Friday, June 3, 2011
On June 3rd, 2011 the prequel, feature-length film X-Men: First Class will premiere. Since I've already shared my favorite Wolverine and X-Men stories with readers, you may be wondering, what is left to write about?
Well, in honor of the new film from 20th Century Fox, and its focus on Erik Magnus Lehnsherr, I'll be doing a list of my top ten favorite Magneto comic book stories!
10. Avengers: The Children's Crusade #1-5 (of 9)
This might be considered a cheat since the story by Allan Heinberg has yet to conclude as of this writing, but I have to say that I really enjoy Magneto's portrayal in the Children's Crusade. In the pages of the Children's Crusade, we see Magnus take a healthy interest in his "grandchildren", Wiccan and Speed.
This may very well be a slick way to ingratiate the (relatively) recently created Young Avengers characters into the hearts and minds of older readers like myself. Yet, I can't help but to be entertained by this mini-series thus far. If you like Magneto and haven't gotten around to checking this out for yourself, you should. You won't be sorry.
9. X-Men #62-63
"Now Strikes... Ka-Zar!" and "The Triumph of Magneto!"
My first exposure to this story featuring the X-Men's greatest foe was as a reprint in the pages of X-Men Classics #3. I'm sure I've made no secret of my fondness for the art of Neal Adams in the past, and these issues are no exception.
This would mark the first time readers would actually see Magneto without his famous helmet. Angel is rescued by Magneto in the Savage Land, but doesn't actually realize this is the man he's been fighting since he was a teenager. So the under-the-helmet-reveal actually leads to some interesting story twists and turns.
If you've ever wondered about the origins behind Magneto's early days in the Savage Land and how he came to create Mutates such as Amphibius, this story from Roy Thomas is the one for you.
8. X-Men #1-3
"Rubicon", "Firestorm" and "Fallout"
Chris Claremont's last X-men story after a consecutive 17 year run is a bittersweet swan song for Magneto. In many ways the serenade also applies to the author himself, who never seemed to capture the same appeal with fans when returning to the X-Men comics. The pencils in the three part finale from fan favorite artist Jim Lee doesn't hurt the presentation of "the best-selling comic book of all-time" either.
Many events end up coming full circle, such as the events played out inside the pages of Uncanny X-Men #150. Now Magnus finally comes face to face with the consequences of having sunk a Russian submarine with all hands still aboard the vessel. Although there is some sympathy for the plight of the character, it does not avoid the realization that he has become that which he hates the most.
Eventually a confrontation ensues between the X-Men and Magneto's Acolytes over their assault on Genosha . Magneto sides with his Acolytes providing them sanctuary aboard his interstellar Asteroid M base. The X-Men quickly follow after them. I've made no secret in my videos, blogs and podcasts of my equating Outer Space with coolness. So it should come as no surprise that I've always been fond of Magneto's base that is created out of an Asteroid in space.
Unfortunately for Magneto, his own Acolyte, Fabian Cortez, has pulled a Starscream. He offers Magnus a deadly poison which poses as a healing touch.
As Cortez has slowly been poisoning Magneto, he is at death's door by the time Asteroid M is on its way to exploding. Even though he and the Professor have never seen eye to eye, he manages to buy Charles and his students enough time to escape the destruction. If this was to be Magneto's final tale of woe, it would have been a good one. However, you can't keep a bad mutant down, and the X-Men's arch-enemy was soon back to cause more pain and turmoil.
7. X-Men #112-113
In "Magneto Triumphant" by Chris Claremont and John Byrne we are treated to the 2nd face-off between the All-New All-Different X-Men and the Master of Magnetism.
In the first part Magneto makes short work of the team, which much to Cyclops chagrin, are quickly defeated due to a lack of teamwork.
Of course I can't help but take glee in the insults Magneto could get away with flinging at Wolverine pre-his massive fan-aura.
In the 2nd chapter "When Falls Magneto!", we are treated to some rarely seen personal time with Magneto. He dwells on his past in Auschwitz and takes pride in his personal correspondence with Stephen Hawking all at the same time. Meanwhile, the Wolverine torture continues as Magneto's robot servant Nanny chides him for his baby spittle.
But eventually thanks to Storm's lock-picking skills, the X-Men get a 2nd shot to get their game together and hit Magneto up for a Round 2 Fight. This time the group's teamwork is enough to take Magneto aback leading to the beginning of a grudging respect for his new found foes.
6. X-Men #18
" If Iceman Should Fail- - !"
Don't let the Kirby Cover fool you as the interiors of this Stan Lee scripted issue are done by Werner Roth under the pen name of Jay Gavin.
Again, Magneto has defeated the majority of the X-Men and sent them drifting into space in a hot air balloon. Only a wounded Bobby Drake, also known as Iceman, is left to oppose the master of magnetism. Magneto having captured the parents of Iceman's fellow X-Man, Angel, is quite the amusement.
Also for anybody who questions Magneto leaving Mystique behind in X3:The Last Stand, well...they probably would like to pretend this never happened.
