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January 29, 2013 8:38 AM   Subscribe


 
Thank you.
posted by Faux Real at 8:40 AM on January 29, 2013


Interesting. Thanks for posting this.

The author should read The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay.
posted by zarq at 8:44 AM on January 29, 2013 [7 favorites]


I am not particularly into X-Men but this is a good read.
posted by elizardbits at 8:52 AM on January 29, 2013


I don't know why but this really affected me, I'm crying all over the place. Thank you for posting, totally a worthwhile read.
posted by windykites at 9:20 AM on January 29, 2013


I know (based on a little research right now) that any question of Magneto's Jewishness has been clarified in-universe in a way that the essay didn't make clear (not that it needed to do so) . But it speaks to her point (or at least one of them) that, though not the biggest X-Men nerd, I've read hundreds of them and loved even some that others would consider shitty because of that interest, and I'd never think Magneto wasn't Jewish.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 9:49 AM on January 29, 2013 [5 favorites]


I know (based on a little research right now) that any question of Magneto's Jewishness has been clarified in-universe in a way that the essay didn't make clear

Extensive discussion of this issue (and a list of Magneto's possible co-religionists), here.
posted by Rangeboy at 9:55 AM on January 29, 2013


I had always considered that Magneto was Jewish, and likely will continue to do so, but many of the reasons given in this article could also be reasons that he is a Gypsy.
posted by biffa at 9:55 AM on January 29, 2013


He married a Romani girl, Magda, he met at Auschwitz, and had been friends with her family before the war - his family is both Jewish and Romani, which is a pretty hard row to hoe as a survivor of the Holocaust.
posted by Slap*Happy at 10:14 AM on January 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


It always seemed to me that the whole Magneto/Xavier thing was a nod to the tension in Jewish politics between strident, militarized Zionism and European/American assimilation -- which enjoys popular identification with intellectual types like Xavier (and popular science luminaries like Einstein, etc). While saying nothing about its accuracy, the idea that some of what Israel does in its foreign policy and military strategy and tactics bespeaks the emulation of the abuser by the abused is not a new one. Genosha always seemed like a nod to the idea of Madagascar as an adoptive Jewish homeland (as in-world, mutants have no historical homeland.)
posted by snuffleupagus at 10:15 AM on January 29, 2013 [9 favorites]


Doom's a gypsy*, I wonder if they ever talk about that.

* probably not the preferred term, but certainly the Marvel comics circa whenever term.
posted by Artw at 10:16 AM on January 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


It always seemed to me that the whole Magneto/Xavier thing was a nod to the tension in Jewish politics between strident, militarized Zionism and European/American assimilation

The funny thing is that I have never, ever thought about it in quite those terms before, despite the origins of the character and his creators. I think that speaks to the power of the X-Men as universal metaphor - there's just so many things you can map onto it.
posted by Artw at 10:33 AM on January 29, 2013 [5 favorites]


They're the hawk and the dove I guess, which is pretty universal.
posted by biffa at 10:39 AM on January 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Fascinating read, I've always found Magneto to be one of the better constructed characters in the X-Men series. So many layers to him, like any human.
posted by arcticseal at 10:41 AM on January 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


So many layers to him, like any human.

I don't think he'd welcome the comparison.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 10:56 AM on January 29, 2013 [11 favorites]


Well, it's the Kirk/Picard thing. Kirk wants to go around punching things to keep his guys safe and Picard wants everyone to talk things out and live together. That Patrick Stewart played both Picard and Xavier just makes it more delicious.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 10:56 AM on January 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


Greg Pak's Magneto origin book was really, really well done.
posted by jbickers at 11:13 AM on January 29, 2013


Kirk wasn't just about punching things, he also wanted to have sex with things.
posted by Mister_A at 11:16 AM on January 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


Fascinating read, I've always found Magneto to be one of the better constructed characters in the X-Men series. So many layers to him, like any human.

I showed my wife X-Men: First Class fairly recently and she, having no background on the matter, believed that Magneto was the hero of the movie until the very last couple minutes.
posted by Jpfed at 11:30 AM on January 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


Count me in as someone who always assumed he was Jewish. I was surprised at the existence of such a controversial issue.

I enjoyed the flip side of the alternative universe (the "Age of Apocalypse") series of comics which basically flipped Magneto into the role of Charles Xavier.
posted by Atreides at 11:37 AM on January 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Mister_A: Kirk wasn't just about punching things, he also wanted to have sex with things.
Either way, he'd hit it.
posted by IAmBroom at 12:00 PM on January 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


Count me in as someone who always assumed he was Jewish. I was surprised at the existence of such a controversial issue.

