- Magneto reveals that his villainous behavior was actually an act, meant to make the X-Men better heroes.
- The issue reflects on Magneto’s origins as a one-dimensional villain and explores his transformation into a more complex character.
- Magneto struggles with justifying his past actions and admitting that playing the role of a villain was a naive move.
Warning; contains spoilers for Magneto #1!
Magneto has long been one of Marvel’s most complex character, both a deadly foe and a powerful ally to the X-Men, in Magneto #1, his newly launched solo series begins with a stunning confession about his early days – the claim that his villainous behavior was an act, a ruse to make the X-Men better.
Magneto #1 – written by J.M. DeMatteis, with art by Todd Nauck, color by Rachelle Rosenberg, and lettering by Travis Lanham – is set during the Master of Magnetism’s time as Headmaster of Xavier’s School. The issue reflects on the character’s origins as a “one-dimensional” Silver Age comic book villain, and tries to fit those early stories into the context of the character that has developed over subsequent years.
Magneto Was, In Fact, A One-Trick Villain
In Magneto #1, following a Danger Room practice session, Magneto finds Wolfsbane reading one of Professor X’s books; more specifically, she is reading a chapter on Magneto’s debut at Cape Citadel, as detailed in 1963’s X-Men #1, both the team and Magneto’s debut. She asks him how he reconciles his past with his present reality as Headmaster. At first angered, Magneto is prompted by the question to reflect on his life, from his childhood in a concentration camp to meeting Professor X. Acknowledging that he was viewed as a one-note villain, he then makes an incredible claim: it was all an act.
How Does Magneto Live With His Actions?
Magneto’s assessment of his early career in Magneto #1 is spot-on. He was, at first, a typical Silver Age villain. Magneto sought to conquer the Earth – and not much else, leading to the criticism that he was “one-dimensional.” Writer Chris Claremont gave Magneto a depth and range that made him one of comics’ most compelling villains. Claremont explored the character’s tortured childhood, writing a redemption arc that saw Magneto become Headmaster of Xavier’s School. What it means for his early behavior to have been an “act” is a question Magneto #1 asks, but does not answer. Magneto admits to himself that he still struggles with what he has done.
In any case, Wolfsbane’s question has merit: how does Magneto, who has been labeled a terrorist, who is responsible for many deaths, justify his change of heart? Magneto does not have a ready answer. His claim that his villainy was all an act, designed to make the X-Men – and possibly, all humanity – better is another indication of the difficult reconciling the various interpretations of the character. It may have been a role he took on, but whether Magneto was justified in playing that role is up for debate. In Magneto #1, Magneto admits playing the villain was a naive move, but one that did have the effect of making the X-Men better heroes.
Magneto #1 is on sale now from Marvel Comics!