In this issue, Magneto is in Hong Kong investigating the disappearance of mutants there. He uncovers a ring of people who kidnap mutants and force them to participate in gladiatorial fights to the death while humans cheer and place bets. He also discovers that these individuals are using advanced anti-mutant technology and harvesting mutant cells to inject into humans who seek to enhance their abilities. It is a fairly dark and violent issue.
There is a section of this comic that I found particularly interesting. As Magneto is in the pit getting ready to fight, he is contemplating the nature of adaptation and how it affects an individual’s personal development.
It is a common misconception among humans… and even among many mutants… that we are defined by our powers. Mutation, though, is adaptation. I was born with the power to shape metal. But I was forged into the man I am today. It is my conviction… not my abilities… that makes me who I am.
I have always felt that a person’s determination and perseverance is what actually allows one to achieve success. I have seen plenty of people who are talented fail because they lack the drive or the confidence needed to reach their goals. That said, one cannot deny the impact that innate abilities and environmental conditions have on a person’s development. As I see the effects of climate change manifesting in the world and I envision how humanity must ultimately evolve in order to adapt, I wonder what it is that will enable some people to survive while others perish. I don’t have the answer to this, but there is one thing of which I feel fairly certain, that the abilities which will allow our species to survive the impending global changes will not the same as the ones that have allowed us to dominate the evolutionary scale for so long. I suspect that we will soon witness, first hand, Darwin’s theory played out.
This issue continues where Issue #5 left off. Magneto is tracking down the Marauders, who were responsible for brutal assaults on mutants. It is made known that the individuals who make up the Marauders are genetic replicas, so when one dies, that Marauder is replaced by another. The issue concludes with the implication that Magneto has a plan to reprogram a group of inactive Marauders to do his bidding.
There is a great passage in this issue that addresses collective memory and how media overload has impacted it.
What the Marauders did all those years ago… is almost forgotten now… a dozen other, more terrible tragedies jockeying for room in the collective memories of those who might have cared.
I find this a powerful critique on our society. In the information age, we are fed a continuous stream of news, data, information, opinions, ideas, and so forth. While the nerd in me finds this exciting, I am not a fool and therefore recognize the downside, which is that there is too much information for people to digest adequately. Out of necessity, we must forget past events to make room in our minds for the new, which never ceases to demand our attention. We have 24-hour news stations constantly pushing stories at us, forcing us to stay focused on what they deem to be the important news story of the moment.
I have gotten rid of cable TV and hence stopped the pseudo-news stream which bombards most individuals. Still, I read the news everyday online, which means I am exposed to a lot of news stories. But at least I can take it in digestible doses so as to prevent overload. Hopefully, this will allow me to maintain a memory of important historical events, because in my opinion, history is important.
This issue begins with Magneto hiding out in a small town in New York. As he walks back from purchasing items from the store, he contemplates what it is like to be ordinary, to spend your days engaged in ordinary and mundane activities.
I can see how “ordinary people” fall so easily into ruts. There’s comfort in the mundane. Catching a quick breakfast at the local diner. Although the eggs were a little too runny for my taste. Buying groceries. Apple, crackers, granola bars—staples that weather the road. Razors too. I’ve found I now dislike the feeling of stubble upon my head. If I were someone else… if I were ordinary… I might find security in the day-to-day grind. But I am not ordinary.
He then has an encounter with a woman named Briar Raleigh who wears a leg brace. Briar convinces Magneto that she can help him in his quest to defend mutants. She offers him information on S.H.I.E.L.D. task force agents, as well as information on the Marauders, a group “responsible for one of the most vicious mutant hate crimes ever.” Magneto appears interested and accepts her offer; at least, that is how it seems.
The issue ends with uncertainty, though. It is revealed that Briar’s leg was crushed during one of Magneto’s assaults. We are left unsure what the motives of each person are. The story is to be continued. Expect my review of the subsequent installment soon.
