Tag Archives: x-men

Magneto: Issue #8 – The Angry Old Man Archetype

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One thing I admire about the X-men comics is that they really try to incorporate thought-provoking symbolism and ideas. This issue is no different. The underlying theme is how people and places that were once relevant and important often fail to keep pace with changing times. One need only look at Detroit, once a symbol of industrial innovation and now a desolate city on the verge of complete collapse.

In this issue, Magneto is confronted by S.H.I.E.L.D. agents, one of whom addresses Magneto and claims that his actions are a response to the fact that he has now become a useless and irrelevant person.

“And you might have been something special once… but now you’re just a feeble old man… angry… hurting people to make yourself relevant.”

I am too familiar with this type of person. I see them on the television railing against groups that are different and pose a threat to the life they are used to living. I read their offensive comments posted online, lashing out at a world that they no longer understand. It is a sad truth that when people feel threatened by social change, they lash out in anger. For me, this is the core of the angry-old-man archetype.

I am not getting any younger and the world around me certainly changes at a rapid rate. For this reason, I strive to read as much as I can, to continue learning, and to ensure that I do not become obsolete. I hope that in my later years I embody the venerable sage archetype and not become another angry old man.

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Magneto: Issue #6 – Collective Memory and Information Overload

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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.

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Magneto: Issue #5

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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.

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Magneto: Issue #4

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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.

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Magneto: Issue #3 – Segregation and the Liminal

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This is an excellent installment that deals with some deep social issues, particularly segregation and the hardships faced by people living on the edge of society.

Liminal people are individuals who are transitory or exist on the fringe. Most often, they are homeless or migrant workers, people who have not been able to occupy a space within the construct we call “normal society.” Often, seeing luminal people makes us uncomfortable. There could be several reasons for this: fear that we are just a few paychecks away from losing what we have; a sense of guilt or shame at seeing others that we cannot aid; and yes, self-righteous disdain and disregard for people we judge as lazy and hence inferior to ourselves.

Issue #3 opens with a scene in a tent city, where homeless people on the fringe of society have tried to build a community for themselves. Like all luminal groups, mainstream society does not want to see them or think about them, and the government officials are quick to find reasons to displace these individuals, pushing them farther away from society.

Female agent: The man you aided…Magneto…is a wanted terrorist.

Homeless man: I…I only gave him soup.

Male agent: Tell us where he went and this will go much better for you.

Homeless man: If I could help you, I would.

Female agent: I hope you understand we feel the same way. We may have additional questions for you. In the meantime, one of the officers will be along shortly to help you…in moving off-site.

Homeless man: But…this…is our home.

I lived in South Florida for many years. That area boasts an abundance of gated communities intended to provide a sense of safety and security to those who choose to live enclosed by gates and walls. It is, in essence, a self-inflicted segregation, separating themselves from others who they fear, who may be different, and who do not fit into the same social mold. I lived in one of these places and I can assure you, there is no sense of community there. In fact, it is quite the opposite. I actually felt more isolated in this manufactured “community” than I do in my current, organic and integrated neighborhood.

In this issue of Magneto, the humans who fear the mutants seek to create their own “gated community” which will provide them with their false sense of protection against those who are different and hence threatening.

“This is meant to be a peaceful refuge for humans…for those who fear what mutants might do…what they might become. Once the facility is complete…we’ll be protected. We’ll be protected because we’ll be segregated.”

This comic forces us to take a hard look at ourselves, at our beliefs and our actions. The media has a tendency to fuel the fires of fear and many respond in a manner that is not in the best interest of society. We extract ourselves, isolating from those that we do not understand and hence make us feel afraid. Fear is often the root of social injustice. I think it is a pretty safe assumption that a society based on fear is doomed to fail. I hope that we can replace some of our fear with trust and acceptance.

Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to read my post.

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Magneto: Issue #2

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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.

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Free Comic Day

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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.

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