When X-Men: The Trial of Magneto was initially announced, I admit to being a bit skeptical of the whole idea. At first glance the title makes one think it’s cherrypicking off the classic Claremont-era story. Thankfully, once you actually read Trial of Magneto #1, it’s clear that isn’t the case. Rather than a full event in its own, it’s more like this story is the final chapter of Leah Williams’ X-Factor run.
The book opens on an unfortunate note, with flashbacks to Wanda’s death in the form of Rachel’s chrono-skimming. Due to the historical violence against Romani women, it was quite unsettling to not only see Wanda’s final moments like that, but to have it described. Her being chased, bound, dragged into the bushes, and seeing her kicking until finally, she’s immobile — it was all a bit much and leans on some bad optics. It’s not that it’s incredibly gruesome like some other comic book deaths have been, but it’s certainly unsettling in its own right.
However, there is some value in the forensics of the situation being described, despite how “late-night crime show procedural” it seems.
The meat of this book lies in its star, Magneto. The sequences of Magneto with the Quiet Council are actually quite good and hinge on him disagreeing with the choices of his peers. Charles having old backups of Pietro and Wanda were an interesting way to acknowledge the twins’ past identities as mutants, and there’s an eerie similarity to House of M where the mutants are sitting around deciding whether or not Wanda gets to live just as the X-Men and Avengers had once done before. This was incredibly dehumanizing in House of M and it still feels off-putting here, though Williams’ writing seems to acknowledge that in an interesting way.
There’s a wonderful sequence where Magneto walks away from the Council meeting, dejected and angry by their choice to not resurrect Wanda, and takes a look at the world he’s created. The mutants are celebrating Wanda’s death and it feels very introspective for Magneto, who had a pivotal hand in creating this mutant nation. It’s almost as if he’s asking himself if he’s proud of what he sees. If he’s proud of what he’s created. This is one of the best sequences in the book and it very much hinges on a few philosophical ideas of the Krakoan era that Hickman and Si Spurrier have almost solely been touching on in their works. It’s nice to see these questions return like this, giving readers some food for thought to chew on.
Krakoa is at its best when writer’s lean into the unsavory elements and the Council making shady decisions is a great example of that. Trial of Magneto seems to want us to be uncomfortable with some of the decisions mutants and the Council are making regarding Wanda and that works in its favor, posing interesting questions for this era.
Pietro, fortunately, gets a spotlight in this issue as well, to mostly good results. It’s a little odd that the marketing focused so hard on people Wanda was close to being upset at her death, but none of that seemed to include Pietro, arguably the person closest to her. Of course, I can’t fault Williams or Werneck for Marvel’s marketing tactics, but his inclusion in this story was much welcomed. He has some really good moments with Magneto and showcasing his grief, putting the complicated Maximoff-Lehnsherr dynamic back in the forefront.
Lorna and Magneto, on the other hand, have a bit of an odd dynamic? The Krakoan era seems to be stressing this very familial bond between the two of them when in reality, they never really had one. Lorna’s relationship with him still feels very out of left field, but seeing her reaction to Wanda’s body and how she draws the conclusion that Erik was responsible for her murder before X-Factor said it aloud was great work on Werneck’s part.
The final pages are actually really nice, leading to a reveal we all pretty much expected, though Leah Williams writes a nice speech for the Scarlet Witch nonetheless. X-Men: The Trial of Magneto doesn’t seek to villainize Wanda, which is to the title’s strength, painting a complicated picture.
The emotional highs of this book hit right where they need to, particularly where Erik is involved. And while it’s clear that this story is a lot more complicated than it seems on the surface, the unraveling of this mystery is quite intriguing.
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