Saturday, January 29, 2011

He has no right to look this good.

I'd briefly considered ordering the Age of X: Alpha book this week simply because the Magneto costume design is so beautiful looking, and I am a sucker for Magneto. Still, the initial marketing campaign was very off-putting so instead O decided to slot that money towards a Chaykin-written Magneto one-shot. It is currently in the mail, but in the meantime @#$% Yeah Magneto has started posted some of the artwork and already I'm feeling good about my purchase. Check out this splash:

That is Magneto rocking the suit and trenchcoat look after he clears customs with a stolen identity. I'm told this is set when he first gets to the US, after the falling out with Xavier. Now, if I remember my X-men timing properly means that right now Xavier is scoping out Scott so it's within the past fifteen years. Magneto was a teenager in WWII, so he's coming up on 90 right now. That gorgeous man in that picture is around 75 years old.

Not only that, there's panels of him on a date with a much younger woman. I like this, because I'm particularly enamored of Magneto in a romantic setting. My reasons for this are complicated, though.

You know those terrible romance novels where there's an infamous bad guy who is a perfect gentleman to the heroine, so she falls for him? Not really the bodice rippers, mind you, but one of those where the guy treats her like fine porcelain but engages in violent behavior against every other character. It's this weird safe fantasy in love stories where the heroine is special enough that she is immune to the man's violent tendencies or he's somehow redeemed because sexism/chivalry keeps him from acting violently towards a woman.

Magneto romance stories use that setup, but his history acknowledges how completely removed from reality this feeling of safety is. Yeah, there's people like Rogue that he ended it with a bittersweet parting (I remember one where he told his life story in pillow talk to some girl he picked up on the beach and far as I know he just left, betcha this girl in this one-shot ends up okay too) but this guy has had some very bad breakups. Magda wisely realized that someone with that much power who is prone to paranoia and fits of rage is bound to lose it and hurt a loved one (like, y'know, their son) so she left. She leaves the children because she expects him to be so mad he'll kill her and take them. It's heavily implied that Lorna's mother was killed in a plane crash caused by Magneto. He attacks Astra on sight. Hell, even that bromance he had with Xavier ended on a really sour note.

And because they've done this, they've established that he is a bad guy who does bad things even to people he loves, they have a lot of flexibility when it comes to Magneto stories. They can explore his soft side and humanize him without erasing or trivializing his violent side because Magneto is such a huge, established and well-known villain that there's no point in trying to explain away his past or sweep it under the rug. It's there, and the writer has to accept that this is Magneto and he's been a pretty awful person. In the meantime, he's had enough softening and humanizing stories by this point that they don't come off as weird or insincere. Sure Vision and the Scarlet Witch #4 was probably weird when it first came out, but by now we all know just how complex this guy is. He can be the grand world-threatening villain without losing our sympathy, and he can be the melancholy, remorseful father without losing his threatening presence.

Ultimately, this what makes him such a compelling villain. His origin and subsequent actions, all of the alternate universes where he's a good guy, all the side-switching, his love life and his attitude towards his children all mean he has our sympathy. Not only that, we can relate to him. We can see ourselves in the shoes of this guy who just randomly has all of this power and ability but has given into his rage and pessimism to end up being exactly the kind of person who caused all of his pain. We can see him as a cautionary tale, someone to pity, someone to root for and someone to fear.

And we can look at a splash page like that, of him full of hope and cheer having stolen his friend's identity and illegally entered the country, and know that he's going to become a major supervillain but still smile at how happy and roguish he is, and how great he looks in the suit.


  1. I will say that Howard Chaykin is one of the few artists who really knows how to draw a man in a suit. Magneto looks fabulous.

    I absolutely hated Guy Gardner: Collateral Damage...except for the way that he drew Guy in a suit. Which was fabulous.

  2. This isn't in continuity. It's an X-MEN FIRST CLASS movie-verse comic. This is not 616 Magneto. You'll note the details are very much at odds with Magneto's continuity. Huge contradictions. It takes place many years ago, probably in the late 50s or 1960s. The Marvel solicitations on have the official trade-dress "X-MEN FIRST CLASS" along the bottom of the comic, but for some reason left it off the actual books. The upcoming movie X-MEN first class will take place in 1962 or thereabouts. MAGNETO #1 is set in this time frame.

