E197: Criminal obligations, or obligations to criminals - one way or the other, (X-Men #11) -- May 1964
What do we owe to the villains?
In this episode:
Mike and Ed discuss the end of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. The X-Xen claim that Magneto and Toad have been kidnapped by an inter-dimensional being, Mastermind is dead, and Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch have retired to Eastern Europe. Are any of those things okay? Should there be an investigation into Mastermind’s death? Should there be a rescue mission to recover Magneto (and Toad)? Are super-terrorists just allowed to retire? Is that a thing? Mike and Ed have some divergent opinions. Where do you stand?
Behind the issue:
Clearly this is not the true end of Magneto. He returns in X-Men #17 (February 1966) and it is eventually revealed that he escaped from the Stranger by stealing a spaceship and returning to Earth, whereupon he immediately tried to kill all of the X-Men.
In this issue:
The X-Men detect a super-powered being of unknown origin, and seem a little nervous about it. Meanwhile, a tall man with a shock of white hair moseys through the city, walking on air and through walls - he is clearly the super-powered being and is ultimately referred to as the Stranger - until he finds Magneto and his Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. The Stranger battles Magneto and his team, overpowering him. He turns Mastermind into a solid block of matter, and then the X-Men burst in and start battling the Brotherhood too. Ultimately, the Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver confess to the X-Men that they are quitting the Brotherhood, having repaid their debt to Magneto. The Stranger then kidnaps Magneto and Toad, flying off into space with them, with the X-Men powerless to assist.
Assumed before the next episode:
People are wondering whether they are more safe, knowing that a super-powered alien can overpower Magneto and take him into space.
This episode takes place:
After the Brotherhood has been disbanded in a very unorthodox manner.
Edward: Michael, it's the end of an era. It's the end of the brotherhood of evil mutants. They are no longer a brotherhood. They're done.
Micheal: problem solved.
Edward: I'm sure there'll be other problems out there, but it is nice that one of the big super terrorists hanging over the head of our country is no longer an issue anymore. The X-Men have reported that Magni and the towed, the leader and one of the members of the brotherhood have been kidnapped, detained by some sort of alien being. And, the three remaining members, two have retired and one is apparently dead.
Micheal: So there's a bunch of stuff that comes out of it let's. The X-men at their word and say that, what'd they say? An alien took Magni and towed away
Edward: some sort of alien or interdimensional being someone who's not from here, it was you who said that. How do you define an alien? An alien is someone not from Earth? And it sounds like this guy's not from Earth.
Micheal: So let's just call him just for sake of convenience. See, this alien is taking magni and towed away, so that's okay. Fine, but. Do we just leave it at that? If say a kindly grandmother and her,
Edward: wanna hear where you're going with this,
Micheal: kidnapped by an alien, would we just be like, oh, well, aliens, you know, aliens, they just, they just kidnap people
Edward: I think. I think, well, I think, well, hey, I think there's a difference between a grandmother and a.
Micheal: But why is there, I mean, the point is like there isn't actually like
Edward: no, there's no if, if, wait a minute, you're arguing. There's no difference between a terrorist and a grand.
Micheal: But not certainly.
Edward: Who is your grandmother?
What is your grandmother like? Michael?
Micheal: I loved my grandmother's. I did, but what I'm trying to say, I'm not comparing, I'm not saying that you've gotta treat your grandmother like a terrorist, but you probably need to treat terrorists as human beings. I mean, or criminals or accused. Criminals still have the same rights as the, as the rest of us, and so,
Edward: Do they, do they do They have the same, right?
Micheal: of course they do.
Edward: Like I have the freedom of movement. I can go around and I could go to the grocery store, I can visit my mom, I can visit my grandmother. But if you're a terrorist and you committed a crime, we put you in jail. You don't have freedom of movement anymore. Let's, we take that right away.
