Magneto (1st series) #2

Issue Date: 
December 1996
Story Title: 

Peter Milligan (plot), Jorge Gonzalez (script), Kelley Jones (pencils), John Beatty (inks), Richard Starkings & Comicraft (letters), Brad Vancata (colors), Kelly Corvese (editor), Bob Harras (editor in chief)

Brief Description: 

Joseph continues to pretend to be Magneto in order to win the Acolytes’ support but finds himself slipping deeper and deeper into the role. Despite learning that Cortez tried to kill the true Magneto, he continues with the plan set forth by Cortez to stop the ascent of New Avalon. The Acolytes are further convinced of his veracity when he repels several attacks by human aggressors but are bewildered when he spares the life of the commanding officer. The mutant-hating Col. Armstrong berates Magneto with his dying breath and drives home the horrors that Magneto was responsible for in the mind of Joseph, who is overcome with guilt. After heroically defending himself and the Acolytes against a nuclear attack, Magneto agrees to lead the to New Avalon. Meanwhile, Exodus has tortured Amelia Voght and learned the truth about Joseph and smugly awaits his arrival.

Full Summary: 

In the jungles of South America, Joseph addresses the Acolytes while dressed in the classic red and purple costume of Magneto. He declares himself to be Magneto. Moments later, he confesses to Fabian Cortez that he cannot abide this charade much longer. Cortez tries to reassure him and praises his performance so far. He offers to help him fine-tune the details of voice and body language that will perfect his masquerade and fool even Exodus. Lashing out in his frustration, Joseph uses his powers to destroy the computer banks holding Magnus’ journals.
As Cortez reaches out to comfort Joseph, a group of Acolytes enter and demand that he keep his hands off of their Lord Magneto. Kamal and the Kleinstocks attack Cortez calling him a traitor for his previous attempt to kill Magneto. Joseph intercedes using the commanding voice of Magneto. He declares that he will decide if anyone is to die. Scanner is surprised and asks why Magneto would defend the man who tried to take his life rather than punish him, as he deserves. Joseph is surprised to learn this bit of information. Cargill asks boldly if he is truly Magneto or not. Joseph begins to confess that the trials of the past months have placed a strain on him but Cortez interrupts. He chastises Cargill for daring to question their liege. Cargill apologizes and says she merely wished to hear the truth of his identity from him directly. Joseph affirms once more that he is Magneto.

After dismissing the other Acolytes, Joseph confronts Cortez about his duplicity and the fact that he is not Magneto as he just claimed. Cortez begs for mercy claiming that he also nearly died and that experience changed him and that he is dedicated to atoning for those past crimes. He reminds Joseph that only together can they stop Exodus. Joseph sees that they are both seeking to make up for past mistakes but makes it clear to Cortez that there are to be no more lies. Joseph leaves and Cortez speaks to a small bird that is flitting nearby. He says that he only wants harmony between mutants and flatscans, but as he speaks he grabs the bird and crushes it in his hand.

Nearby Colonel Armstrong, commander of the Razor units, reports in to Trask about his progress. He reports that he has found Magneto and the Acolytes and asks for permission to attack. He is denied and Trask states that he has a better plan and orders Armstrong and his men to withdraw. He asks Armstrong to leave a remote heat seeker at that location and move back. Armstrong begs for the chance to exact his revenge on Magneto directly and Trask makes it clear that it’s too risky and Magneto might escape. Trask then confers with the general and they agree to strike with missiles in an hour’s time. Armstrong decides to defy orders and act on his own. He allows those men who wish to leave a chance to before he and the others attack.

Joseph is about to take his leave of the Acolytes and Cortez advises him to reconsider. The Acolytes wish to follow and he believes that ‘Magneto’ should lead them to New Avalon.

At New Avalon, Amelia Voght ponders her fate as Exodus’ Acolytes near completion of the massive space station. She is escorted to Exodus’ chambers by two Acolytes. He asks her where Cortez has gone and she says she knows nothing about it. He berates her for interfering with his plans to carry out Magneto’s legacy and assures her that her tactics will not stop him from learning the truth. He pulls out a bizarre alien creature and tells Voght that she will reveal all her secrets to him. Voght is horrified and asks what the creature is. Exodus explains that it is an alien parasite he retrieved from an asteroid. It feeds on its victim’s blood and regurgitates poison into the veins. It then lays eggs in the host’s blood vessels which eat their way of the host body when hatched, leading to a slow and agonizing death. Voght is horrified as Exodus places the creature on her chest. She admits to talking with Cortez and advising him to flee out of fear that Exodus would execute him. Exodus does not believe her and leaves the creature on her. As he turns to leave it plunges its barbed tail into her throat and she screams in pain.

