Read or Die

Review of X-Men: The Trial of Magneto

X-Men: The Trial of Magneto by Leah Williams

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Lesson #1: Never accept a comic book recommendation from someone that jumps into a story arc you haven’t read. (I may have already stated this lesson in the past. If so, I clearly haven’t listened) When you do – no matter how well-intentioned the person’s actions – you find yourself with half the understanding you might otherwise bring to a piece.

Lesson #2: If you’ve already found an established pattern of disappointment with a character’s world, don’t expect sudden redemption in the hands of another writer. Unfortunately, the odds stack against you that you’ll miraculously find someone willing to buck the system and deliver redemption.

The disbelief started in the beginning: Scarlet Witch killed? Even without a dive into “The House of M” and its sweeping drama, I retain enough knowledge to remain skeptical. And no reader with any sense will remain engaged in a “mystery” with obvious clues. It’s dull, uninspired, and lazy. With characters credited with sweeping powers and intelligence, you’d expect better than a hackneyed plot – regardless of the motives behind it.

I wanted to appreciate the metaphor of the kaiju, but even that fell flat. The emotional tension never fulfilled its promise. Instead, the volume seemed an apologetic need to return a character to the heroes’ side. (Don’t get me wrong: I adore Scarlet Witch. But this “resurrection” is a sad tribute to the mental abuse she endures) She deserved greater turmoil and horror at the confrontation of her past – an internal and external battle worthy of her strengths and weaknesses. Not a few miserable panels held together with flimsy band-aids.

Maybe that’s the inherent problem within some of these story arcs: Handling emotional trauma is too delicate a concept. It’s much easier to throw physical conflict into the ring and move on. Never mind the potential to connect with readers seeking sympathy with fictional characters.

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