Micheal: No right's been taken away. There's been no trial of Magni in towed. Like right now. Right now, they are men that might be accused it's been allegedly committed crimes, and if they're convicted of it, then sure, some of their civil liberties will be taken away restricted. My point is that if, the X-men come and say, don't worry guys, an alien stole these two people and took them away, what's the response like?
We're now not alone in the universe and we know that and, so we must be considering. There could be these alien abductions and we need to have a response to it. I'm sure if your grandmother was kidnapped by aliens, you'd want to have some kind of response. You'd want Reed Richards to get into a spaceship and chase down those aliens and rescue your grandma.
Edward: Absolutely. Well, lemme put an asterisk. I think that's true. Unless my grandmother was a terrorist, in which case, you know what, I'm okay. You can leave her. It's a terrorist exception. Terrorist exception to grandmother kidnapping.
Micheal: Don't think there is an exception to it.
So I'm saying that the public sympathy might not be there, but if, let's just make it more earthbound. If an accused terrorist was in a boat that caught the wrong tide and the engines out and it's going out to sea, would you expect the Coast Guard to go rescue that person?
Edward: I think so,
Micheal: yes. You would
Edward: yeah. You'd want go and capture those. You wanna capture them. I wouldn't want the Coast Guard to rescue them. You. I want them to go and capture them.
Micheal: I know, but, the law works that you actually would have to, you have an obligation to try to rescue them. I think you do have an obligation to do that. How you treat them after you re rescue them is another matter.
Edward: Yeah, I think that's right. I think that's correct. I think the difference is a little bit is. That the amount of resources and effort it would take to capture a boat floating in the ocean is a little different than the amount of resources it would take to capture an interdimensional kidnapping. There are a lot of Coast Guard people that can go and help a lot of people who get trapped in boats. Mm-hmm. I think we have to be, we have limited resources for capturing interdimensional, kidnappings. We have like what, four or five people on the planet that can do that for?
Micheal: What did Reed Richards go to space for recently? Didn't he go for some kinda personal reason, like,
Edward: well, it was semi-personal. It was, his father-in-law had been killed by the scrolls and he went and negotiated a peace treaty with the scrolls as part of that peace treaty, the person who this individual scroll, who killed his father-in-law was put to justice on the scroll home world.
Micheal: Yes. So personal. So, okay, got it. So anyways, what I'm trying to say is that I understand your point, we're not gonna bankrupt the entire Earth to save Magni, but the question has to be asked, to what extent do we actually extend ourselves with respect to not just leave inside the terrorist part, which is hard to do, but leave it from the, what is, what is the extent to which we will actually take steps to address interplanetary crime or aliens. Now we don't have to worry about just bad guys on earth doing bad things to people, but people from other dimensions or other worlds doing bad things to our people. So what's our response? And I don't know what it is yet, but right now it seems to be.
Okay. It's too bad. See, later Magnis. See later tote, you're going to another planet or another dimension or something.
Edward: So, hey, maybe the answer is, we put it onto Reed, Richards to-do list and he can prioritize it versus all the other things. If there's a bunch of grandmothers but that been kidnapped, let's get to the grandmother's first. And Magni can be somewhere further down the list and maybe somewhere on his list. Getting flying cars to the masses. And personally, I'd rather have flying cars be a common consumer purchase product than save Magni. Like, that's my own personal priority list.
Micheal: Typical, typical capitalist and socialist kinda conversation. But anyways, to move on to the next point, so let's assuming that the X-men are telling the truth, right? What if they aren't? How do we know that aren't the truth?
Edward: You and your, decept, you think not everyone's a lie. Like why would they be lying about this?
Micheal: Well, because they've been fighting because Mag's been trying to kill the X-Men. And so then they come back and say, Hey guys, uh, what?