The Acolytes are delighted to hear that Magneto will be leading them to New Avalon. They eagerly follow his lead but question what they will do about the armored Razors that attacked them. At Cortez’s prompting, Joseph declares that they will take the initiative and strike back at their enemies. The Acolytes eagerly follow but Cortez is growing uneasy with the ease at which Joseph slips into his role as Magneto and wonders if he is truly reverting to his former self.
The Acolytes and Magneto attack the Razors in unison and Magneto makes short work of it with his vast electromagnetic powers. During the scuffle, the Acolyte called Orator is captured by gravely wounded Colonel Armstrong. He tries to use the Orator as a hostage but Joseph easily neutralizes his weapon. Cargill wants to kill Armstrong but Magneto forbids it. Armstrong rants about how Magneto killed his brothers before collapsing from his injuries. Cortez advises Magneto to leave him there to die but Joseph does not care what the Acolytes think and has had enough of pretending. He refuses to leave Armstrong there to die and carries him back to their refuge.

Inside, Joseph tries to scrub away his feelings of guilt and the shame of his lies, literally washing himself until his skin is raw. Despite the efforts of an Acolyte with healing powers, Colonel Armstrong is barely clinging to life. The embittered Armstrong accuses Magneto of keeping him alive as a bizarre form of torture and Joseph tries to assure him that this is not the case. He even offers to grant the man a dying wish if he can. Armstrong begs him to kill him and just get it over with. Joseph refuses and suggests that perhaps there is a message he might want relayed to someone. Armstrong merely curses at Joseph until he dies. Joseph finds the man’s wallet and sees that the hate-filled colonel had a wife and two young children. This only adds to Joseph’s feelings of remorse and guilt. His thoughts are interrupted by Cortez, who tells him that the Acolytes are growing restless and once more questioning him due to the way he spared the life of the soldier who attacked them.

Joseph berates the Acolytes for the fickleness. They are not satisfied when he denies he is Magneto and continue to question when he has embraced the role of savior. He challenges them to speak their minds openly. With some hesitation, Cargill expresses her concerns and says that it seemed out of character for Magneto to show mercy to a human who attacked them. Scanner chimes in and says that even when the man screamed at him he did not smite him as they expected. She quotes the man as wishing them all dead and saying it would happen “sooner than we think.” Joseph ponders what this might mean as four nuclear missiles speed towards them. Joseph senses something wrong and goes outside.
He sees birds fleeing the area and recalls Armstrong’s dying words. Piecing it all together, Joseph realizes they are in grave danger. He orders the Acolytes to flee immediately. Seeing the missiles, Joseph realizes they are targeted on him. Using his magnetic powers, he opens a deep fissure in the ground and lures the missiles in behind him and deep underground. Once they are deep in the chasm, he propels himself out and seals the earth behind him. The missiles explode underground. This act once more rallies the Acolytes and they cheer Magneto on. Cortez however is still concerned with the growing ease Joseph has in switching on the Magneto persona but is still confident he can use Joseph’s shaky self-identity to his advantage.

With the Acolytes prepared to journey to New Avalon, Joseph provides them a transport by drawing precious metals from the earth itself and forging them into a sleek, high tech aircraft. This flashy display of power and arrogance puts to rest any lingering doubts the Acolytes may have had about Joseph’s claim to be Magneto reborn. Cortez commends Joseph on his performance, which prompts him to worry about the ease with which he now slips into the role of High Lord Magneto. In response to these nagging concerns, Joseph decides to make a detour to deal with unfinished business regarding Colonel Armstrong’s family.

In New Avalon, Exodus ceases his torture of Amelia Voght when he learns of Magneto’s apparent return and her story is corroborated. Exodus dismisses the threat that Joseph represents and Voght warns him not to underestimate Joseph’s mettle. Exodus remains confident that he can handle this pretender to Magneto’s throne and eagerly awaits his arrival.

Characters Involved: 



Joanna Cargill/Frenzy, Fabian Cortez, Kamal, The Kleinstock Brothers, Orator, Scanner, Amelia Voght (All Acolytes)
Various unnamed Acolytes

Simon Trask, head of Humanity’s Last Stand

Colonel Julian Armstrong

Razors, armored agents of Humanity’s Last Stand including Washington.

Story Notes: 

At this point in Joseph’s development, he was unaware of his true past and connections to Magneto. As this series unfolds, he is still uncertain if he is truly a younger, revitalized Magneto or a different person entirely.

Fabian Cortez betrayed Magneto and the Acolytes and consigned them to death in X-Men (2nd Series) #3. One of the Acolytes mentions that they never should have trusted him on Asteroid M. This is an erroneous statement since the handful of original Acolytes all perished with Magneto in the fall from Asteroid M.

Humanity’s Last Stand is an anti-mutant hate organization that had connections to Operation: Zero Tolerance. It may have been a more militant offshoot of the Friends of Humanity. Humanity’s Last Stand first appeared in Uncanny X-Men Annual ’95.

Simon Trask first appeared as the head of Humanity’s Last Stand in Uncanny X-Men Annual ’95. His first name was not revealed until Punisher (3rd Series) #15. His exact relation to the Trask family has yet to be revealed.

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