With Blue and Gold over there is a big hole left by the two series for the X-Men’s release calendar in October. To fill that hole before the release of Uncanny X-Men Marvel has decided to release a mini-series titled X-Men: Black. X-Men: Black will be a series of one-shots that focus on five different villains. To start things off Magneto will be getting the spotlight. As the most iconic X-Men villain this Magneto issue is the best choice to set the tone for the X-Men: Black series. Having legendary X-Men creator Chris Claremont write this Magneto issue is another plus for this series. Now let’s see how things go down with X-Men: Black – Magneto #1.
Writers: Chris Claremont (Magneto main story); Zac Thompson and Lonnie Nadler (Apocalypse back-up)
Artists: Dalibor Talajic (Magneto main story); Geraldo Borges (Apocalypse back-up)
Inkers: Roberto Poggi and Belardino Brado (Magneto main story)
Colorists: Dono Sanchez-Almara (Magneto main story); Rachelle Rosenberg (Apocalypse back-up)
Story Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 3 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: While drawing and reading in a cafe Magneto talks to the girl running the cafe for her parents, Kate, about why he is there. They end up connecting as Kate notices Magneto reading one of the Lord of the Rings books.
Click for full-page viewWhen Magneto hears about Kate’s mom’s dream he asks Kate what is bothering her. Kate switches the subject quickly when she notices the numbers on Magneto’s arm that show he was put in one of the Holocaust camps. Magneto confirms he was in Auschwitz. Kate mentions that her great-grandfather helped liberate one of the Holocaust camps.
A breaking news report comes on TV that reveals the government has created new installations in response to the growing mutant threat in the area.
Kate tells Magneto she thinks the government is wrong for jailing people, especially kids, who have done nothing just because they are mutants.
A couple other patrons of the cafe tell Magneto and Kate that mutants aren’t humans. Magneto disagrees. The group think Magneto is some kind of mutie-lover. Kate tells them all to stop as Magneto knows what it is like to be put in a death camp.
Magneto calms down and gives something to Kate before leaving the cafe.
Outside Magneto activates his powers in frustration. Kate sees this and asks Magneto if he is a mutant. Magneto then tells Kate that she did her parents proud and one day they may take her to the stars were he will be waiting for her. Magneto and Kate hug before Magneto walks away.
25 hours earlier on Asteroid M Magneto fights the X-Men. When Magneto crushes Colossus, Storm hits him with a massive lightning bolt. The rest of the X-Men launch simultaneous attacks but Magneto is able to kill them all with his powers.
Magneto ends his the training simulation. Nanny and Briar Raleigh tell Magneto that it was dangerous taking out the safety protocols from the simulation. Magneto states that he needs to be as prepared as possible to take on the X-Men. Nanny and Briar then show the mutant detention center that is being set up to hold mutant children. Magneto says he will deal with it himself so he can show that he is the face of the mutant resistance.
Back in the present Magneto arrives outside the mutant detention center. The officials running the facility quickly figure out he is Magneto and send out a Sentinel Squad ONE unit to deal with him.
Though initially struggling Magneto is able to take apart the Sentinel so only the person operating it is left. The woman calls Magneto a monster. Magneto thinks back to some of the women that almost died in his life. He then tells the woman that he may be a monster.
He then uses his powers to take away all of the soldiers equipment from them and states he is fighting to protect his people like they are.
Magneto opens up the camp and tells the kids that he is there to offer them sanctuary. The kids would like to go home but Magneto states that humans just seem the kids as mutants needing to be exterminated. The kids state that the country was founded on people fighting for their ideals and that it is their turn to do the same.
Magneto goes back outside and tells the soldiers that they have betrayed the ideals that made their nation as mutants aren’t enemies, they are friends, neighbors and family. Magneto tells the soldiers that if they continue to act as oppressors they will be treated the same but if they treat mutants like citizens than they will be treated with respect. Magneto lifts the camp away with a warning of what they decide to do.
With Magneto gone the Sentinel Squad ONE pilot states that Magneto is weaker as she was able to strike him and rip his helmet off. She promises next time she won’t hold back.
Sometime later Kate gets a package from Magneto. She opens it to find a picture Magneto drew of her and him on the Moon together. End of main story.
The Good: X-Men: Black Magneto is a comic that reads like Chris Claremont and Marvel’s efforts to set things right for a character that has had many ups and downs. For the large part Claremont succeeds in re-establishing Magneto’s status quo as the biggest villain in the X-Men franchise. That success translate to building blocks that the X-Men franchise can build on as Uncanny X-Men gets relaunched.
