Saturday, January 26, 2013

Not Exactly The Welcome Wagon


Over at Comics Bronze Age, contributor Tom Kiefer was mentioning in a recent post the engineering genius of Magneto, with his design and construction of a geothermal base located a mile beneath a live volcano in Antarctica. Tom mentioned X-Men #112's nice two-page spread of the base, so I thought it might be cool for those of you who haven't seen it to have a look at it:



You have to hand it to a villain who delivers his captives to his hideout in an old carnival wagon. But the sequence here illustrates how Magneto descends to the base.  Note that it's Magneto's own power that seems to be the only way to enter or exit the base, since it's what keeps the volcano's lava at bay in order to allow safe passage.

Looking over the copy that scripter Chris Claremont writes about the installation, I was noticing that he and artist John Byrne may have gotten their wires crossed on the base's schematics--it looks to me like the base draws its power from the volcano's lava, rather than Claremont's description of it being powered by the Earth's core (the former method certainly having the advantage of saving time on construction). Then again, the copy says that this is only one of several similar installations that Magneto has around the world--and since I doubt the other bases have the luxury of being located underneath active volcanoes, this base may just be supplementing its power with the lava's heat.

While the remoteness of this location serves as a good site for this installation, locating your base underneath lava doesn't make allowances for accidents. For instance, when Magneto is severely weakened in battle with the X-Men at the base, it's all he can do to escape in one piece. The base itself isn't so lucky:



Oh, and the X-Men? Well, they don't have any members on this current team with magnetic abilities, and it looks like Phoenix's telekinetic powers only work when they damn well feel like it--so I'm afraid their situation is a little like the Titanic passengers during the ship's last minutes afloat, as they scurry for safe haven that is quickly disappearing:



Believe it or not, the X-Men survived to lick their wounds and fight another day. Magneto probably returned to "Asteroid M," another engineering marvel which also seems to depend on his own power for entry and departure. I don't know--if you're going to pull out all the stops in designing your bases, it doesn't make much sense to roll the dice when it comes to your own safety. But we may want to wait for the memory of this base's loss to fade before suggesting that to him.


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