January 1977: X-Men 104 – In which we learn that if you are going to rent a hovercraft dressed in spandex, pay for insurance as well.

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X-Men 104 was written by Chris Claremont and drawn by Dave Cockrum and this story was called: The Gentleman’s name is Magneto


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Synopsis: The X-Men rent a hovercraft from gruff Scottish stereotype Angus McWhirter. I say they rent it, he doesn’t believe they are who hired it, so technically, they steal it and then head over to Muir Island. As they approach the hovercraft is torn to pieces mid journey and they are brought before Magneto. Cyclops and Moira also arrive, with Cyclops painfully aware that with this new team of X-Men have had no anti-Magneto training, since he had been reduced to a baby. Yeah, let me repeat that part of the show, reduced to a baby. They find one of my favourite X-Characters, Jamie ‘Multiple Man’ Madrox who tells them that Erik the Red fired a beam at Baby Magneto, returning him to full size as a youngish man at the height of his powers. Meanwhile, Magneto just demolishes the team and even Cylcops’ arrival makes no real difference. Realising that this is a mere distraction, Cylcops orders a retreat, much to the chagrin of Wolverine. Magneto feels triumphant and also leaves. On a spaceship in another galaxy, a human being with a frankly awesome porn tache talks ominously about stars moving into alignment and the Emperor’s plans, while his sister heads to Earth where Erik the read, Havok and Polaris are about to attack Professor X and Phoenix at her apartment.

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Notes: This comic is stupid fun. The ideas in here are bonkers in their concept and execution. The hovercraft exploding, the fact that Magneto was a BABY, who used to be an old man, who was turned back into a younger man is just ridiculous. Problem is, Claremont makes it work. He crafts the story in such a way that you notice how bonkers it is, but just run with it. Everyone has their own voice, peppered with stereotypical verbal tics and catchphrases and this adds to the tension. No one 100% trusts one another, so when Cyclops says to leave, everyone starts questioning him. In the background we have some Claremonting, which is plot threads being put out there, so they can be looked at later. Dragonfly from the Ani-Men escapes, as does Mutant X. But so several issue pass between the escape and the consequences, that it’s impossible to guess whether this was all planned, or improvised from these dangling threads later. The story I have heard is that whenever Chris Claremont threatened to quit over being burnt out, the editor would point out one of these dangling threads and he’d keep writing for a year with that as a starting point. It’s not all writing, Cockrum’s art is dynamic and eye catching, every panel jumping off the page.

Relevance: To be honest, it’s hard to say, seeds of the Revenge of Magneto, the Proteus Saga, the Phoenix and the Dark Phoenix Saga are all on display here, but to be honest that was most issues. The only thing of note for this issue alone is the first appearance of the Starjammers, despite them not being named.

Next Time: Rick Jones, in concert.


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