For anyone wondering, as MCMikeNamara says above there isn't a controversy anymore. The above-linked Magneto: Testament miniseries definitively shows Magneto to be a Jew. I can't tell when this article was written but it seems to be more than a decade old since it doesn't reference that 2009 miniseries and Magneto hasn't ruled Genosha since it was destroyed in 2001.

Well, it's the Kirk/Picard thing. Kirk wants to go around punching things to keep his guys safe and Picard wants everyone to talk things out and live together.

I don't think this is accurate. Magneto isn't just a "man of action"; his experiences in the camps have led him to believe that that is the true face of humanity. That is what humanity does to those that are different, and all of Xavier's hope and faith and outreach efforts will never change this basic truth of the world. So he feels that for mutants to be truly safe and free, they must take any measure necessary before humanity's true nature rears its ugly head and begins the slaughter.

This is what separates him from characters like Apocalypse. He's not a mutant supremacist (though the essay author is right that that's how he was first depicted). He doesn't necessarily want to kill or enslave all humans; he is just willing to take very harsh measures, even violent ones, to keep mutants safe.
posted by Sangermaine at 12:02 PM on January 29, 2013 [5 favorites]


Doom's a gypsy*, I wonder if they ever talk about that.

Was Doom alive during WWII? Have they ever addressed this?

Magneto causes a lot of complications for the roving timeline of Marvel comics. It's not too hard to update the Punisher's or Tony Stark's origin from the Vietnam to the Afghanistan war. They just need to be a part of the last war, whatever that is. But Magneto needs to be a survivor, which is going to make him impossibly long-lived. They already youthified him once.
posted by painquale at 12:13 PM on January 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


Why have Dr Doom and the Sub-Mariner never got together? One has armour, the other just his undies. One has a dungeon, the other can hold his breath for a long time. It seems so obvious. But Grant Morrison or Garth Ennis?
posted by biffa at 12:34 PM on January 29, 2013


Was Doom alive during WWII? Have they ever addressed this?

Yes, kind of. The man who ruled Latveria before Doom made a deal with Baron Von Strucker to work with him in exchange for not being conquered by the Nazis. Doom was either not born yet or was a very young child at the time.
posted by Sangermaine at 12:38 PM on January 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


This is indeed a great article.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 12:54 PM on January 29, 2013


While saying nothing about its accuracy, the idea that some of what Israel does in its foreign policy and military strategy and tactics bespeaks the emulation of the abuser by the abused is not a new one.

Yeah. I always thought Magneto-as-mutant-terrorist, specifically, paralleled organizations like Lehi and Irgun.

Why have Dr Doom and the Sub-Mariner never got together? One has armour, the other just his undies. One has a dungeon, the other can hold his breath for a long time. It seems so obvious. But Grant Morrison or Garth Ennis?

You mean like this? Or romantically?

Anyway, I think Magneto works best Jewish; it helps differentiate him from Dr. Doom. It's also interesting to me that probably the two biggest super-villians in the Marvel universe totally hate Nazis.

Now, if you really, want to get into complicated Jewish identity issues among Marvel superheroes, I give you: Moon Knight. A soldier of fortune left to die in the desert, given a second chance by the Egyptian god of Justice/Vengeance. Notably, he was estranged from his father, a rabbi.
posted by Amanojaku at 1:00 PM on January 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


Magneto causes a lot of complications for the roving timeline of Marvel comics.

Oddly enough, Rob Liefield (NOT HIM!) has a way out - a subset of mutants are immortal. It was a kind of cool way to address people coming back and Cable not being dead, but then being Liefeld, he TOOK IT TO THE LIMIT and made it so you could kill them and steal their power by cutting off their head in combat, just like the other franchise Marvel totally doesn't have a license for.

But, no, seriously, "My mutant power doesn't allow me to age at the rate of normal humans" would kind of be a cool twist, and fuel the resentment and distrust normal humans have of them, and Magneto's age and fear of losing those close to him is another motivation to cut himself off from humanity.
posted by Slap*Happy at 1:07 PM on January 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


It's also interesting to me that probably the two biggest super-villians in the Marvel universe totally hate Nazis.

