X-Men: The Trial of Magneto was off to a pretty strong start with its first issue, presenting the reader with an intriguing mystery plot and gorgeous Lukas Werneck art to boot. The second issue has its high points as well (some better than the first) but for the most part, it’s hard to judge X-Men: The Trial of Magneto #2 on its own as certain elements can only truly be judged with hindsight of later issues.
The opening of The Trial of Magneto #2 is actually quite strong, featuring the X-Men trying to distract the Avengers by indulging them in pleasantries. The idea that resurrection must be kept a secret has been played up in recent months, between this issue and the last two installments of X-Men, so it’s hard not to think something big is on the horizon for resurrection. Having these plotlines pop up so naturally in other titles is the kind of world building more titles in the Krakoa era should have — it makes each story feel like it’s a part of something bigger and that it’s connected to the same world.
Leah Williams always knocks it out of the park when she writes Emma Frost, and this issue is no different. From the moment Emma steps on panel she is a show-stealer and an instant highlight of the book. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Marvel should seriously consider putting Leah on an X book with Emma at the forefront. Her interactions with the Avengers are also delightful in their own way, putting to rest any notion that Emma Frost likes the Avengers even slightly — particularly Steve and Tony. In fact, her Emma writing is so good that you almost forget this book sadly cannot be an Emma Frost one shot and is actually an entirely different event altogether. Seriously, every time she (or Kelly Thompson in Captain Marvel) gets her hands on Emma, you just know she’s about to have some of the best content she’s had in a long time — there’s just so much to love about her take on the White Queen.
Sometimes Williams’ dialogue can feel a bit clunky, and though this issue feels a lot more natural in terms of character voice than the first one, in many ways, the Avengers sometimes suffer more than anyone in that regard. A couple of them just have dialogue lines that read a bit odd though it’s nothing to write off the title on alone.
It’s great to see an artist of Werneck’s caliber get more to do with the X-Men and his art really shines in this issue. There’s such a majestic quality to how he draws Wanda (what I assume to be the real Wanda at least) and the imagery used here is just great. Additionally, his battles look spectacular, creating a real sense of a threat any time Magneto squares off against anyone.
As a side note, it’s great that he never draws Jean with that hideous Marvel Girl mask because his Jean is just stunning. If we have to suffer through her wearing the Marvel Girl outfit again, at least he gave us the grace of not having to see the ugly mask.
It’s clear The Trial of Magneto is in many ways X-Factor‘s farewell arc and the team gets some moments to shine (particularly Rachel, Lorna, and Northstar). Rachel’s mostly there to show off her powers (which are always cool to see), but Lorna and Northstar get some meatier character work done here. Since it is Magneto on trial, Williams uses the opportunity to create some good old-fashioned Lehnsherr clan drama with Lorna and Erik squaring off. There’s a cute little nod to Lorna’s schooling days where she got her PhD in geophysics, and if you’re anything like me who is a sucker for those little character nods being acknowledged, that’s a real one fun.
Kyle’s rapport with Steve is quite interesting and cute in its own way, but Kyle’s presence in this book churns a fair bit of drama in its own. This is one of those aforementioned scenes where it’s hard to judge the issue as a standalone without knowing what happens in the future — Magneto’s response to his presence can read as quite fishy. It’s clear from his interactions with Hope where she begs Erik not to let the Avengers find the body that he’s putting on somewhat of a show when he attacks the Avengers. His dialogue is a bit clouded by his own emotions (and family-related guilt) because of his fatherly concern for Wanda, but he does also attack Kyle. It’s a bit hard to tell how much of Erik’s actions here are legitimate and how much are him putting on a ruse. For that reason, it almost doesn’t seem fair to dig too much into that right now and judge this scene fully.
Similarly, the ending sequence with “Wanda” cannot be judged as a point in or against the book’s favor right now (though Mystique just watching it all go down from the bushes is great). It seems too early for a legitimate Wanda resurrection so her presence here feels fishy like Magneto’s previous actions did. On first glance, her arrival seems to just be a ruse on Charles‘ part or someone else’s just to keep the Avengers at bay. After all, Trial of Magneto #2 makes one thing clear: the X-Men are hustling at the last minute to fool the Avengers in plain sight right now. But there also seems to be hints that perhaps Magneto found a way to force Wanda’s resurrection through after all — this would certainly explain why the “Wanda” we see is so off.
“Wanda’s” dialogue is very off from even how Williams seemed to be writing her internal monologue in previous pages and it just feels too hollow to truly be her — this is surely an intentional move on Williams’ part. But even when she kisses Vision it’s hard to judge my exact feelings because there’s no way this is actually the real Wanda. Logically, every Avenger would be like “uhh you’re dating Jericho Drumm” and instantly know that isn’t the Scarlet Witch because last I checked, there was no indication the two were broken up at all — but it’s hard to include a scene like that in a point against the book’s quality when we just don’t know what it means yet fully and it feels like it’s supposed to be read as weird as it comes across.
Though, knowing how Marvel Comics pushes for MCU synergy sometimes (and the comics’ own love for better-left-dead nostalgic ships), it wouldn’t be too shocking if we were just meant to accept Wanda/Vision randomly being a thing alluded to again (even if by a fake Wanda) because the show just came out.
All in all, the first half of Trial of Magneto #2 is a lot stronger than the second half, but without all the pieces in play, it doesn’t feel fair to the creative team to completely judge some elements of the title just yet. When Trial of Magneto has its highs, they are very high — and the title’s lows can be a bit puzzling.
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