Comics

Missed Directions: Magneto Was Right

Words of the Prophets: PopMatters writer Jimmy Callaway supermans Grant Morrison's "Magneto Was Right" meme from the fictional into the factual world.

Few were as excited as I that Marvel, courtesy of writer Matt Fraction, would be bringing back into continuity that malevolent master o’ magnetism, Magneto, within the pages of The Uncanny X-Men. A fairly typically difficult adolescence has more or less rendered me one of those troubled souls who tend to root for the bad guys. And Magneto, much more a master of misanthropy than magnetism, often gives voice to my own hyperbolic curses upon mankind.

But then he comes back as a good guy. He wants to make nice. And though he is still regarded by the X-Men as being highly untrustworthy, compared to the recent aggressive national anti-mutant campaign, the one that led to the mutants creating their island “Utopia,” any trouble Magneto could cook up would at least be a change of pace. Plus, he goes and nearly kills himself bringing the outer-space-exiled Kitty Pryde back to terra firma.

So even though I am denied the traditional supervillainous rants against homo inferior, I find myself not that upset with my favorite character’s treatment thus far. This is largely due to Fraction’s continued top drawer output and the return of my beloved Shadowcat, but I think there’s more to it all than that.

Back in 2001, writer Grant Morrison turned his unique vision to the X-Men. During his tenure on New X-Men, he introduced a mutant named Xorn, a former Chinese political prisoner with a star for a brain and healing powers. Turned out, though, that Xorn was actually the then-believed dead Magneto, biding his time to strike.

And strike he did. First, taking over all of Manhattan Island, Magneto then set about getting to that whole reversing-the-magnetic-poles-of-the-Earth thing that he had been putting off. Some of Magneto’s finest moments as a raging anti-sapien orator appear in this arc, along with some most effective parallelism enacted by Morrison to show just how around the bend Magneto’s way of thinking is. Of course, the X-Men rise to defeat him, but not before Magneto kills Jean Grey.

This arc, “Planet X”, remains my personal favorite of the Morrison run, if not over all. But of course, Marvel could not leave well enough alone. Soon after Morrison left the book, it is revealed that Xorn was actually Xorn and not Magneto. The actual Magneto was alive and well, and the actual Xorn was just confused and angry. In some editorial shuck-and-jive that does not even take the first time around, the X-book editors sought to repair what they thought of as the damage Morrison had done. Apparently, this vast destruction and mass murder on Magneto’s part was just a shade too out of character for them.

Even writing those words makes me cringe. What else is the sworn enemy of all humankind supposed to do? Write a stern letter to his congressman? The short-sightedness of this editorial stance, even in light of then immediately-post-9/11 world these books were created in, should be clear to anyone with a smattering of respect for the medium.

I am not even Pollyanna enough to think the bottom line in this industry, especially where a company like Marvel is concerned, is anything other than profit. But would it not be more profitable to invest in timeless storytelling like Grant Morrison’s, the kind that will sell in reprint editions for years after, instead of taking the short money of a slapdash ret-con? Comics readers are not so stupid, nor are their creators, that at least some sort of middle ground could not have been reached on this score. But here it is nearly a decade later, still a blight on this on-going mythology.

Marvel editors: masters o' Missed Directions.


Music

Books

Film

Recent
Music

'What a Fantastic Death Abyss': David Bowie's 'Outside' at 25

David Bowie's Outside signaled the end of him as a slick pop star and his reintroduction as a ragged-edged arty agitator.

Music

Dream Folk's Wolf & Moon Awaken the Senses with "Eyes Closed" (premiere)

Berlin's Wolf & Moon are an indie folk duo with a dream pop streak. "Eyes Closed" highlights this aspect as the act create a deep sense of atmosphere and mood with the most minimal of tools.

Television

Ranking the Seasons of 'The Wire'

Years after its conclusion, The Wire continues to top best-of-TV lists. With each season's unique story arc, each viewer is likely to have favorites.

Film

Paul Reni's Silent Film 'The Man Who Laughs' Is Serious Cinema

There's so much tragedy present, so many skullduggeries afoot, and so many cruel and vindictive characters in attendance that a sad and heartbreaking ending seems to be an obvious given in Paul Reni's silent film, The Man Who Laughs.

Music

The Grahams Tell Their Daughter "Don't Give Your Heart Away" (premiere)

The Grahams' sweet-sounding "Don't Give Your Heart Away" is rooted in struggle, inspired by the couples' complicated journey leading up to their daughter's birth.

Music

Gloom Balloon Deliver an Uplifting Video for "All My Feelings For You" (premiere)

Gloom Balloon's Patrick Tape Fleming considers what making a music video during a pandemic might involve because, well, he made one. Could Fellini come up with this plot twist?

Music

Brian Cullman Gets Bluesy with "Someday Miss You" (premiere)

Brian Cullman's "Someday Miss You" taps into American roots music, carries it across the Atlantic and back for a sound that is both of the past and present.

Music

IDLES Have Some Words for Fans and Critics on 'Ultra Mono'

On their new album, Ultra Mono, IDLES tackle both the troubling world around them and the dissenters that want to bring them down.

Music

Napalm Death Return With Their Most Vital Album in Decades

Grindcore institution Napalm Death finally reconcile their experimental side with their ultra-harsh roots on Throes of Joy in the Jaws of Defeatism.

Film

NYFF: 'Notturno' Looks Passively at the Chaos in the Middle East

Gianfranco Rosi's expansive documentary, Notturno, is far too remote for its burningly immediate subject matter.

Film

What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .

Music

The Avett Brothers Go Back-to-Basics with 'The Third Gleam'

For their latest EP, The Third Gleam, the Avett Brothers leave everything behind but their songs and a couple of acoustic guitars, a bass, and a banjo.

Music

PM Picks Playlist 1: Rett Madison, Folk Devils + More

The first PopMatters Picks Playlist column features searing Americana from Rett Madison, synthpop from Everything and Everybody, the stunning electropop of Jodie Nicholson, the return of post-punk's Folk Devils, and the glammy pop of Baby FuzZ.

Books

David Lazar's 'Celeste Holm  Syndrome' Appreciates Hollywood's Unsung Character Actors

David Lazar's Celeste Holm Syndrome documents how character actor work is about scene-defining, not scene-stealing.

Music

David Lord Salutes Collaborators With "Cloud Ear" (premiere)

David Lord teams with Jeff Parker (Tortoise) and Chad Taylor (Chicago Underground) for a new collection of sweeping, frequently meditative compositions. The results are jazz for a still-distant future that's still rooted in tradition.

Music

Laraaji Takes a "Quiet Journey" (premiere +interview)

Afro Transcendentalist Laraaji prepares his second album of 2020, the meditative Moon Piano, recorded inside a Brooklyn church. The record is an example of what the artist refers to as "pulling music from the sky".

Music

Blues' Johnny Ray Daniels Sings About "Somewhere to Lay My Head" (premiere)

Johnny Ray Daniels' "Somewhere to Lay My Head" is from new compilation that's a companion to a book detailing the work of artist/musician/folklorist Freeman Vines. Vines chronicles racism and injustice via his work.

Music

The Band of Heathens Find That Life Keeps Getting 'Stranger'

The tracks on the Band of Heathens' Stranger are mostly fun, even when on serious topics, because what other choice is there? We all may have different ideas on how to deal with problems, but we are all in this together.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.