It predates the Marvel name, but I'd totally say Captain America punching out Hitler on the first Captain America cover is the inception point for everything Marvel is about.
posted by Artw at 1:09 PM on January 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


(Also no one ever wants to humanize the Red Skull, because he's a fucking Nazi, so consequently he's far less interesting than either of those two.)
posted by Artw at 1:12 PM on January 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


But, no, seriously, "My mutant power doesn't allow me to age at the rate of normal humans" would kind of be a cool twist,

You mean Wolverine, Deadpool, or anyone with a healing factor?

(Also no one ever wants to humanize the Red Skull, because he's a fucking Nazi, so consequently he's far less interesting than either of those two.)

Magneto is not a fan of the Red Skull.
posted by Sangermaine at 1:20 PM on January 29, 2013 [5 favorites]


Magneto: Testament miniseries definitively shows Magneto to be a Jew.

While I thought as much prior to this series, which I enjoyed when it came out, its publication helped confuse the existence of any such controversy. My reaction was, "Didn't they read that mini-series?"

Someone needs to create a website which lists all comic book villains and then point out and explain why/how some were chosen to be humanized or given greater depth to their machinations.
posted by Atreides at 1:34 PM on January 29, 2013


Why have Dr Doom and the Sub-Mariner never got together?

You mean like in 1962? The sixth issue of Fantastic Four? In the very first villain team-up to appear in Marvel Comics?
posted by straight at 1:56 PM on January 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


Damn, straight! Damn straight!
posted by Mister_A at 2:08 PM on January 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's also interesting to me that probably the two biggest super-villians in the Marvel universe totally hate Nazis.

Magneto is not a fan of the Red Skull.


While it was nice that Acts of Vengeance tried to do something with the idea of Magneto hating the Red Skull, I thought it was stupid that even (spoilers!) Loki could get them to sit down together in the first place.

I can't think of any of the X-Men or other superheroes that Magneto has more reason to hate than the Red Skull. And I definitely can't see Doom even bothering to send a Doombot to hear out a scheme offering to get a Nazi to fight Richards for him ("As if anyone but Doom could possibly defeat Richards!")
posted by straight at 2:09 PM on January 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'd love to see an article like this about the movies. I was stunned when the first scene of a superhero flick took place in a death camp, and they kept it up all through First Class.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 2:13 PM on January 29, 2013


I'd love to see an article like this about the movies.

Not sure if it's quite what you want, but some related issues are considered in Abigail Nussbaum's review of X-Men: First Class, and in the comments on it.

(Nussbaum previously.)
posted by stebulus at 2:38 PM on January 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Magneto is not a fan of the Red Skull.

I don't entirely buy that Magneto wouldn't just kill him, TBH, and let someone else worry about the being-better-than nonsense. But, you know, COMICS!
posted by Artw at 2:56 PM on January 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Best post title of 2013!
posted by sneebler at 5:05 PM on January 29, 2013


I know this is a bit to the side, movies having distinct canon and all, but Singer showed a child Magneto in the camps with a big yellow star, iirc. Maybe I conflate or something, but, uh, I did not think this was news.

Also Art, if you haven't, you *must* read Kavalier and Klay. Really, like, MUST. American comics reflect their origin just as a superhero or villain reflects his or hers.
posted by mwhybark at 7:03 PM on January 29, 2013


I love that book. Also worth checking out is Whatever Happened To The Men of Tommorow? -which is basically the same story in non-fic and even crazier.
posted by Artw at 7:06 PM on January 29, 2013


There's another great nonfic, um, Men of Steel? Seigel and Shuster. I read K&K and then the nonfic and then went back and alternated to get a clearer picture of just what kind of fucking genius Chabon really is. He's the huge kind.
posted by mwhybark at 7:12 PM on January 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


or maybe we are referring to the same book, on reflection.
posted by mwhybark at 7:14 PM on January 29, 2013


Here's Men of Tomorrow. I think we are referring to the same book.

Upcoming bio of S&S.

AND!

From Krakow to Krypton: Jews and Comic Books, Arie Kaplan, with a foreword by dear ol' Harvey Pekar.
posted by mwhybark at 7:19 PM on January 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


(SPOILERS) Since we've mentioned the Red Skull, I'd like to take the opportunity to register my disapproval of the gratuitous shots of Xavier's open brainless skull in Uncanny Avengers. Please, comics, the '90s were two decades ago. We don't need to go back to grimtown so soon.
posted by middleclasstool at 7:58 PM on January 29, 2013


That's not gory grimtown, that's B-movie schlock! The Red Skull stealing Charles Xavier's brain is the most Silver Age that the MU has been for a while, and I love it.
posted by painquale at 8:33 PM on January 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


Using Xavier's brain to turn people into mutant-hating Nazis: I don't think you could get on Magneto's bad side any more than that. I guess he'll enter into that story.
posted by painquale at 8:41 PM on January 29, 2013


Also Art, if you haven't, you *must* read Kavalier and Klay.

