byzantine's The X-Men #43 - The Torch Is Passed...! review

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Funeral of Xavier

This is the final issue of Roy Thomas' first run of the title. It includes a funeral for Professor X, a set-up of the X-Men's new situation and a reintroduction to the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. A Pretty good issue. But lets see what we have here.
- The issue opens with the funeral of Xavier. Taking place in an unnamed graveyard under constant rain. A Reverend Brown is presiding. Only Angel, Beast, Cyclops,  Iceman, and Marvel Girl bothered to turn up and mourn for him. Jean offers an explanation for two notable absences. Fred Duncan did not wish to reveal his secret affiliation with the dead man. Banshee is preoccupied with a mission of his own. 

Scott maintains a poker face and is thinking about the legacy of Xavier. Which lies in the X-Men's determination to keep protecting the world. Jean seems to be either crying or about to do so. Robert and Warren are silent. Hank reminisces about the Professor leading the way in so many battles. 

The funeral is a sorry spectacle. Xavier apparently had no family, lovers, or friends. Not even his colleagues in the scientific community bothered to turn up. So much for the man which even Reed Richards respected as a brilliant scientist. The rain may be a stereotypical element for moody scenes. But it works here. Nice touch to have Hank being the one most affected of the death. 

- Magneto observes the funeral from his headquarters. Watching through a crystal orb. He doesn't mourn for the fallen mutant. His only regret is not having a chance to personally kill Professor X. Both Max and the X-Men are surprised to note a late arrival at the funeral. Someone paying his respects from a safe distance. The man is Quicksilver, Magneto's protege. Pietro himself is unsure of his motives in attending.

The X-Men attempt to approach him. Scott questions his reasons from being there. He tries to approach Pietro to make sure their conversation isn't overheard by Father Brown. Pietro figures that Summers is trying to lull him in a false sense of security. While actually preparing to attack. He escapes in an attempt to avoid contact. Leaving the X-Men bewildered. Pietro himself is bitterly thinking that there is nobody he can trust. Other than Magneto himself.

An intriguing scene. Pietro no longer feels wrath for the world at large as in "Avengers" #49. But he now has a sense of being constantly threatened. He doesn't trust either the Avengers or the X-Men. He is getting paranoid. His trust in Magneto is the result of Max's manipulation of his perceptions. 

- The X-Men view a pre-recorded message of Xavier for them. (Unclear if its the original or the Changeling in this instance). He is ready to go face Grotesk and feels pressed for time. He briefly explains about his terminal disease and training Jean in the use of telepathy. Then warns them of his suspicion "that Magneto has returned to Earth". He then wishes them farewell.

Most of the information isn't actually new. It reintroduces elements from the previous issue and points emphasis on the recent upgrade to Jean's powers. The only real news is the Prof being aware of the return of Magneto. In a message recorded prior to his encounter with the Avengers. I guess Cerebro located a familiar signature. 

That said this is an underwhelming scene. The X-Men keep using the Xavier Mansion and its equipment. But the legal status of said use is undetermined. He leaves no apparent heirs and there is no will mentioned. Shouldn't the X-Men be leaving? 

- Back in the Brotherhood's island headquarters, the situation is much less pleasant that the previous thoughts of Pietro indicated:

*Magneto is using his powers for acts of piracy. He magnetically causes various ships to collide with rocks. He steals their supplies and cargo, allowing the crews to escape "to tell mankind the extend of my invincible might". He then destroys the remnants of the ships. He claims to labor night and day to create a device which can cure the Scarlet Witch from the loss of her powers. He is actually working on a mind-control device to conquer the world. Max expects Pietro to betray him, he is fully aware that Wanda doesn't trust him. And Toad is seriously getting on his nerves. 
*The Scarlet Witch has been depowered by a recent incident involving a bullet (from "Avengers" #49). She feels helpless and like a burden to her brother. She can't stand the thought of him leaving her. Fearing that he might abandon her for good. She doesn't trust in Magneto's "good intentions" and her every instinct tells her they should be leaving. She feels no affection for Toad either. 

*Quicksilver is feeling desperate. He has "failed his sister" by failing to protect her from the bullet. His trust for Magneto is ending. He feels disillusioned at seeing Magneto grow "more cruel" every day. He also notes that "I've seen no proof of your [Magneto's] labors." His mind wonders to the Avengers (with images of Captain America, Goliath, Hawkeye, Hercules, and the Wasp) and wonders if the could help Wanda. He mourns for Xavier who was their "only friend" and is now dead and unable to help them. 

*Toad keeps trying to get in Magneto's good graces by spying on Pietro and reporting his moves to Magneto. This earns him the ire of both men. He finds himself the main target of Magneto's harsh discipline. Tough luck for Mortimer. 

Nice to see the grim situation of the Maximoff siblings and their need for each other. These are arguably the highlights of the issue. But I think the depiction of Magneto here is rather poor. Power-wise , Max is at the top of his game. Characterization-wise, he is reverting. Back in "Avengers", Max made a show of depicting himself as a rather benevolent ruler to regain the trust of his protege. He gained some self-restraint and some acting skills in the process. Here he seems to be doing everything in his power to make every Brotherhood member hate or distrust him. If he dislikes Mortimer so much, why doesn't he simply kick the guy out? 

- The grand finale involves Magneto using his method of pirating on the ship Myrmidon (named after a tribe of ancient Thessaly). The ship reportedly a "giant new computer" which Magneto needs to complete his plans. Aboard are the X-Men, as Warren used his monthly allowance to get them passage. Scott had deduced what cargoes attracted the special attention of Magneto and figured the computer would be a prize for him. 
Iceman helps his teammates to disembark at the island. A brief fight with the Brotherhood follows. With the X-Men mostly on defense, learning it is not wise to enter the lion's den. They actually survive some direct hits that should be knockouts. But Magneto electrifies the floor and has them electrocuted in the last few panels.

Nothing too bad here But the fight could have ended sooner and some X-Men should already be out for the count. For example, Jean and Warren receive direct blows to the head. But do not fall prior to the electric attack. Why? They aren't supposed to be invulnerable. 

- The second story demonstrates the various abilities of Cyclops. Featuring brief fights with the Blob, Changeling, Tyrannus and ... the Hulk (!). There are a couple of other foes in military-style uniform, but I am not certain if these represent some kind of organization. Or were created only for this feature. Anyway, the key information of the five-pager is that:

*Cyclops draws his energy directly from the Sun. His eyes acting as solar batteries. He can exhaust his energy storage thought extensive use. It needs time to be replenished.
*His powers grow stronger with age and so does his stamina.
*He needs to open his visor to throw blasts. He can do it either manually or through pressing a button in his gloves. Thus explaining the inconsistent depiction of how the visor is activated. 

Not bad, and Thomas seems to have given some thought to the details. 

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