Edward: To be fair, to be fair, Mag's been trying to kill everyone. That's not just the X-Men,
Micheal: but they've been in hand, hand combat with him and they have, so the X-Men come back and say, Hey, hey guys. Uh, yeah. So anyways, you know that guy that was trying to kill us? Yeah. He's gone. Oh. Oh, really? What happened? Ah, An alien took him away. Oh, okay. Problem solve. There's no recourse or ability to investigate to see whether they're telling the truth. The expert aren't the good guys,
Edward: but, but hold on. Even if they did, so let's, let's say they were in battle with Magni. If they told us, Hey, we were in battle with Magni and towed, and in the course of that battle they were killed. Well, that seems like a defensible position as well. They didn't need to make up this alien abduction thing. They could have just said Magda was trying to kill us with his magneto powers, and in the process we blasted him to smithereens.
Micheal: I think that if the X-Men came back and admitted to killing Magni and Toad, let's not forget about Toad admitted to killing these two people.
Everyone does, but you know, I dunno what his power is.
Edward: He's like a rounding error. Hey, to Toad was like the first public he was the first public mutant. Remember back in the day, he was the one that tried to cheat. He was cheating in the track meet. And that's how we knew about mut.
Micheal: Okay, so he's not doing so well in being a valuable member of society, I guess. But my point is that if they came back and said, we killed these two people, it is different than saying we had nothing to do with them until this disappeared. I think that there is a world of difference between how the processes that have to be followed you know what I mean? So
Edward: I don't knows happening. Yeah. They killed the world's most dangerous terrorist. I don't think people would be that upset with them. And they can be reasonable as from a self-sense point of view, because we know that Magda was trying to kill them.
So they have a self-defense. I think the, the, also, also, also, one of them is dead, right? So they, the mastermind, one of the brotherhood of evil mutants, the X-Men have reported he's dead. No one seems upset about that particularly.
Micheal: I know I'm asking questions cause I find it weird. I find it to be the weirdest thing that people are just like, oh, well, oh well, oh, well the X-men say that these people are gone or disappeared or stolen away or are dead.
Oh, well the X-men say it, these people that no one knows who they are, but you know, goodbye me. But it's okay.
Edward: But it's not that. It's not, oh, well it's, congratulations. Congratulations. You've eliminated a threat. A threat. But my point is, if they're gonna lie, why wouldn't they just. All three of them got taken away by an alien.
What would they say? Two got taken away by an alien. One was killed, and two retired to Eastern Europe.
Micheal: Super criminal Mastermind Ed. I don't know. I'm not saying they're super criminals, but look, if a police officer shot somebody in the street, the special investigations unit would be involved. Sure. And it'd be a whole process. I think there should be no different than if a mass vigilante part of a group that may be associated with the government. Kills somebody that there should be an investigation as well, and it should be public.
Edward: Yeah. Look, this is different than, this is more like a soldier kills, another soldier in combat.
And so there's no crime scene investigation when that happens.
Micheal: I'm, that's because the rules of war applied. I mean, there's been an act.
Edward: This is the war, war with this brotherhood, people.
Micheal: We aren't No, no. Right now. It's right now if there're terrorists and it's crimes that they're committing, it's not actually a war.
So I think the laws, the laws also to apply. Yet there has to be an equal application.
Edward: They're terrorism laws.
Micheal: Yeah, but those are different. It's not the same as being at war with the terrorist. That's not how it works. There's still is be, if you shot somebody. He was a terrorist.
Edward: No, no. Yeah, but it's, you can't do it after the fact. You can't just go start killing people and calling them terrorists after the fact. I'm talking about these guys are identified terrorists before the fact, and they're committing terrorism and we know that they are. We need to go and shut them down somehow.
And I think the X-Men did that. So, and it wasn't like they were, they weren't like totally brutal about it. Like two of them retired. Can we talk about that for a second? How come they retire? Talk about is is retirement from terrorism an option? Is that a thing?
Micheal: Okay. Before we get there, that's a really good question. But before I do, I just wanted to finish up this one point. Just say what you're basically saying is a toad who looks kind of like an odd guy. And he's just goes down to the grocery store, you get a bag of chips and someone sees him and says, Hey, he's a terrorist, and he shoots him.