Not just Art. I'll wager anyone bothering to read this thread would love that book.
posted by straight at 7:42 AM on January 30, 2013


Magneto is not a fan of the Red Skull.

And Doom is not a fan of Dracula.
posted by Amanojaku at 11:19 AM on January 30, 2013


That's not gory grimtown, that's B-movie schlock!

The idea, yes, and certainly the larger story. My issue is the visual execution, which is a bit blunt for my taste. The idea I love, precisely for that silver-ageyness. But there were a couple of panels there I winced at.
posted by middleclasstool at 11:31 AM on January 30, 2013


Magneto is not a fan of the Red Skull.

And Doom is not a fan of Dracula.


Fucking Moon racists.
posted by Artw at 12:13 PM on January 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


It always seemed to me that the whole Magneto/Xavier thing was a nod to the tension in Jewish politics between strident, militarized Zionism and European/American assimilation

Ben Grimm.
Magneto is the "counter fanaticism with greater fanaticism" position in the Israeli military psyche.
Grimm is the gut it out, fight way above your weight class, never go down, tenacity end.
posted by Smedleyman at 12:27 PM on January 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


The Awl apparently really liked this thread.
posted by leesh at 1:10 PM on January 30, 2013


People from The Awl, you should read The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay.
posted by Artw at 2:52 PM on January 30, 2013


(Also Men of Tommorow and, I dunno, Marvel: The Untold Story. We are are pretty serious about our reading lists here.)
posted by Artw at 2:56 PM on January 30, 2013


Magneto is the only Marvel "villain" that comes even close to the awesomeness (for lack of a better word) of a good Batman villain, and one of the only ones who can hold his own in small personal stories as well as globe- (and multiverse-) spanning events.*

Like Mystique and Sabretooth can get deep but they're never going to destroy the world (without drastic left-field character changes or wacky team-ups) and Galactus is never going to have a tense moment with his estranged daughter. Ive enjoyed the twists and turns of Magneto's quest and I was hooked from the first appearance I saw of him recalling the camps.

*I'm saying this as a lifelong X-Men fanboy. Maybe I would feel different if I didn't think Thor and so many of the Avengers were just extra silly an inconsequential. Spider-Man has a great rogues gallery of dudes whose temperament is the result of some Mr. Freeze-like tragedy but still, most of em would be 2nd tier characters in Gotham.
posted by elr at 3:15 PM on January 30, 2013


That's interesting. I actually don't think Batman's villains make for good world-destroying, globe-spanning events (other than Ra's). It always felt weird when Morrison pit the Joker against the whole JLA in space. Batman's villains should fight Batman in Gotham, and that's that.

So yeah, Magneto is a good pick for most versatile villain. Chris Sims makes the case for Doctor Doom here. (And as someone in the comments mentions, he misses the fact that Doombots let you do pretty much anything with the character. Need the Doctor to be beaten by Squirrel Girl or act out of character somewhat? Need to rewrite some past continuity? Turns out it was a malfunctioning Doombot!) But I think you present a pretty compelling case for Magneto. It's hard to write a quiet, personal von Doom story.
posted by painquale at 5:22 PM on January 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


Brubaker wrote a fairly quiet, personal doom story that had Doom telling his life history to a journalist. SPOILERS: Doombot.
posted by Artw at 7:28 PM on January 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


The more I read Brubaker, the more I love him. Rapidly becoming one of my favorite writers.
posted by middleclasstool at 7:13 AM on January 31, 2013


I'm an idiot!

I didn't mention this upthread for that reason.

In 2002, I had a reporting gig for Cinescape which involved a set visit on X2 in Vancouver. It wasn't anything super special in the superset of film journalism and set visits. But it merits mention because the shooting schedule for that day involved Rebecca Romijn and Ian McKellen, both of whom made a point of coming over to see who the new guy was and introducing themselves while in costume.

I must confess in all honesty that Ms. Romijn's costume, or more accurately the lack thereof, is the most forceful memory of the moment, the spectacular facts of her biology shortcircuiting my ability to speak for a moment. But still: I looked Magneto in the eye and shook his hand.
posted by mwhybark at 9:18 PM on January 31, 2013 [5 favorites]


Well now I have to kill you and eat your heart so that I may absorb your power.
posted by middleclasstool at 7:22 AM on February 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


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