Jeffries in X-Men: Legacy #246, Age of X Chapter 3

X-Men: Legacy 246
May 2011

The Age of X alternate reality crossover continues with Chapter Three in X-Men: Legacy where the story takes an unusual burst of awesome smack in the midpoint where most 6-part story arcs are already predictable and droning. The story line has been alternating chapters between New Mutants and X-Men: Legacy with slightly different styles of art from Steve Kurth and Clay Mann. You can tell that they tightly referenced each other’s character designs and set construction in this crossover, and they ought to be congratulated for the seamless way the six chapters flow into each other artistically. Madison Jeffries appears in a 2-page spread that not surprisingly looks extremely similar to his previous appearance in New Mutants #22.

Magneto comes to visit Jeffries’ lab in search of clues as to where Legacy (this universe’s version of Rogue) has gone, suspecting that Jeffries’ powers were borrowed recently. The lab itself looks nearly identical to the way Steve Kurth drew it, down to the detailed level of the fingertip controls on the side of the telescope. Jeffries is shown wearing the same orange T-shirt and inscrutable kneepads seen previously as well. One unfortunate omission is Matilda, the floating coffee maker robot. Likely she’s off-panel somewhere nearby because Jeffries has a steaming hot cup of coffee anyway.

Magneto first addresses Mister Jeffries as “Box”, which isn’t so unusual after we’ve seen him called that occasionally in a few of the X-books, but in this universe, Jeffries has an aversion to the name. This is likely because the cumulative detrimental effect of the Box armor on his humanity as mentioned in New Mutants #22. Later, Magneto honors the request not to use the name and calls him “Dr. Jeffries” which also isn’t so unusual because writer Mike Carey still hasn’t gotten the memo that it’s “Mister Jeffries”, not “Dr. Jeffries.” I’ll give Carey a break here though, because after all, it is an alternate universe and not so much of a stretch for the modern super-smart Jeffries to have earned a degree.

The purpose of this entire two page spread really is to turn Magneto from the benevolent but harried military leader of Fortress X into the darker complex character that we’ve been expecting. He’s not the Lover/Fighter Magneto from Age of Apocalypse, not the Monomaniacal Magneto from House of M and certainly not the Bizarrely Penitent Magneto from Uncanny X-Men in the 616 reality. No, this is the best Magneto of them all here as he suddenly grabs Jeffries’ arm mid-sentence in a surprising twist, spilling the coffee right out of the mug, openly accusing Jeffries of lying and collaborating with the fugitive Legacy/Rogue, complete with the dramatic blood-like drips of coffee down his knuckles. Pure awesome.

Mister Jeffries is taken aback by this behavior and indirectly admits his guilt as he pleads, “Habeus Corpus, Fifth… Fifth Amendment–“, references to legal protections for the accused and witnesses during a trial. Though Habeus Corpus is a legal concept common to many countries, “pleading the Fifth” is a uniquely American phrase, referring to the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution which, for those of you who were reading Alpha Flight comics instead of paying attention in Constitutional Law class, guarantees that every person has the right to not be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself. The problem here is that Mister Jeffries is Canadian, and Canadians in this situation generally don’t burst out, “Section Thirteen of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms!!”, which is a corresponding passage in the Canadian Constitution. The largely American readership of X-Men: Legacy would be left scratching their heads if Jeffries had said this, so let’s speculate that he’s familiar with U.S Constitutional Law and knows the common phrase “pleading the Fifth” and therefore appropriately responded to Magneto. Either that or Jeffries is an American (gasp!) in this reality!

Sharp-eyed readers will notice the Box armor in the background of the lab, looking very similar to the version drawn by Steve Kurth, along with an automobile in the background of the lab, likely there as detritus scooped up during the violent upheaval of New York City buildings to form Fortress X and serving as a useful source of machine parts for Jeffries. Magneto then flat-out lays down the gauntlet before Jeffries and threatens to take away the laboratory and toys which are framed as necessary for him to retain his humanity after daily uses of the Box armor. This is a fairly badass act by Magneto and Madison is visibly shaken by it, shrinking down and finally giving in.

Daily uses of the Box armor? Oh, man! That means for the past 1000 days (according to the stated time-line of this reality), he’s been suiting up every day and blasting total Age of X butt! Since we haven’t seen the Box armor in action recently (with the exception of the alt-reality House of M: Masters of Evil #3 issue), it would have been so awesome to have seen him in any of the massive battle scenes in previous Age of X issues.

It also sets up a scenario unlikely to ever be played out but is a simmering issue for Alpha Flight Collector: Bring ’em on, Magneto! Why Jeffries cowers down so low and so quickly before Magneto is a bit of a mystery to me. Push never comes to shove in this scene, as Magneto doesn’t physically threaten, but what edge does Magneto hold over Jeffries in a putative one-on-one battle? The two characters have such similar power sets, both with the ability to manipulate metal but Jeffries has the edge with his ability to make use of glass and plastic as well. Anything Magneto does with ferrous metal Jeffries ought to be able to fend off. All Jeffries has to do is send a jagged pane of glass flying across the room aimed at Magneto’s neck and the battle is over. I call it in favor of Jeffries here (not as if the author of an Alpha Flight blog would be biased toward the Alpha Flight guy or anything) because I’m really sure Magneto is in no position to out-magnetize Madison Jeffries. The only edge Magneto has here is an administrative one – as leader of Fortress X, he can reassign the lab space to be living quarters or storage space. Oooh, I’m so scared – “Don’t mess with me! I’m a bad man! I’ll fill out a form and approve it with my signature!!”

The scene ends with Magneto unrolling a sheet of paper and asking Jeffries one final question before abruptly ending. This paper seemingly comes out of nowhere, and since the scene is composed to show the back of the paper to the reader, neither the contents of its obverse nor the “final question” is revealed to the reader.

Note: we do find out both of these things in the next issue in the series, New Mutants #23, which isn’t an Alpha Flight appearance and won’t be covered in this blog except to mention that the paper is Jeffries’ floor plans for Fortress X and the “final question” pertains to a mysterious room shown in the plans. Magneto later sends Legacy/Rogue and Gambit into this room to discover its contents and ultimately the true nature of the Age of X universe.

Note: there is a second printing variant for this issue, featuring interior art by Clay Mann.

X-Men: Legacy 246 – second printing variant
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