Once upon a time, an evil mutant became the headmaster at Professor Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters. Your Major Spoilers review of Magneto #1 from Marvel Comics awaits!
Writer: J.M. DeMatteis
Artist: Todd Nauck
Colorist: Rachelle Rosenberg
Letterer: VC’s Travis Lanham
Editor: Mark Basso
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: August 2, 2023
Previously in Magneto: MAGNETO WAS RIGHT! Magneto burst onto the scene as the most diabolical of “Evil Mutants”! But when Professor Xavier must leave the planet for life-saving treatment, Magneto inherits a new title: Teacher! With the New Mutants under his tutelage, how will these young and powerful mutants learn to take orders from… a super villain?
Especially one who tried to KILL them and their predecessors…
A FEW YEARS AGO
Back in the day (which is to say, September 24, 1985), the X-Men were thought lost in outer space, leading Charles Xavier to assemble a new class of young mutants, with a less martial focus in their studies. These underclassmen quickly went from five members to nine, and when Xavier himself left Earth behind, he left their education in the hands of his dearest, oldest friend. This issue begins with the New Mutants facing the Brother of Evil Mutants on Asteroid M, facing down the likes of Unus and The Blob, mocking their foes as they defeat them. The Brotherhood (including a few anomalous members, like Quicksilver and The Scarlet Witch) are defeated easily, only for The Beyonder to attack! He is quickly dispatched by Oblivion, as we discover that the kids are in the Danger Room, running combat exercises. Magneto arrives to give them his advice: Never mock your fellow mutants. When Wolfsbane asks him about his past as a terrorist mutant, Magneto flies off the handle, shouting at her because he doesn’t actually have an answer to her question.
And when he returns with a peace offering of junk food for the kids, he finds the entire team motionless on the floor…
I REMEMBER THIS ERA
The fight that opens this issue feels like clear flame-bait for old fans, but the execution is such that I can’t even be mad. The reveal that the anachronistic Brotherhood are all holograms makes for some good storytelling, and also allows Magneto to teach the kids much more meaningfully than he actually did back in New Mutants #35. The opening splash also shows how perfectly suited Todd Nauck’s art is to a book full of awkward teens, with a perfectly gangly Cannonball, a scrawny Wolfsbane, and the freakiest Warlock since the days of Bret Blevins. The script also takes Magneto’s Auschwitz back story and the post-2000s revelations about his history and puts them to good use, showing us a tormented master of magnetism who honestly doesn’t know what makes him any different than his first attack on the American military back in ’63. DeMatteis gives each featured character a recognizable voice and debuts a new villain with an impressive and unexpected bang.
BOTTOM LINE: ODD TIMING, GOOD COMICS
The decision to release this retro story as the Krakoa era shatters around our ears is a little bit odd, and Nauck’s adult Magnus isn’t quite as perfect as his New Mutants, but overall, Magneto #1 gets a lot of things very right, working the old “untold tales” schtick with some new twists and earning 3.5 out of 5 stars overall. I don’t know who demanded more of Magneto leading the New Mutants, but the debut (and design) of new villain Irae makes me happy they did.
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Nauck's art is perfect for the youthful New Mutants, but not quite as on-model for Magneto, while DeMatteis combines the old and the new for a different perspective on 1985.