X-books at that time, that decision lead to the best selling X-Men issue of all-time with 1991’s X-Men #1. Kids like me didn’t care that Chris Claremont was writing the X-Men, all we cared about was how cool Jim Lee drew the characters, and apparently the execs at Marvel agreed. After only three issues, Claremont departed, and Jim Lee took over plotting before writes like Scott Lobdell and Fabian Nicieza.

Magneto rips the adamantium from Wolverine's body.
We are all but bit players in a tragedy far larger than any of us… a tragedy called life[.]”

As new writers took over, Magneto was once again a villain, but the fervor of his cause and the motivations which drove him to malevolence now had a deep-rooted and well-established canonical lore behind them. So when 1993’s Fatal Attractions story arc culminated in the extraction of the adamantium from Wolverine’s body, it was glorious; both expected and shocking.

X-Men (1991) Volume 2, Issue #25 is a key moment in X-Men history, and particularly in 90s X-Men history. If you’re looking to get started collecting these comics, it’s a fairly cheap pickup, and isn’t a particularly rare book, but it does feature a cool hologram card on the front, and honestly, every time I pick this issue out of my collection I find that there’s a lot to admire about it. The artwork is fresh and fluid, the themes are the epitome of what the X-Men would come to represent for young and disenfranchised GenXers and Elder Millenials (like myself), and while Wolverine has been killed at least a couple different times since this issue was published, he’s never been quite as brutalized as he is here with the adamantium oozing out of his pores at the twist of Magneto’s fist.

Logan lies on his back near death.
The X-Men wonder if their compatriot has perished at the hands of Magneto.