Saturday, August 25, 2012
How To Talk To a Magneto Revisionist (If You Must).
Oh, I'm stepping in it now.
Myth: Magneto has seen the worst that humanity is capable of. He lost his family in the Holocaust and is trying to prevent just such a thing from happening again.
Fact: This is true, I don't disagree with it. But his methodology is monstrous. He is willing to do just that, but by any means necessary. Well, I have to ask: where is the line? He thinks this can be best accomplished by conquering humanity. As a Jew myself, I understand and appreciate the concept of "never again." But that also includes not doing it to others.
Myth: While Magneto is willing to push the genocide button as a last resort, he doesn't particularly want to.
Fact: Again, all true. But the fact that he is still willing to do it is what makes him a villain. If he really doesn't want to play that card then DON'T BE WILLING TO PLAY THAT CARD! There are plenty of other ways to get your point across. Hell there are plenty of violent ways to get your point across while being a violent revolutionary or terrorist. The IRA (as bad as they are) doesn't want to kill everyone in England, and hasn't tried. They just want the English out of Ireland.
Myth: In Magneto's ideal world, humans were still allowed to live in freedom alongside a mutant majority.
Fact: That was the House of M. But even then, while they still had "rights" in name, they were still treated as second class citizens. In the world of the House of Magnus, being a normal human was like being a black person in the deep south.
Myth: Magneto has had normal humans for friends and lovers. He still loves and cherishes his wife, Magda.
Fact: So some of Magneto's best friends are humans?
Myth: The worst atrocities Magneto ever committed were by an impostor.
Fact: Oh boy, here we go. At the time of Grant Morrison's run, that was Magneto. Marvel Editorial had no problem with it. And keep in mind, this was after Magneto's mutant nation of Genosha was destroyed and many millions of mutants lost their lives. I can easily buy that Magneto snapped, went nuts, and said "this is it, never again! If the humans want this war, I will bring it back to them!" and then proceeded to destroy New York and murder thousands of regular humans in retaliation. In the process, he became the exact thing he hated.
Sigh, the sad fact is this. There are only two directions you can go with Magneto. You can have him truly reform, or you can have him fall into darkness. When you write a character who walks that line, you can't keep that up perpetually. Something's gotta give at some point. Marvel reformed Magneto in the 80's and then brought him back to where they thought he was most marketable. The same thing happened after Grant Morrison left the book. This wasn't retconned because Marvel thought Magneto was out of character, this was retconned because they didn't want to lose their biggest franchise (at least at the time)'s most popular villain. And since the death Morrison gave him was pretty irreversible as far as comic book deaths go, it was an easy out.
And to close this all out...
Fact: Magneto is one of the all time great villains in comics. Yes, we do understand him. Yes we do feel for him. That's the way it should be with great villains. But we shouldn't use that as an excuse to white wash them. The lesson is that under the right or wrong circumstances, anyone can go this way. That there is no excuse to become a monster. That you can't make things worse and hope to make things better.