With the upcoming X-Men: First Class movie featuring a young Magneto, I decided it was time to tackle his origin story, for behind the helm of the Master of Magnetism was, at one time, a boy. This boy experienced the Holocaust first hand, and it would shape the man he would become. Take the jump and find out if this blend of factual history, and fictional characters is worth your time.
X-Men: Magneto Testament HC
Writer: Greg Pak
Artist: Carmine Di Giandomenico
Colors: Matt Hollingsworth
Letters: Artmonkey’s Dave Lanphear & Natalie Lanphear
Covers: Marko Djurdjevic
Editor: Warren Simons
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Story Pages: 112
Cover Price: $24.99 USD(for the HC; less for Soft Cover)
Previously, in X-Men: Magneto Testament: Not much was known of Magneto’s childhood other than he survived the Holocaust, married his love Magda, had a child Anya, and attacked the villagers who prevented him from saving his child leading him down the road to become the man he is known as now. This story is about the boy who would become Magneto.
A TALE OF SORROW
Max Eisenhardt is a 9 year old Jewish boy living in Germany during the rise of the Third Reich. As hatred for the Jews rises, Max and his family try to escape the hatred. They are put through trails that will in some cases, prove fatal. Max learns first hand what evil men will inflict upon one another, and how far a person will go to survive.
This story is a gut-wrencher. I have always liked Magneto out of all of Marvel’s mutants, and this story does nothing but reinforce that love for the character. Though this tale is focused on Max, who would later take the name “Magnus” then the alias “Erik Lensherr”, and finally be known as Magneto, it is a solid emotional story.
Knowing a workable history about the state of Germany leading up to World War II is not necessarily a must, but would be helpful. The story is as accurate as can be, weaving the whole Eisenhardt family into the historical fabric that would be known as the Holocaust. Knowing that their statements, and actions, would have ramifications that they could never fathom, make this tale even more important in the overall scope of mutants.
Having seen “Schindlers List” and read Art Spiegelman’s “Maus”, I was somewhat reminded of them as I read this comic, but even still that reminder didn’t lessen the impact that this story had. As a young boy, Max proved he was better than his Aryan counterparts to impress a young Roma girl named Magda, and ended up paying the price for doing so, and then examining Max’s time at Auschwitz trading gold teeth to help those still alive, live a little longer.
IMAGES OF PAIN
The artwork provided by Carmine Di Giandomenico was something that I had to get used to. The first few pages young Max was a little off visually for me, but as I continued to read everything began to click. I will account for this by saying it was my mind getting used to the art style.
The depiction to the era was spot on both visually, and tonally. Everything from the Nazi soldiers marching through the streets, to the famished Warsaw Ghetto, to the horrors of the Crematoria at Auschwitz, all felt very genuine and raw. They struck a cord with me, one scene in particular depicted was when Max, while at Auschwitz, looked upon a room filled with nothing my eye glasses. My mind reflected on how many people were murdered to fill that room with glasses?
The colors are very somber, and it accurately reflects the mood set by the story, the art, and in the end helped enhance the impact of the tale. The original series covers are distinct, and to me, stood out when I initially saw them on the shelves. They are illustrated by Marko Djurdjevic who has done other covers for Marvel in the past, but none as strong as these covers. His work needs to be commended due to the emotive ability of these covers that resonate with the overall story.
THE VERDICT: A MUST READ
Out of all of Marvel’s Origin stories that they have told, this is in my opinion the best one yet. Yes you see Max have hints of his powers to be, being able to seek out his father’s lost silver scraps, a coin in the gutter, veering off a bullet to prevent it from striking him dead, but nothing gaudy, and inappropriate.
The story is a well written and handled by Greg Pak who in the past has been very hit and miss for me, but this is such clearly a hit, and one out the park. The art work by Carmine Di Giandomenico is a perfect fit for this story. If this tale was depicted by Alan Davis, or Brian Hitch it wouldn’t have worked. With such a brutal subject, having it depicted with life like illustrations would have been ill-suited, and would detract from the story that is being told.
For X-Men fans, even those without love for Magneto, this collection is for you. For you DC fans who never read Marvel, and don’t think they offer any good stories, this collection is for you. For those of you that would just like a good comic story that is exceptionally well written, and illustrated, this collection is for you! In closing, X-Men: Magneto Testament HC receives 5 Stars, out of 5.