That'd be, that'd be fine, is what you're saying.
Edward: No, that wouldn't be, that would not be, because the problem is that there'd be too many mystique identities. People be, start shooting random people and being like, I thought you were to. It's not my fault. I'm sorry.
Micheal: You're just an ugly person that seems to run fast.
Edward: He looked like a runner. That's why I shot him. Look how he jumped over that aisle. Like that was the end of him.
Micheal: Or they, or they shoot, they shoot Magni. It's like, why? It's like I saw the silver War move around him and I thought he was like, instead it was just, you know, this like tremor.
Edward: There's, yeah. So that, that to me, that's the bigger issue is not that toad is dead. It's that I don't want people using that as an excuse to go and kill track.
Micheal: Right, because you want, because you want equal, equal application of the law. That's the whole point, of having, being civilized society.
Edward: I know. All I'm saying is I'm not sad that Tow and Magnier were gone and that Mag Mastermind is dead. But can we call, can we talk about the retirement? No, neither. Can we talk about retirement now? Nevermind. So Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch apparently said, Now that we, the rest of my team is gone, we're not gonna continue in our villainous ways. We're just gonna move back to Eastern Europe and what Hang out. Like that's it. We're done. Like, is that like we're hired for terrorism. That's, we're done.
Micheal: I, another odd thing, it's like, oh, well, you know what, and I don't think they even said we see the air of our ways.
They're just kind of like, I'm done with t. My boss is dead or gone. So, uh, anyways, uh, I'm just gonna go hang out at the beach or just not be arrested. Like, like, I mean, isn't this the right time for say the Avengers or the X-Men to go over and arrest them if they have the power to do so?
Edward: Yeah. You think so?
Micheal: Most of their team's gone and then they committed crimes.
Edward: Yeah, we've had this issue before, right? Where are these people even like presentable, like quick Quicksilver is like so fast. Can you actually hold them anywhere? The Scarlet Witch apparently has witch powers is able to like, Be witch things like can we actually hold them and maybe we can't hold them.
Maybe the answer is like okay, we have two choices. We can take them at their word that they're done committing crimes and let them go do something or we can murder them. Are those the two options?
Micheal: Yeah. So we're treating them like, like what? Like an angry elephant. You know what I mean? Like, just, just stay away.
Like That's right. Antagonize the elephant. They might trample, you know, your tent, but if, uh, you know, the elephant doesn't seem to be interested in us, let them walk on by the whole pride of elephants or whatever. What's it called? It's a pack. Pack of elephants.
Edward: Pack of elephants. Herd. Is it a herd of elephant?
I don't know. I don't, these are, these are questions that people wanna know, but we had a herd of mutants a herd of evil mutants murder, a murder of mutants, a murder of mutants. And, now there are two, but apparently we've done, and look, I guess I question whether or not that's actually true and whether these two are gonna come back and cause havoc in the future.
And so I don't know what, what to do at this point. Like, I, but I think you're right. Like murdering them seems like a little overkill given the fact that they. Said that they're not gonna do any more bad things.
Micheal: So shouldn't the priority then be like, I as, you know, I don't lean towards imprisoning people, but I guess the priority should be about figuring out ways to do that, right?
Because I don't think it's consistent with my view about equal application and being equal before the law. I don't think it's a good idea for society to allow people to commit crimes and just let them walk away because they say they're done committing those crimes. I also don't think it's good for society just to murder them or let aliens kidnap them.
But I do think that maybe you could have a system in place to imprison them, keep them away, and hopefully rehabilitate them. But like you say, I don't think we have the capacity for it, just.,
Edward: that's Mike. Just, just sitting on the fence. You won't murder them and won't let them walk away.
Micheal: Classic. Keely just refuses. Refuses to kill people. Unhappy about them getting away with their crimes. What?
Edward: Can't make a decision.
Micheal: Can't make a decision.