Magneto (1st series) #3

Issue Date: 
January 1997
Story Title: 
Kill Zone

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 visits the family of the colonel who died after trying to nuke him and the Acolytes in an attempt to end the cycle of violence. His efforts prove futile and he is exposed as a mutant and chased away by an angry mob. He continues to struggle with the pretense of being Magneto but despite his efforts to get out of the deception and be honest with the Acolytes who have faith in him, Cortez continues to draw him back into his web of deception. As New Avalon rises, the Acolytes are reunited and Magneto and Exodus come face to face. Exodus is nearly convinced that Joseph is Magneto until Joseph greets Amelia Voght with a lover’s kiss as Cortez suggested. This confirms for Exodus that Joseph is an impostor and he attacks Joseph. Exodus’ followers join in and Joseph is driven from New Avalon. Cortez tries to win favor with Exodus now that his plans are thwarted. Joseph is driven to the core of the planet and returns shortly thereafter, stronger and more powerful and fully convinced that he is truly Magneto.

Full Summary: 

Joseph pays a visit to the family of Colonel Julian Armstrong. Passing himself off as a representative of the government, Joseph relays the news of Armstrong’s death to his wife and two young sons. After a moment of shocked silence, Marion Armstrong and her eldest son Jake begin to ask for details. Jake in particularly is incensed and demands to know if his father died at the hands of mutants.
Joseph is dumbfounded by the boy’s anguish and tries to explain that a mechanical malfunction was responsible for his father’s death. The boy refuses to believe this and continues to lay the blame on mutants. Joseph tries to break the cycle of anger and violence by telling the boys that their father’s dying wish was that they not follow the path of hatred that he had and that he wanted their lives to be different. Hearing this, Marion slaps Joseph and calls him a liar. Jake suggests angrily that maybe Joseph is a mutant himself and killed their father himself.
From nowhere, a mob appears and chases Joseph off with anti-mutant epithets. Joseph turns on them and uses his powers to render their weapons useless. He chides them for their never-ending hatred and cows them into submission with the mere strength of his presence before disappearing into the skies. Joseph finds himself questioning whether their fear and hatred of him is justified.
In New Avalon, Amelia Voght remains the unwilling prisoner of Exodus and is wracked with guilt over betraying Joseph to Exodus.
Elsewhere, Exodus personally oversees the final preparations for New Avalon’s ascent. Despite his plot to destroy Joseph when he arrives at New Avalon, there is a part of Exodus that longs for the return of the true Magneto and that holds the hope that Joseph is truly his Lord reincarnated.
En route to New Avalon, Joseph confesses to the Acolytes that he is not Magneto and that he finds the acts perpetrated by the Master of Magnetism abominable.
After Joseph has gone, Cortez tries to convince the Acolytes that they are merely being tested once more by Magneto in a vain attempt to salvage his plans to pit Joseph and Exodus against each other. Cortez passes Magneto’s erratic behavior off as a side effect of his healing process following his assault by the X-Men and Xavier. Cortez then visits Joseph to bolster his confidence for the confrontation ahead.
At the Armstrong home, the family receives a visit from Simon Trask and the general. They inform the family of the true details behind Julian Armstrong’s death and take a full report of Joseph’s visit. Both men are convinced that the mystery visitor was the man claiming to be Magneto and wonder why he would pay a visit to the Armstrongs. The general reports that their intel suggests the Acolytes are hiding out in the Arctic Ocean and that it’s only a matter of time before they are located and dealt with.
On New Avalon, Exodus orders his Acolytes to prepare to attack the approaching vehicle carrying Joseph and the other Acolytes. Exodus’ followers reluctantly agree but at the last possible moment, Exodus rescinds his orders due to his small hope that Joseph may truly be Magneto reborn.
The Acolytes once again fawn over Joseph and apologize for their lack of faith. As they approach New Avalon, Cortez reminds Joseph that any slip in his performance could prove fatal. He then tells Joseph that Magneto was in love with Voght and that Exodus will be expecting an open display of affection upon their reunion. This is a bold-faced lie on Cortez’ part but Joseph is unaware of this. As they approach, the cloaking field is dropped and New Avalon is revealed as it rises from the arctic plain. As New Avalon stands revealed, a satellite detects it and sends its location to Trask.
Magneto boards New Avalon and is greeted by the Acolytes who are awed by his presence. Exodus tells Voght that Joseph is either an amazing performer or the genuine article before going to greet his “lord”. Magneto greets Exodus and immediately asserts his claim of leadership over the assembled Acolytes. Exodus promptly defers to Magneto and provides him with an update about the ascent of New Avalon. He includes the fact that millions will be killed as a result of the launch to test “Magneto”. He gives a tentative approval and leaves to complete further studies of New Avalon prior to its final launch. Exodus angrily challenges this delay and Magneto turns on him and rebukes him for daring to question his decision. He speaks forcefully and Exodus finds himself wondering if this is indeed the true Magneto due to the sheer force with which Joseph has spoken.
Joseph goes to find Voght and greets her with words of great affection and a kiss. She is bewildered by this and Exodus sees it as well, just as Cortez intended. This tips Exodus off to Joseph’s masquerade and he strikes out at Joseph, enraged that he had allowed himself to be fooled even for a moment.
Voght tries to warn Joseph but it is too late. In addition to physical blows, Joseph and Exodus forcefully share their disparate views of Magneto. Exodus sees Magneto as a righteous man of pure vision while Joseph sees him a violent and vengeful demagogue. Exodus calls on his followers to aid him in vanquishing the pretender to his Lord’s identity. Joseph’s own Acolytes fight back, still believing him to be the true Magneto. Joseph calls off his Acolytes, unwilling to see them consumed by the fighting. He stands alone against the combined might of Exodus and his Acolytes and is promptly expelled from New Avalon.
The force of the expulsion drives Joseph through the ice and deep to the magnetic core of the planet itself. As he plunges deeper, he digs deep into his own mind in search of the power and resolve that Magneto possessed, a part of him truly desiring to be Magneto in order to fully deal with the guilt and hatred he feels for the man.
On Avalon, Exodus rallies the Acolytes and prepares to lead them on the ascent to Avalon. Cortez, desperate to salvage some role in the new hierarchy, tells Exodus that he fabricated the story of Magneto’s love for Voght in order to test Joseph and expose him. Voght calls Cortez a liar and tries to make Exodus see that Cortez had hoped to pit Exodus against Joseph in an effort to eliminate them both. Exodus silences Amelia with a bolt of psionic energy. Cortez continues to try to win Exodus’ trust by disparaging Voght but Exodus coldly tells him that he is no fool and is well aware of his scheming ways and not to be trusted. Cortez calls for Voght’s execution for her betrayal. Exodus says that Voght’s punishment can wait until after he has had time to mourn the death of his dream that Magneto might return.
That night, Cortez plots his next move and a way to eliminate Voght before she can cast further doubt on his loyalties. As he ponders this, Joseph returns at full power and demands to know why he lied to him about the affair with Voght. Cortez claims that Voght herself told him of the affair in an attempt to cover up his deceptions. He tries to convince Joseph that they can still succeed and convince Exodus that he is truly Magneto. Joseph interrupts and informs Cortez that this is no ruse. The Joseph aspect of his personality has been discarded and the one true Magneto has truly returned!

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
Marion and Jake Armstrong, unnamed younger son
Unnamed general

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.
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.
The Trask in this issue is identified as Larry Trask. However, Larry Trask died in Avengers (1st series) #104. It is possible that the name Simon Trask was assigned to the character in his later appearances to explain this obvious error.

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