  3. Hi, just wanted to point out some parts of the Magda-Magneto relationship.

    1.- Magda didn´t know he had powers and neither did he, he had a fit of rage because of the murder of his first child Anya, reason because Magda abandoned him that very night.

    2.- The event with Magda pretty much leave him emotionally scarred and for a long time kept him from having a romantic relationship, the playful man present in this comic, MAGNETO #1, is actually an AU version of Magneto,like Myst said, someone who apparently did not know Magda and never married her as he traveled across Europe alone.

  4. Myst -- Oh, was wondering where this came from. Worried it was another of the horrid origins one-shorts.

    Elvira -- #1) I'm not sure where you've gotten these ideas about Magda. Are they from this particular one-shot? Because in Nights of Wundagore (Avengers 181-189, 1978), Bova describes Magda as fretting over her husband developing strange powers. And every time I've seen the flashback to Magda (Uncanny Origins: Quicksilver from 1996, Vision and the Scarlet Witch V1 #4 from 1982, Avengers: The Children's Crusade #2 last year among others), his fit of rage was towards a crowd of people who WATCHED as Anya burned to death, and it was what triggered his powers. He used them in front of her to KILL the crowd. Magda returns, witnesses the slaughter, and then runs from him.

    #2) Okay, so your odd idea about Magda (which was not in effect when the character was first introduced, when she was revealed to have been Magneto's wife, or most recently in the A:CC miniseries flashbacks) didn't come from this one-shot. I don't disagree that it scarred him for a LONG time, but he got with Lorna's mother at least 15 years prior to the formation of the X-men. Astra was during the formation of the X-men, probably around the same time as this one-shot is set in the AU. So, a couple decades at the most and as we've seen with Rogue he's still ridiculously charming when he turns it on. I wouldn't be surprised if we had more kids turn up, or memories of a romance from the 60s. He's probably a lot more playful, but I'm not going to take that as the complete absence of his first wife from the character history until I read the book myself. I'm also not going to take that as a chance that he never got with anyone between his relationships with the two mothers of his known children.

  5. Hi Ragnell

    1)I am talking about this event written by Claremont and titled "A Fire In the Night" in X-Men Classic #19 1988 firts and after retold in Magneto #0( reprint sep of 1993).Before, there were only events told from memory. In this,Magneto didn´t know he had powers until they were tiggered by observing his home being in flames and Anya inside it, Magda was about to be killed by the fire of the house too but was salved by a forcefield of Magneto, the first he used consciously. Then he tried to save Anya but was stopped by a group of soldiers that seemed to know about his powers (how?, its not stated clearly)and telling him he was a freak, he pleaded to them to let him save Anya but was too late and Anya fell from the house already dead in front of him. This tiggered his fit of rage causing him to destroy and kill almost everything around him, Magda saw this,called him a monster, and leave him, withnout either of them knowning they were going to have twins. In the scene of Nights of Wundagore Magda retold the events from memory. Chindren´s Crusade is a retold story by Magneto, he seems to have leave some details out but the story of Classic x-men is not a memory or a retelling of the night, is the event happening.(Sorry for the wall of text).

    2)In X-men Classic #12, reprint Magneto #0, there is too an story telling about the days of Magneto as a Spy, in wich he knew a woman called Isabelle, she was his doctor, but had feeligs for him too, and while he found her atrative, he never stopped thinking of Magda an the way she was afraid of him, Isabelle tried to talk him into relaxing and love again but then she was murdered by his ex-bosses from CONTROL for capturing the "wrong nazi"(he was a nazi-hunter working for CONTROL on brazil). He then decided to become Magneto and follow the path of terrorims, This was some years before Charles formed the X-men, maybe he knew polaris mother during that time and Astra is not a canon recognized ex-lover. (again, sorry for the long answer).

