Welcome back X-Fans to another edition of The Mutants’ Court! As Comicon.com’s resident X-perts, Tony Thornley and I, are going to take you through the ins and outs of Marvel’s big two X-Men events!
At last, after months of speculation and anticipation, we’ve arrived at the moment when the killer of Wanda Maximoff stands revealed! All is revealed here in the fifth and final issue of X-Men: The Trial of Magneto by Leah Williams, Lucas Werneck, Edgar Delgado, and Clayton Cowles. There’s a lot to take in both in this issue and when considering the series as a whole.
Also, fair warning now, this is an in-depth discussion of the issue. That does mean there be spoilers ahead!
Scott Redmond: So after all these months we finally get to see what really happened on the night Wanda died during the Hellfire Gala and it took some turns. While Magneto took a major back seat through the middle portion of this book bearing his name, we find out that he very much was part of killing Wanda at her behest. Turns out she wanted to die so she could come back through the Krakoan resurrection in order to create the eldritch garden she was trapped within to provide a way to allow mutants to restore every mutant lost, including those lost well before Cerebro began making backup copies. While Magneto did the deed, Toad is the one that is blamed and takes the fall (right into the exile pit) seemingly at the behest of Magneto. They needed a patsy to sell the murder aspect so that their scheme would not be found out right away.
Wanda remains not a mutant and not Magneto’s biological child (something which many thought this book might retcon once more), but has redeemed herself in the eyes of Mutant kind as she opened a magical massive door to them.
This was an ending that we at least vaguely predicted (in regard to Magneto doing it to return Wanda for mutant reasons) but overall was very much not what we expected. How are you feeling about this big revelation?
Tony Thornley: Damn I enjoyed this issue. We talked early on about how Williams likes to build stories as empathy engines for misunderstood characters. Now, this title had to juggle a lot of balls. Some of those balls were on fire. Some of them belonged to other editorial offices and were on fire. But I really think she did a lot to redeem Wanda in the eyes of Krakoa (and a lot of misguided X-Men fans), and restore what was lost when Wanda and Pietro were retconned out of mutantkind.
I honestly think with the series wrapped, we’ll be able to go back and binge this series, and it will be much stronger for it.
Scott: Before we get too deep into things, let’s give some props to the artistic side of the team. This team has been doing such a solid job across the series, and it’s nice that they got to finish out the last issue fully themselves after David Messina stepped in to assist with the previous two issues. This is a talking-heavy issue as it deals with the aftermath of so many things, but they still make everything look so good. This bodes well for Werneck considering he’ll be drawing a whole ton of the Quiet Council and their area in Immortal X-Men.
Tony: Oh definitely. Werneck established himself admirably in this series, and I’m excited to see him transition onto Immortal X-Men. I’ll be watching him close.
Scott: As we mentioned various times in these columns, this very much felt like a way to redeem or return Wanda to where she was before Avengers: Disassembled took her down a broken repeating path that had a bunch of writers pin the worst on her because of her unaddressed mental health issues. Exodus declares her the “Redeemer” now instead of the “Pretender” and there seem to be some hints that we might see her on a bigger stage again, maybe her own book.
Do you think that this overall did justice to Wanda and achieved some sort of redemption for her or at least cleaned up her path?
Tony: I feel like this story, or at least something like this, has been the plan since the beginning. I mean, look at the Hickman-written portions of last year’s Empyre: X-Men and the last scene of the Gala’s S.W.O.R.D. issue. This very distinctly felt like Wanda’s path was headed to this point in some way shape or form, just like Legion’s has been since he first reappeared in ‘Way of X’.
I mean, Wanda has, at this point, been redeemed for the events of ‘House of M’ at least three times. She didn’t need that in anything but in the eyes of Krakoans who vilified her (thanks Exodus). So this seems like a really good conclusion to her pre-planned arc, even if Williams had to clearly do some cartwheels to get there.
Scott: That’s a very good point about the number of times she’s already undergone a redemption story, including the end of AVX where she helped Hope restart mutants as a whole (at least till the post-Secret Wars status quo moved them to extinction again). Fingers crossed it sticks this time.
There are a few other big moments or changes we should look at closer. Let’s start with the “Waiting Room” as Hope called it. This essentially replaces, but not necessarily, the Crucible as a way for mutants to be repowered or returned. The Crucible was a divisive thing within the books, and at times felt that way in fandom too (at least social media-wise). This seems to be an “easier” way to go about the return that is less controversial but also means that there is less need to write about it, and literally any mutant can now just waltz onto the scene. Thoughts on this change?
Tony: The Crucible has been highly problematic from the beginning and the creators knew that. It was intended to be such. This is a step to move Krakoa from the more patriarchal attitudes of the beginning to something more nurturing and based in love.
And hey, it got Thunderbird back to us.
In short, I like it.
Scott: I never actually thought I’d be all that excited about the return of Thunderbird having read the few issues with him so long after their debut, yet here we are.
Since this book bears his name and since we know he’s about to make some big changes, we should address the Magneto of it all. Having him rekindle a relationship with Wanda and accept her as his child again, seeing how broken up he was to do this, and then the lengths he went to make sure her plan worked was sure something.
Magneto has always been hit and miss for me personally, but he’s definitely had one of the stronger character arcs since the Krakoan era began. Since this was the dream he always had in a way (just more violent means to get there). This felt somewhat like a natural place for this arc to end up, as he’s very much the type that will take everything on his shoulders for the benefit of mutant-kind. What do you think?
Tony: I’m actually a bit surprised that he and Wanda didn’t tell the truth, and allowed them to be absolved. Otherwise, I wish we’d gotten MORE Magneto in the series, but I liked where he ended up.
Scott: That was a bit of a strange choice, and while Toad is a devout follower type most times, it is odd that he so willingly fell on the proverbial sword. Unless we’re going to find out that Magneto did something far worse than set him up to take the fall. More Magneto would have been very nice.
Tony: That part of it almost seemed like an editorial note too, especially with the Sabretooth series starting next month. We know Victor is going to be joined by others in the hole. So maybe they just needed to get a couple of mutants in the hole before then?
Scott: Final thoughts on this issue and the series as a whole?
Tony: This is such an interesting story that I would love to sit down and get a behind-the-scenes rundown on a few years down the road. I think that overall, it was a good story that was saddled with the baggage of catering to two different editorial groups while telling it. I wonder, unhampered, whether we might have seen a different story, but I don’t think that’s worth speculating on beyond that.
But it does make me excited to see what Williams does next in the X-Group.
Scott: Definitely in agreement here, it’s very clear that this story was one of those cases where it started as one solid idea but had to grow and become something more because of varying interests. I think this fits similarly next to X-Men/FF in wondering what might have been.
Marvel, give us some news soon on what Williams is doing next, you can make it our New Year’s gift!
Well, that’s it for The Trial of Magneto! We made it all the way through, just as the year is about to finish. We’re not done though. We’ll be kicking off 2022 with the final issue of Inferno and then it’s time to set our sights on the past, present, and future itself with the weekly X Lives of Wolverine and X Deaths of Wolverine books.