Our last installment gave us the transition of Mystique’s Brotherhood of Evil Mutants from…well, evil mutants…to a government-sponsored team called Freedom Force. Oh, and they captured Magneto. Okay, Magneto gave himself up willingly. But still, Magneto, in custody. And that’s how the 200th issue of Uncanny X-Men kicks off, with a splash page of Erik in chains, about to go on trial in Paris, and a two-page rundown of his history for the benefit of those readers unfamiliar with it. We’re then introduced to the personnel serving as the case’s prosecution and defense–Sir James Jaspers as the former and Ambassador Gabrielle Haller (with help from Professor Xavier) as the latter.
We then jump to the Fenris twins, on board their cruise ship on the Mediterranean. Re-reading these old comics for the first time in some cases as an adult, I’m wondering if Andrea and Andreas’ relationship wasn’t closer to Cersei and Jaime Lannister than to say, Lisa and Bart Simpson–especially when you have Andreas lounging in his sister’s bed and a dialogue exchange just on the Comics Code Authority side of proper. They catch the news report on Magneto’s trial and decide to crash it, in order to eliminate Magneto, Haller and Xavier. Those three were, as longtime X-Fans know, responsible for defeating the twins’ father, Baron von Strucker, in their younger days, back in Uncanny #161.
Meanwhile, in France, the New Mutants and X-Men return from their trip to Asgard in unceremonious fashion, dumped in the middle of a town by Loki’s magic. Scott visits with the Professor and they discuss his illness. Cyclops, of course, wants the X-Men to remain with Xavier, but Charles is concerned over recent news of a terrorist attack in Germany being pinned on the X-Men. Therefore, while Xavier remains in Paris to see Magneto’s trial through, he decides Cyclops will take the X-Men to investigate. While Magneto’s trial is underway, another terrorist attack, against a US military aircraft in West Germany is staged, apparently by the X-Men, and mobs begin to form, yelling for Magneto to be summarily executed. The court agrees to strike any crimes committed by Magneto before his regression to infancy by Mutant Alpha in Defenders #16.
The X-Men, laying in wait for the terrorists in Germany, eventually find their watchfulness rewarded and end up engaging a squad of armored soldiers and a tank. They defeat their adversaries, but then are accosted by the local police, who are telekinetically disarmed by Phoenix so the X-Men can make their getaway. In Paris, Xavier and Haller, outside during a recess apparently called off-camera, are assaulted by another mob, formed outside the courthouse. They are saved by the mob’s thrown fruit and hurled insults by Shadowcat, who phases them through a wall and back inside. We then cut to Alaska and a very pregnant Madelyne, who is listening to the trial on the radio–until she’s interrupted by Corsair, Cyclops’ pirate father, and Lilandra, Empress of the Shi’ar Empire. They’re looking for Xavier, and when Maddie tells them Charles is in Paris, they teleport away as quickly as they came. She’s about to phone the X-Men to let them know of their impending guests, but is stopped by childbirth contractions.
The Starjammers look for Charles, while Cyclops and Kitty determine that some of the protestors near their location are actually pro-mutant. The plot shifts, from Phoenix pinpointing the terrorists they’re looking for to Magneto, defending his actions against a Soviet submarine. Magneto admits the error of his actions, as the scene cuts to the X-Men storming a ship full of more armored soldiers. It’s pretty much a lose-lose scenario, because even though our mutants are the good guys, the scene of “X-Men attacking ship,” still authenticates the terrorist messages previously made in the X-Men’s names. Of course, it turns out the terrorist soldiers were nothing more than hired guns in the employ of Fenris, who burst onto the scene of Magneto’s trial (remember, the terrorists had been tracked to France, themselves!).
Magneto battles Strucker’s children for the lives of those around him, including those who had been calling for his blood just moments ago. Xavier enters the fight, separating the twins and cutting off their mutant powers, which rely on them having skin contact with each other. James Jaspers takes advantage of the situation, and is ready to kill Andrea Strucker with a rock before being stopped by Magneto, of all people, exercising restraint in spite of his criminal past. Xavier and Magneto start talking about how best to dispose of the Struckers, but Charles suffers what appears to be a heart attack, and Fenris takes advantage of the situation, causing a flood with their force beam powers. Corsair and Lilandra show up just in time to take Charles to the Starjammer, where Corsair’s robot doctor can care for him–and Xavier entrusts his dream, and the X-Men, to Magneto, who isn’t really sure he’s up to it. The issue ends with the local police, the X-Men and Magneto himself all about as confused as they can possibly be.
Next issue: Cyclops vs. Storm for the leadership of the X-Men!