  6. Oh, dammit. I had a LONG answer in this one. there's 3 points, though I can hit on quick:

    1) "A Fire in the Night" is actually in #12, and it is also a story from memory by Magneto, as he's flashing back during a parallel story with a woman in his building, and his memories of Magda and Anya affect his behavior.

    2) The Isabelle story, given the age of the Nazi, was pretty clearly set in the 50s or 60s. (What that means for Xavier's timeline, I don't know. It was obviously originally meant to be set after they fell out, but Xavier is not inextricably tied to WWII... he is however well-tied to the 60s and it's not absurd he'd be in the newspaper back then.) That could be anywhere from 2 to 10 years after Magda ran off, since the earlier part of Magneto's history is like Captain America's pre-freezing history, it doesn't move forward with the elastic timeline. By a 2011 timeline, Lorna was born in the early 80s and the X-men formed in the 90s. That's a good 20-25 years after Isabelle, and as his pain from Magda was quite fresh back then I think it's overwoobifying him to suggest he couldn't touch another woman for more than two decades.

    3) The phrase "not a canon recognized ex-lover" is functionally useless here. The character showed up a few times, and we were never treated to Magneto's side of the story (except he DOES hate her with a passion not seen for other Brotherhood deserters). The only side we've been presented, hers, pretty much outright states they were involved. A writer can come along and spin her as a stalker, but that wasn't presented in Magneto's reaction. He calls her greedy, and amoral, and yes, delusional, but he doesn't elaborate on his part in their relationship. As it is, with Astra's actually testimony that he toyed with her and broke her heart, it's actually more "canonical" than Rogue and Sentry.

    And finally, 4) This does not seem like normal conversation. You seem to feel that I've said something objectively incorrect about the character here. So far, you've presented nothing that actually invalidates my points.

    I suspect there's a misunderstanding, because I never stated above that Magda knew about his powers before the night Anya died, just that seeing them in use and knowing his temper (which she would know very well) both combined to make her run. EVERYTHING that we've discussed about her supports that she left because her husband was violent and had strange powers. It's been outright stated by multiple retellings from both Magneto (including the X-men Classic flashbacks you reference, both of which are available on Marvel Digital) and Bova that both items were a factor.

    This doesn't mean he wasn't hurt, didn't mope for years, or that he's not still carrying a torch. But it also doesn't mean that he's not had a romance from time to time. This is a character with a good 70 year history to play around in, after all.

  7. 1)Yes, you are right, just checked the issue again. mixed up the date of release as I read the reprint version, my bad.

    2)Marvel moved along Xavier personal bio too, but that was after this story so he is still in the newspaper. I don´t see either where this leaves Xavier and Magnus first meething, maybe he was already working for control and keeping an eye on Gaby at the hospital?

    3) About Astra, I am one of those people that does not consider something canon unless it was outright stated in the comic of followed in an arc by subsequent writers, and that is why I can´t actually bring myself to see a Magneto/Astra relatioship as she seemed much more obssesed with it than him, he just seemed distant and withnout really knowning how to react to her. So in this istance I consider it less than canon along with the Rogue and Sentry romance?, as it seemed an arbitrary and unnecesary scene at his funeral and that I know will not be mentioned again by Mike Carey the actual main writer of Rogue. Actually Astra-Magneto dynamic make me recall his interaction with Alda Huxley from Genosha, She and him seemed to flirt from time to time but he never pursued a relationship with her given her greedy demeanor and obvious political agenda.

    4)There was a misunderstanding indeed, I just assumed that you were impliying Magda leaving him because of previous knowing of his powers and temper along with the fit of rage he had, and tought you didn´t know about the events in "A Fire in the Night",my bad, of course. As I interpreted that scene as her just moved by her fear of him given she didn´t know yet of the twins. This is a story I hope marvel retell some time because it has various gaps(IMO), ¿Who burned the house?, how could Magda know about Evolutionary?, How did Magda die?,etc. It seemed to me like a too well timed moment, the very same day Magnus begins to realise he has powers and this happens? Given Chton influence with Wanda´s birth it make me wonder.