The redemption of Magneto, Pt. 2Posted: 03/14/2013
As we left Magneto (Erik Lehnsherr), the X-Men leader Cyclops rejected his application for membership. To be fair to Cyclops (Scott Summers), decades of magnetic-related torture on his team can’t be washed off in a single apology. And Magneto, well into his 80s (with the body of a forty year-old due alien mischief and whatnot), perfectly understands the situation Cylcops is in. After all, with only 200 mutants left in the world, if Magneto plans to infiltrate Utopia and kill all the X-Men — well, you can imagine the egg on Cyclops’ face. To prove himself to Scott, Magneto has do something extraordinary.
We pick up with the finale of our story today from Uncanny X-Men #515-522, written by Matt Fraction and drawn by Greg Land. The master of magnetism sits in a trance atop a secluded cliff.
And what is he trying to accomplish?
We need to back up a year or so. In Astonishing X-Men #24 and Giant-Size Astonishing X-Men #1, both written by Joss Whedon and drawn by John Cassaday, an extraterrestial supervillain lost a battle to our mutant heroes. It happens every few issues or so, but unlike previous foes, this baddie happens to be a horribly sore loser. Like launching a doomsday weapon on the entire Earth sore loser.
Kitty Pryde, who can phase intangibly through objects, explores the inside of a giant missile to see if she can disable it, catch a nap, whatever. Unfortunately, it fires before she can escape.
Earth would be doomed, except for one little benefit of Kitty’s powers — anything she touches can become intangible as well. Even city-sized bullets.
Unfortunately, as Beast pointed out, the doomsday weapon isn’t just going to turn around. Turns out bullets usually need to hit something before they stop. Inertia or something.
With that, Kitty Pryde disappeared from the Marvel universe, riding a metal bullet into the far reaches of space. Until now.
I love Magneto. The man’s the number one comic book villain for a reason, and I don’t think he has gotten the appreciation he deserves the past decade or so. I know you’ve heard this all before, but it deserves reiteration.
Magneto’s origin story places his early years in a Nazi concentration camp, seeing firsthand the horrors of what humanity is capable of. Plus I’m biased as a Jew myself, so any badass Jewish character gets extra attention in my book (I love you Thing). As Erik’s goal to end mutant discrimination progresses, his ideals get darker and more twisted, essentially embracing the Nazi ideology of genetic superiority — just with mutants. The difference between him and Professor X is that the good professor firmly believes humanity will embrace them as equals given time and knowledge. Magneto figures instead of relying on the good graces of the masses, better to just enslave them instead of simply waiting for humanity to inevitably destroy mutantkind. Half full versus half empty. Professor X’s Martin Luther King Jr. versus Magneto’s Malcolm X. Having finally realized that maybe his methods haven’t been working, Magneto can at least protect mutantkind with his other gifts — leadership ability and an insanely strong superpower. Actually, Emma sums up Erik fairly well when comparing him to Cyclops:
Finally, the moment of redemption arrives. Kitty’s fate rests in Magneto’s purple-energy hands.
Feels good, right? The Internet best translates Magneto’s Yiddish as “There you are, precious.” Sure, unforseen complications arise from her return, but none of those are Magneto’s fault. Sadly, poor Erik has a limit to his powers, and that includes magnetically guiding magic bullets halfway across the galaxy.
Back in the day, Professor X just asked mutants to join the team; Cyclops requires far more effort and face blood. After the stunt, Magneto falls into a coma for a few months until the end of the X-Men event Second Coming. We quickly jump to New Mutants #14, written by Zeb Wells and drawn by Ibraim Roberson, Lan Medina, & Nathan Fox along with X-Men Legacy #237, written by Mike Carey and drawn by Greg Land. Magneto awakens just in time to learn that robot Nimrods are about to destroy Utopia.
And these robots learn exactly what happens when you mess with Magneto. Hint: never fight an opponent who doesn’t even take the time to put on a shirt.
As we end today, remember for that all the evil, destruction, and almost certainly future evil Magneto incites, he has not lost nor will ever lose sight of his one powerful, self-defining belief:
Character development: it’s the best part of literature. I mean, after punching.