Writer: Chris Claremont
Artists: Tom Raney (p), Scott Hana (i)
Publisher: Marvel Comics
This really should have been called, “What if Prof. X and Magneto were always friends?” The mutants under their care don’t actually become X-Men until the end of the story. Until then, we see how Xavier and Magneto try to promote peaceful relations between humans and the growing mutant population. It’s not until they’re attacked by Sentinels built by Larry Trask that they see the need for a pro-mutant strike force.
Reading this made me realize how much Xavier’s life was shaped by his conflict with Magneto. Remember, Xavier brought together the X-Men to protect the world from “evil” mutants like Magneto. To that end, he created the mutant detection system Cerebro. He found and rescued Scott Summers from the orphanage run by Mr. Sinister. He located Jean Grey, Iceman, Angel, and Beast on his own. But without an enemy, Xavier never built Cerebro. He never found those mutants. Beast and Jean come to him through other means. Any mutants he finds are either given to him through government channels or reveal themselves publicly.
Like everything else he writes, Claremont seeds the story with lots of ideas and hints that could be developed into larger plotlines. There’s potential to turn this into an alternate-universe mini-series. Two writing problems are noticeable though. One, despite being a title character, Magneto has a small role in the story. After the flashback scene that shows how he joined Xavier, he’s overshadowed by Prof. X and the X-Men. Second, after introducing the story, the Watcher is not seen or heard from again. As the one who opened the story, he should have closed it.
The art is appealing, but flawed. Raney’s penciling is uneven. Well defined faces share the page with flat figures. Other times characters seem over-rendered. Action flows well, but other scenes look just plain goofy. Hana’s inks make most of it look good. The overall style is a little too loose for my taste, but others might like it.
Like the What If? specials about Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four, this ends with heroes similar to normal Marvel continuity, but with enough changes to make them unique. This would give X-Men fans plenty to think about as it shows how deeply the Xavier/Magneto rivalry has shaped the X-Men’s history.
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