X-Men: The Trial of Magneto #1 begins as CSI: Krakoa and then blossoms into a goddamn operatic comic book. Leah Williams and Lucas Werneck (Plus some bombastic and beautiful colors from Edgar Delgado.) structure the issue into almost three acts. There’s X-Factor (Plus babysitters, the X-Men and X-Force) investigating the Scarlet Witch’s murder, scanning the scene of the crime with Rachel Summers’ chronoskimming and Akihiro’s senses, and an autopsy and X-Ray on her body. This is followed by Magneto being treated as the key suspect of her murder, and lots of fighting and cutting dialogue. The third act is a sad, meditative one with almost poetic captions from Williams as Scarlet Witch’s old Brotherhood of Mutants teammates share a drink together before flowing into the cliffhanger for next issue. Like a good grunge song, X-Men: The Trial of Magneto #1 has a good balance of “loud” and “soft” moments, and Werneck is game for it all drawing everything from an ornate double page spread of Wanda’s body in a verdant autopsy theater to showing Polaris’ shocked expression as she realizes someone close to her might be the murderer.
The main thing I loved about The Trial of Magneto is what a meaty read it was. Leah Williams packs those 36 pages with everything from Krakoan in-fighting to bonkers battles and characters showing off their abilities in a story relevant and finally just allowing individuals to grieve. She and Lucas Werneck take break from the “fighting Magneto/mystery solving” part of the plot to cut away to Vision mourning for his ex-wife, or Kyle comforting Speed, who stands vigil alone at his mother’s body wishing Wiccan was there to help figure things out. (He’s stuck in the current “Last Annihilation” crossover.) Williams shows great range as a writer coaxing a variety of tones from characters through her dialogue and narration with the help of letterer Clayton Cowles, who uses an all-caps font to great effect when Quicksilver becomes totally consumed by grief and rage. She has spent time developing the cast of X-Factor, and they are ready to be put in a stressful situations like where Magneto saying Polaris is “unhinged and inconsistent” hurts more than any metal claws or piece of debris. Northstar’s leadership abilities (and super speed) come into play as he is sassy towards the interfering X-Force and X-Men while saving the day and preventing Quicksilver from bludgeoning his father to death. Like a proper crossover/event miniseries, The Trial of Magneto has a large cast of characters, and they all get to shine.
Trial‘s strong characterization extends to the art where Werneck sets up some iconic panels like Laura, Logan, and Akihiro all leaping into the master of magnetism with quips and a devil-may-care attitude. I love how Wolverine doesn’t give a damn that Magneto pulled out his adamantium skeleton back in the 1990s and is just there to run interference while the next generation does the ass kicking. This bond between the claw mutants is nicely set up earlier in the comic when Laura and Logan basically finish Akihiro’s sentences as he figures out how Wanda was murdered. Edgar Delgado’s colors come in handy during the forensics sequences differentiating between the past and present using a sad red that comes back towards the end of the book where Toad, Mastermind, Blob, and Quicksilver are drinking and grieving. They’ve come a long way from the schemes and overwrought dialogue of the Silver Age and pack a real emotional punch while Leah Williams’ narration verbally captures the mood of the scene. The tiki bar has turned into a wake.
Connected to grief and emotions, The Trial of Magneto also has a lot of rage beginning with Magneto tossing his helmet to the side during a Quiet Council in an aerial panel from Werneck. He has had enough and is total unchecked id who just wants to resurrect his daughter because mutants are beyond such petty things as life and death. And getting egged on by Mystique and other members of the Quiet Council doesn’t help things. Williams’ writing for Magneto can be described as majestic and blunt as he says whatever he feels about everyone around him and fights the combined forces of X-Force, X-Factor, and X-Men featuring some big damn, wallop-packing panels. There are also some chilling panels of Krakoans celebrating her death while Magneto listlessly walks by that are probably the most disturbing scenes in a bleak comic.However, the show is almost stolen by Quicksilver, who immediately becomes this series’ beating heart and shows how much folks really cared about Wanda even though she was seen as a pariah on Krakoa.
In a truly dramatic entrance, Quicksilver arrives on the scene of The Trial of Magneto #1 almost invisibly as he startles Cyclops, and then Leah Williams and Lucas Werneck cut to the next page where Magneto’s head is being used as a punching bag with panels rocking back and forth across the page turning layout into speed lines. However, actual speed lines come into play when Northstar restrains an angry Quicksilver in a great riff on the classic speedster-on-speedster battle. Williams and Werneck know the tropes that make superhero comics so exciting and visceral and deploy them in emotionally resonant ways, which is why The Trial of Magneto #1 is such an epic read. Quicksilver also 100% lays his feelings about Wanda on the page, and Lucas Werneck draws quite a few close-ups of him crying because of his sister’s passing. He also feels guilty because he has felt responsible for her well-being since back in the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants days. (Seriously, their tender interactions are the highlight of some pretty sub-par comics, Jack Kirby art aside.) Werneck’s facial expressions do the lion’s share of showing this guilt, rage, and melancholy and even though I can’t remember the last time I saw Pietro in a Marvel comic, I want to give him a hug.
X-Men: The Trial of Magneto #1 has the melodrama, action, questionable morality, and high stakes emotions that are what make X-Men comics so great. Leah Williams, Lucas Werneck, Edgar Delgado, and Clayton Cowles craft a comic worthy of a white cape wearing anti-hero grieving his daughter (and being a little bit dodgy), who is almost beaten to death by his son. Oedipus (Re)X sans the incest bit and with more metallic manipulation.
Story: Leah Williams Art: Lucas Werneck
Colors: Edgar Delgado Letters: Clayton Cowles
Story: 8.8 Art: 8.6 Overall: 8.7 Recommendation: Buy
Marvel Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review