When written correctly Magneto is the most compelling and powerful villain in the Marvel Universe. Claremont quickly identifies this by first exploring Erik Lehnsherr as an artist to open X-Men: Black Magneto. The touchstone to Erik’s artistic background shows us how he is connected to the world around him. Even when Erik puts the weight of the mutant world on his shoulders as Magneto at his core he still sees the beauty in the world.
That sense of caring is something that makes his relationship with normal people even more complicated. Over the years Magneto has gained an understanding of how good and evil people can be. That complex understanding is shown well with the opening scene of X-Men: Black Magneto. In this opening scene at the cafe we get to see how Magneto can hold a simple conversation with a normal girl without giving off a terrifying aura.
At the same time, this scene at the cafe showed how Magneto has grown to be an even more complex character. In the confrontation against the mutant hating patrons Magneto showed great restraint in his actions. If this was the Magneto from the 80s and 90s those guys would not be alive after the first things they said. But due to his recent history Magneto is much more tempered how he handles these types of situations. At the same time we do see how Magneto hates that about himself now as his outburst outside the cafe showed how complex his internal struggle on how to react to things are.
This all works to explain Magneto’s initial approach to dealing with the mutant camp. At first we see him be non-confrontational and show up in normal clothing. It is not until he is attacked by the Sentinel Squad ONE unit that he actually attacks. The fact that he didn’t just bust in and take the place down perfectly sets up a interesting character stance for Magneto. Rather than actively attacking others he sees in the wrong Magneto looks to now only fight when that is the option he is given.
By putting Magneto in this position Claremont sets up an even more interesting narrative that can compliment how the X-Men deal with matters. As we’ve seen with how Cyclops, Wolverine, Jean Grey, Storm and Kitty Pryde have led the X-Men they have been very reactionary. Positioning Magneto in a similar manner makes the way he actually uses his powers during fights stand out more. In this instance we saw how Magneto used his powers to do everything but kill all the soldiers protecting the camp. If that narrative is continued it will make future actions even more interesting as it compares to what Jean Grey and Kitty Pryde do with the X-Men.
Through Magneto’s use of his powers Claremont brought up an interesting sub-plot that has been on the mind of many readers for a long time and that is Erik’s age. As someone who survived the Holocaust as a kid Magneto is now close to or over 80 years old. Even though through different Marvel science Magneto has been able to keep himself fitter than most 20 year olds there is no escaping father time. Claremont drives that point home several times in X-Men: Black Magneto, such as his struggles against the X-Men in his simulation.
Having Magneto’s age start to catch up to him adds an extra layer to what he is looking to accomplish now. With Asteroid M back in play and Magneto treating it as a sanctuary for mutants we are left to wonder what his endgame will be. Because with how Claremont characterized Magneto’s actions and age we do get hints that he is looking to accomplish something big before his life is over. If played correctly this could be the start of an intriguing narrative that could drive the X-Men comics for several years and build to a larger event.
Magneto’s clash with the mutant camp made the Sentinels an actual intriguing threat. After how often we have seen the X-Men defeat the Sentinels the machines have lost all credibility. Claremont sets things up to change that by giving the soldiers piloting the Sentinel Squad ONE unit that attacked Magneto a greater sense of confidence. Building off that confidence Claremont gave the feeling that the Sentinel Squad ONE units could be a powerful threat if the government decides to develop them over the normal Sentinels.
The Bad: Unlike the main story that puts an intriguing spin on Magneto’s normal villainous approach the same can’t be said about Apocalypse. The back-up featuring Apocalypse is just a reminder of how much the character has been spinning his wheels. Nothing about Apocalypse looking for a new body is actually different. If the X-Men writers wants to make Apocalypse latest plot something needs to be done to actually make the character look like he isn’t falling back into his same, old plans.
The thing that did bring X-Men: Black Magneto down was the artwork by Dalibor Talajic. Though it is understandable that Talajic wanted to make Magneto look like an older man it did not work because everyone looked older than what Claremont stated their appearance to being. Kate’s character is an example of that as Talajic made her look like she was the same age as Magneto. If it wasn’t for Claremont stating that she was kid we would have never known. That problem with character design extended to how at times certain characters looked like their faces were warped.
Overall: X-Men: Black Magneto was exactly what arguably the best villain in the Marvel Universe needed to bring him back to prominence. Using his knowledge and experience with the character Chris Claremont was able to position Magneto as a complex antagonist. That leads to setting the stage for what could be a long-term storyline that could take different intriguing twist along the way to Magneto’s endgame. If it wasn’t for some bad artwork and a lackluster back-up story X-Men: Black Magneto would’ve been a home run.