Collects: Uncanny X-Men 273-280, X-Men Annual 15, X-Factor 69-70, X-Men 1-3; material from X-Factor Annual 6, New Mutants Annual 7

Writer: Chris Claremont, Fabien Nicieza, Peter David, Jim Lee

Artists: Jim Lee, Scott Williams, Whilce Portacio, Paul Smith, and others

In this collection the rather large mutant team splits into Blue and Yellow teams and the classic X-Men (Cyclops, Marvel Girl, Iceman, Beast, and Archangel) leave X-Factor and return to being X-Men. It also includes the Muir Island Saga confrontation between the X-Men and the Shadow King. It also has the first issues of the (then) new X-Men title and Claremont’s final issue.

Right after the X-tinction Agenda, the X-Men, Cable, and New Mutants gather into to the school to think about their teams’ future. Cable suggests going after their known enemies, which there are many, and essentially waging war on them. Storm, Scott, and Jean disagree, saying that the mutants aren’t soldiers. However, before they decide on what to do next, Lila Cheney teleports a core group away to the Shi’Ar Empire. The group was the classic blue and yellow uniforms and has Storm, Gambit, Jubilee, Psylocke, Forge, Banshee and Wolverine.

Meanwhile, Rogue’s adventures in Savage Land continue. Magneto has used some machines to fix Rogue but the result was the she lost all her powers, including her own to absorb other’s minds and powers. Rogue, Magneto, and Ka-Zar are fighting against Zaladane who has stolen Polaris’ magnetic powers and seems to be even more powerful than Magneto. She has a powerful group of villains by her side, including Worm who can enslave thousands of others. Just when our intrepid trio is almost defeated, a joint UN and SHIELD squad comes to their rescue. Unfortunately, the UN squad includes Russians who hate Magneto. But Zaladane is now so powerful that Magneto can’t defeat her alone. Rogue and Magneto seem to be attracted to each other.

In the next issues, the space team fights alongside Lilandra and the Starjammers, and they’re finally reunited with Professor Xavier. However, nothing is as it seems.

When the space team returns to Earth, they’re in the fight of their lives: the final showdown against the Shadow King! The Shadow King is an enormously powerful telepath and Xavier’s arch nemesis. He also controls the Muir Island and everyone there, including Moira MacTaggart. He has corrupted them into more vile versions of themselves. Both the X-Factor and a lot of X-Men are required in order to end this vile villain. For a while, at least. They also have to fight against former allies and we finally find out what happened to poor Polaris.

Then the X-Men return to their roots: the original X-Men return and Xavier starts again to lead the team. They’re also pitted against Magneto. He’s rebuilt his old asteroid base and the world governments don’t like it. A group of mutants steal a space shuttle and attempt to get into asteroid but a group of SHIELD agents are following them. Magneto isn’t too pleased to see them but when one of the agents shoots at one of the mutants, he kills the agent in retaliation. Of course, things escalate from there. He raises the nuclear submarine he sunk years ago. The UN is starting their “Magneto Protocol” and the X-Men confront him. Magneto is justifying his actions when the X-Men team attack him. He escapes with the nukes but before that he declares Asteroid M as a sovereign state and a haven for all mutants.

Magneto has also found out that someone has tampered with his genes and blames Moira. When she confesses, after Magneto threatens to kill Xavier, Magneto forces her to temper with the X-Men’s genes and make them agreeable to his plans. Cyclops, Rogue, Beast, Gambit, Wolverine and Psylocke declare themselves followers of Magneto! Of course, the nations on Earth don’t want Asteroid M to threaten them and in the end colonel Fury asks secretly the remaining X-Men (Storm, Forge, Archangel, Jean, Colossus, Ice Man) to, essentially, take Magneto down before Asteroid M is hit by a huge plasma cannon. Of course, an epic battle ensues.

Magneto is shown here in very gray light (of course, if he was a cackling maniac, he wouldn’t be such a fascinating and enduring character): at the start of the collection he’s trying to save the planet from Zaladane’s destructive powers and muses about how he used to be very much like Zaladane when he was younger. In X-Men 1, he says that he doesn’t have a cause and he doesn’t want followers. It’s the actions of human bigots which force him to declare his asteroid a nation and then defend it. Unfortunately, he’s also used by one of his so-called Acolytes.

This was also another interesting read after Avengers vs X-Men. Scott is here still heart and soul an X-Man and he argues passionately against Cable’s more violent approach and he also clearly disagrees with Magneto’s views.

I liked this collection a lot; I love the Shi’Ar and the Starjammers. The fight against the Shadow King and Magneto are more personal than usual and they’re also clashes of ideologies as well as people.

The annuals have a storyline called “Kings of Pain” which wasn’t published here in Finland.

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