Iceman heroically holds off Magneto on his own until the other X-Men escape Magneto's death-trap. This issue stands out to me mainly for sentimental reasons. It was one of the oldest back issues of the X-Men that I was able to buy at a comic specialty shop. I chose #18 primarily because I recognized both Iceman and Magneto from their various appearances in Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends and the New Fantastic Four.
5. X-Men Omega: Age of Apocalypse
The Age of Apocalypse is a topsy-turvey world where everything X-Men readers were used to was turned on its head. A world when allies were enemies and the X-Men's greatest foe was their guiding light. An attempt to change history leads to Professor Charles Xavier's death. So instead of being the founder of the X-Men, it's Erik Magnus Lehnsherr, or Magneto who carries on the dream in this Apocalypse ruled time- line.
The pencils from Roger Cruz somewhat successfully "emulate" fan-favorite artist Joe Madureira's style. "Endings" also features a plot from long time X-writer, Scott Lobdell, and also features dialogue from Mark Waid, a favorite writer of mine to be sure.
Omega is the concluding chapter in an alternate time-line and as such, the stakes are much higher and exciting. Characters are getting killed left and right and who is to say who might be next?
Magneto is fighting for not only his life, but the life of his people against the tyrant Apocalypse. While Nate Grey handles Apocalypse's son Holocaust, Magneto handles the Darwinist villain himself. The pairing off is somewhat reminiscent of the climax of G.I. Joe the Movie, where primary protagonists are paired up in fights against the key antagonists of the piece. Frankly the best scene in the issue is the final showdown between Apocalypse and Magneto. Nothing says pwned like splitting your opponent in half.
4. X-Factor Annual #4
"That I Be Bound In a Nutshell" is a story back-up story from Ralph Macchio with pencils by a fan-favorite X-Men artist, John Byrne.
It's a fascinating look at a tete-a-tete between two great villains Dr. Doom and Magneto. Doom has invited Magnus to his castle in Latveria to determine if his recent turn to the side of the angels is legitimate.
A battle of wits ensues as the two bombard one another with "flashback attacks" that give the reader some personal insight into each character's tormented back story. The back-up story is a bit more intellectual then their previous encounter in Super-Villain Team Up #14 and it does not go unappreciated.
3. X-Men #274-275
"Crossroads" and "The Path Not Taken!"
Chris Claremont and Jim Lee once again provide us with an inside look into the mind of Magneto when he teams up with Lord of the Savage Land, Ka-Zar, and the X-man, Rogue, against the despot Zaladane.
Claremont toys with the prospect of a blossoming relationship between Rogue and Magneto during their time together in the Savage Land.
She manages to convince Nick Fury and the others to join Magneto in a final fight against Zaladane.
Despite any criticism's I may have of Magneto's time on the side of the X-Men, I've always been fascinated by the dual allegiance of the character since the days of Secret Wars.
While Magneto sides with Ka-Zar, Fury and Rogue against the forces of Zaladane, he makes no bones about his ultimate end game by the story's finale. The Russian Colonel who attempted to assassinate him is quickly dispatched. Zaladane, too, is not far behind, thus putting an end to the short-lived romantic and strategic alliance between Rogue and Magneto.
2. New Mutants #75
"King of the Hill!" written by Louise Simonson and penciled by John Byrne, takes place shortly after the X-Event Inferno. The New Mutants have returned to the X-Mansion, only to find it in ruins.
Magneto and his fellow Inner Circle members Sebastian Shaw, Selene, and Emma Frost arrive on site shortly after a brief skirmish between Cannonball and Sabretooth. Magneto finds his student charges to be of a rebellious nature, having discovered some of his less savory back ended dealings with Demons and Inner Circle members alike.
Seeing that the New Mutants are no longer at the beck and call of the master of magnetism, Shaw challenges Magneto for his spot as the White King of the Hellfire Club.
Eventually Magneto not only bests Shaw in combat, but convinces both the White and Black Queen to vote him out of their little country club of evil. Anointing himself as the "Grey King", the New Mutants are horrified at the under the table dealings of their former School Headmaster.
My favorite scene in this book is between Sunspot and Magneto after his fellow New Mutants are released from Magneto's makeshift metal prison. I always wished they had followed up with something more specific between Sunspot and Magneto, but alas all we ended up with was his tutelage under another evil mutant, Gideon .
1. Captain America #367
" Magnetic Repulsion"
An excellent tie-in comic that came out of the popular Acts of Vengeance storyline where Magneto encountered the original Red Skull.
Even when the Red Skull throws every dirty trick in the book Magneto's way, he will not be deterred. Along with his intended prey, he even takes the time out to clown Dr. Doom as well.
Eventually Magneto gets his man. Rather then just executing the Skull, he leaves him to rot in a room-sized sarcophagus.
Some folks might think that this tale from Mark Gruenwald and Kieron Dwyer is an odd duck of a choice for my top pick, but it is quite a cathartic experience to see Magneto deliver a richly deserved comeuppance to the Red Skull.