Newsarama continues its historical look at the milestone issues of Marvel’s Uncanny X-Men; as the flagship mutant title nears its 500th issue this week. Last installment, we looked back at the 100th issue of the title—a Marvel title still on the brink of cancellation. Did you know that Uncanny X-Men wasn’t its normal “uncanny” self until the 114th issue? It was also a bi-monthly title until issue #112 hit shelves in 1978!
Looking back with a number of “eXperts” Newsarama explores the second century milestone of the Uncanny X-Men—issue #200!
Uncanny X-Men #200
Writer: Chris Claremont
Artist: John Romita Jr.
Inker: Dan Green
Release Date: December 1985
Cover Price: $1.25
Title: “The Trial of Magneto”
Nearly a decade later—the X-Men were some of the most popular characters in comics! December 1985 was a dark time indeed; tragedy strikes as Arrow Air Flight 1285 crashes after taking off killing 256—248 of which were members of the US Armed Forces. John Gotti became the head of the Gambino crime family. American Naturalist Dian Fossey was found murdered in Rwanda.
Team Roster: Cyclops, Colossus, Nightcrawler, Rogue, Storm, Shadowcat, Rachel Summers, and Wolverine. Professor X appears in the issue and Magneto unofficially joins the ranks (sort of…).
Dark times were reflected in the 200th issue of the series—Magneto faces a tribunal for his actions as a mutant terrorist! The X-Men appear in France; returning from Asguard and the events of the 9th Annual. Terrorists attack and leave messages of “Free Magneto” in the name of the X-Men! The Strucker Twins seek vengeance against Magneto for their father, Baron Von Strucker. Professor Xavier has a heart attack—Madeline Pryor-Summers goes into labor with Cyclops son, Cable. Magneto displays his humanity by sparing Andrea Strucker—which causes the prosecution to see his softer side. Freedom Force, New Mutants and the Starjammers—oh my!
How Chris Claremont remembers writing the 200th issue: “With #200, John Romita Jr. and I tackled the X-men's oldest, deadliest villain, Magneto. The purpose of the story was to set the stage for the possibility of his redemption. We put him on trial before the World Court, to give voice to his perspective and put his actions in context: Why did he do the things he did? I felt the readers had to understand that sometimes it isn't simply a matter of right and wrong, good guys and bad guys. From my perspective looking back at Vietnam, and looking around us at the conflict between the United States and the Soviets, and especially between the Israelis and the Arabs, the key to bringing about a resolution of these timeworn disputes has to grow from the knowledge that the other is a person, like us, shaped by history. If we are not to be doomed to repeat history, both sides must grow and change through mutual understanding.”
How Christ Yost (writer, X-Force) remembers reading Uncanny X-Men #200: “Loved this issue, for several reasons. Magneto's turn, the loss of Xavier, the X-Men in France, Fenris... but my favorite memory of the issue was the scene where Kitty realized she needed glasses. I loved that. With everything going on, it was just this really human moment. And this led to Magneto teaching the New Mutants, which I loved. AND John Romita JR kicks ass, no pun intended.”
How Steve Ekstrom remembers reading Uncanny X-Men #200: “I lived overseas—and some of the kids had subscriptions to comics so they got their books faster than the military base got newer stuff. I traded some toys and Garbage Pail Kids (which were hard currency back then…) for this issue. I was 10 years old at the time—and I was really compelled by the loss of Xavier. I mean it’s the “X”-Men—right? Also, having been raised around soap operas, the real heart of the issue with Magneto’s reflections on his actions and the emotional rapport he had with Charles really defined the dramatic hook that pulled me in as a lifelong reader of this series. I realized then that villains had souls too.”
How Troy Brownfield (Associate Editor, The Scream Factory) remembers reading Uncanny X-Men #200: “At the time, I thought #200 was a great issue. I haven't read it in years, but I clearly remember the X-Men battling Fenris with Magneto's trial as the backdrop. The art was great, but the thing that really surprised me was the collapse of Charles's clone body and Magneto subsequently taking his place. That was a really big surprise in the pre-internet mid '80s.
How Lucas Siegel remembers reading Uncanny X-Men #200: “Really, the only thing I remember about this book is Magneto's trial, the Fenris twins, and the worst costume Magneto ever had. That horrible gigantic M. It's M! For Magneto! For Mutant! For Must change this costume!
How Mike Carey remembers reading Uncanny X-Men #200: “Again, it was the ending that made the story. The trial of Magneto itself was pretty tense and absorbing, but it was eclipsed by the bargain made between Magneto and Xavier at the end of the story. Claremont had been setting this up since forever, and the pay-off was dynamite: Xavier was gone and Magneto became the new headmaster of the academy. It was a fantastic twist, and probably the single most important development in Magneto's characterization since his introduction. It's funny, because that riff - enemies becoming X-Men - has been imitated so often since (by me, to name but one) that it's easy to forget the power it had the first time around.”
And Magneto’s tenure as Headmaster of Xavier’s School would not last—as time passed and his dealings with the Hellfire Club and his role in Acts of Vengeance would set the stage for a renewal of his vision of mutant supremacy. Magneto would go on to gather the Acolytes who would play a pivotal role in Uncanny X-Men #300.