While this issue is less interesting for me than Issue #3, it is still good and serves to move the story forward. Essentially, Magneto is remembering his fight against the self-righteous “Purifiers” who sought to do God’s work by purifying the world of mutants, who they viewed as the offspring of the Devil.
Magneto draws upon his memory to give him strength to face his impending challenges.
I remind myself… while nature might strengthen my spirit… it is just as vital to my efforts to strengthen my mettle…to sharpen the weapons I need.
The weapons he refers to are his resolve, commitment, and perseverance. He feels alone, like he is the only one fighting to protect his kind. And while it would be easy to give up, he knows he must forge on, and it is the memory of those who have died before him that spurs him forward.
It’s strange. Earlier today I was talking about how difficult it is to continue fighting for a cause which seems insurmountable. After years of trying with few or no positive results, how can one continue the struggle? One begins to feel like Sisyphus. As I think about Magneto in this issue, I see him as undertaking a Sisyphean task, as yet another incarnation of the archetype of the one who struggles on, regardless of the outcome.
It took me a little while to acquire a copy of this comic, because it kept selling out. I finally was able to get a second printing of the issue, and it was worth the wait.
Magneto is such a complex character, which makes him so much more interesting than most of the other X-Men characters (yes, I’m looking at you, Wolverine). It’s the depth of his character and the nuances of his personality that I find so fascinating.
In this issue, Magneto visits a tent city to find clues to who is abducting people and turning them into Omega Sentinels, which then hunt down and kill mutants. I lived in Miami during the time of the tent city there, and Magneto’s observations as he walks among the tents brought those memories back to me.
Dozens of haphazard structures standing close together in hopes of faking a community. A tent city for people who don’t have anything else. Men, women, children. Families. Abandoned by society. Forgotten unless someone actually bothers to pay attention. And if that happens, they’ll be routed. Or worse.
This issue also includes some great flashbacks to Magneto’s childhood living in the Warsaw ghetto under the Nazi occupation. His experiences under Nazi oppression directly impact his development as an adult. Events, particularly traumatic ones, affect the courses of our personal paths in life. There is a question about whether hardships server to teach you life lessons, or whether they end up eating away your insides. At the end of the issue, Magneto concedes that for him, it is both.
But bad times teach you lessons, and they eat you alive, just as hopelessness can crush your spirit, and turn you into a monster.
The first Saturday of May is Free Comic Day, so I made point of stopping by Comic Envy, my favorite local comic store. It was a very festive occasion with lots of people engaging in cosplay and enough comic fans to jam the store. The only disappointment is that my daughter was sick and unable to accompany me, but the folks working at the store remembered her and allowed me to pick out a stack of comics to bring home for her. That kind of treatment is why I love supporting small, local, independent businesses.
So as you can see from my photo, I got a nice stack of comics (some free; some I purchased). I made myself a cup of coffee and sat outside on the back patio and read a couple. The first one that I read was Magneto #1. This was on my list of comics that I wanted to read so when I saw it there, I added it to my purchase stack. The comic definitely met my expectations. It’s well-written and the storyline is intricate. What I love about Magneto is that he is both hero and villain. He is one of those unique characters that does not fit into the standard categories. One cannot help but empathize with him. He is the product of his environment. We all have the potential for good and evil, and Magneto is the embodiment of both.
The second comic I read was Guardians of the Galaxy. This was one of the freebies and I picked it up because I know there is a Guardians film coming out soon and I really was unfamiliar with them. I have to say that I really liked this comic. The artwork is stunning and vivid with color exploding from the pages. The writing is also first-rate. I feel like I have been missing out on this. I am definitely going to read more of this. I’d like to get deeper into the characters before the film comes out.
When I was a kid, there was nothing as cool as Free Comic Day. I wish there had been. Regardless, I read a lot of comics as a kid and I always say that those early comics were my gateway drug into the addictive world of reading. As I snaked my way through the throngs of kids and adults in the comic store today, I saw all the people who love to read and appreciate the unique genre which combines image with word, thereby inspiring future writers and artists.