X-Men on Trial
At last, the X-Men have a solid lead on Factor Three. This secret organization, its members and its plan, will be unmasked. With so many villains that could be holding a grudge against the X-Men, who will we see? We’re certain to see some new faces as well. Whoever they are, they’re planning on holding the X-Men on trial for crimes against the mutant race. Issue 37 is one of the most exciting I’ve read in a while.
Back in issue 35, Banshee sent out a distress signal to the X-Men, warning them of a spider. They traced the signal back to the mountains of central Europe. The story now picks up with the X-Men in a commercial airliner heading to the region, hoping to find the lair of Factor Three, and their kidnapped friends. I guess the X-Plane is still out of gas. Charles really needs to give Scott a company card.
Their (probably twelfth) vacation is interrupted however when a flying saucer attacks their aircraft. Realizing that the attackers are only after them, they do the most badass thing I could think of. They just jump out of the plane, without thinking. Then, as they’re tumbling out, Scott eye-blasts the attacking aircraft. Just fucking destroys it.
What follows is honestly one of the longest and most absurd conversations the entire team has had up until this point. It goes on for five pages. They talk about shit for five pages while they tumble out of the sky. Yet even though they’re talking, they take care of business. Angel can’t carry them all, and Jean’s telekinesis isn’t strong enough to stop them, only slow them.
What ensues is a series of moves involving eye-blasts, ice slides, teamwork, and a hard landing. Good work, guys. I’m impressed.
Once they land, they immediately find trouble. Spider robots and Sandpeople surround them and take them captive, employing a sleep agent.
When they awake, they are shocked to find that they’re being held captive in some sort of force field. Before them is a large television screen with images of their captors. It is none other than four of the X-Men’s previous adversaries. Vanisher, Unus, Mastermind, and the Blob have teamed up and are out for bloody revenge.
Then it is revealed that two new characters are actually running the show. There is the Changeling as the second in command and the common voice of Factor Three. He’s a bit sniveling and mad, and he wears a really stupid hat. In fact, when I first saw him I thought he was the Unicorn. Operating above him in the shadows (literally) is the Mutant Master, a mysterious and powerful mutant bent on world domination. The extent of his powers are a mystery, but we know that he does not have use of his legs, a trait he shares with Charles Xavier.
The Mutant Master charges the X-Men with treason against the mutant race. Factor Three is angry that they have chosen to protect humans rather than aid fellow mutants. The Changeling reveals that both Professor X and the Banshee are being kept alive in what appears to be cryogenic stasis or anesthesia.
Once the trial begins, each of the X-Men’s four previous adversaries have a chance to plea their case. Beginning with the Vanisher, they each tell their harrowing tale about how the big, mean X-Men came and beat them up and took away their powers or their memory or their dignity. They neglect to mention that they were stealing and breaking things and being assholes. Still, as we’ve mentioned, the X-Men have really had it coming for quite some time. They haven’t formed any sort of moral code for how to properly treat criminal mutants.
Once they’ve each had their chance to speak, the Mutant Master declares the X-Men guilty. Without every having a chance to defend themselves, the team is given a sentence of execution. However before he does, he makes sure to explain his entire plan to them, so that they know what pain and misery is about to befall the human race. They plan to bomb a meeting of important communist leaders, and then fire American nukes at Russia. They know that Russia will retaliate, and the human race will perish in a nuclear winter. The Mutant Master assumes that they and other mutants will be left to rule the Earth.
But first, the X-Men are hooked up to some sort of electro execution device.
It reminds me of a very old episode of the Simpsons.
Using Bobby’s ice and Jean’s telekinesis, they melt water onto the machine, shorting it out. Thinking they escaped, they have to fight a giant robot. Luckily they have a lot of experience destroying giant robots at this point, and they make short work of it.
As it turns out, the robot was the security guard for when no one is home. Factor Three has fled their base to enact their evil plan, and the X-Men only have an hour to stop that chain of events and save the world. They’re in some hidden fortress in the mountains of Europe, and don’t even know how to get out. Will they be able to do it all in time?
This issue was a great read and really stands out after the dry run of random goofiness, run-ins, and distractions they had leading up to this. The story isn’t finished yet, as the next two issues will continue the X-Men’s battle with Factor Three.
Dave and I have mentioned that the X-Men aren’t following the moral code that they have developed in the later comics, regarding issues like telepathy and mind control. Yes, they’ve saved the world and they stop evil villains, but they do so with a certain disregard to inalienable rights and due process. The Charles Xavier of today… well the Charles Xavier of a year ago never would have carelessly mind erased evil mutants and released them back into society. There is the law. But it was the 60’s and we were all experimenting with various ideas and substances. It’s nice to see that the X-Men are paying some cost for their questionable methods. I’m interested to see if these events will help reshape their approach in the future, and I wonder how long it will take until Charles addresses any of this.