Magneto (1st series) #4

Issue Date: 
February 1997
Story Title: 

Peter Milligan (plot), Jorge Gonzalez (script), Kelley Jones (pencils), John Beatty, Mark Heike, Jim Sanders III (inks), Richard Starkings & Comicraft (letters), Brad Vancata (colors), Graphic Color Works (separations), Kelly Corvese (editor), Bob Harras (editor in chief)

Brief Description: 

Joseph continues to play the role of Magneto and becomes more convinced that he is truly Magneto. When Exodus challenges him once more, the two end up in single combat. Just as Exodus is convinced that Joseph is truly Magneto reborn they are attacked by Humanity’s Last Stand. Together they repel the initial attack. Amelia Voght narrowly escapes from Cortez and manages to capture the traitorous Acolyte, finally putting an end to his scheming. Trask reveals that he wants New Avalon to rise in the hopes that the resulting destruction will unite humanity against mutants once and for all. In battle, Joseph cannot bring himself to kill. This triggers the final realization that he is not Magneto, after all. Voght reveals the full history of Magneto’s legacy of anger and bitterness and Joseph finally comes to understand who Magneto was and more importantly why. He masquerades as Magneto one last time, ordering the Acolytes to disperse and find salvation within. Cortez escapes once more and Amelia decides to try things on her own rather than accept Joseph’s invitation to join the X-Men’s path. Joseph returns to the Xavier Institute at peace with himself at last.

Full Summary: 

Once again, the mutant called Joseph declares himself to be Magneto and claims that the part of him they knew as Joseph has been expunged. Exodus is seated next to the dais where Magneto stands and reminds those assembled that this impostor made the same claim earlier and that he had proved his claim to be false. Magneto says that Exodus should cease his blasphemy or face his wrath.
Cortez smiles and is smugly satisfied to see Joseph and Exodus at each other’s throats. His plan to turn them against each other so that he himself may seize power is going exactly as he planned.
Meanwhile, Amelia Voght holds onto a glimmer of hope that Joseph is still himself and merely pretending once more to be the Master of Magnetism reborn.
Exodus calls out Joseph once more, commanding those Acolytes who are loyal to him to attack the pretender who is sullying Magneto’s memory. Joseph counters this by calling Exodus a coward and challenging him to face him one-on-one to prove his claims. Exodus sneers and says that he’s made another mistake in his performance as the true Magneto would have struck down he or any other Acolyte at the slightest sign of attack or dissent.
Joseph cuts short his sentence with a blast of electricity. He laughs maniacally and says that Exodus is right, that Joseph had forgotten who he was and that he is now truly aware of himself and will prove it to those who still doubt.
Exodus presses his attack by unleashing a psionic attack on Magneto. He thinks to himself that if this is truly his master reborn he can only know for sure through combat and that should he perish it would be worth it to verify this man’s identity.
Cortez watches with glee and gloats to Amelia that once he is in power, he will fill her life with pain and misery unless she consents to be his consort. Amelia defiantly refuses and states clearly her utter disgust at the idea and her contempt for Cortez. Joseph and Exodus battle relentlessly causing even Voght to question whether Joseph has indeed convinced himself that he is Magneto.
Their battle rages and Magneto lifts Exodus from the base and takes the battle outside and away from prying eyes. The two connect momentarily with the field that shields New Avalon’s presence from the outside world and during this brief disruption, the military forces hunting Magneto manage to ascertain New Avalon’s location. The general sends a squadron of fighter planes to deal with the perceived threat of New Avalon. While the General and Trask realize this is a suicide mission that will at best damage the Acolytes’ base and lead to the deaths of only a handful of Magneto’s followers, they deem the sacrifice of their troops as acceptable.
Voght struggles to activate her mutant power and escape from Cortez. He encases her in an airless energy field and gives her one final chance to agree to his offer to become his concubine. She refuses once more, choosing death rather than a life of servitude under Cortez’s heel.
His attempt to murder Voght is interrupted by the Kleinstocks and Cargill who insist that he release Voght immediately. He states that in Magneto’s absence he is in command. He fails to notice that behind him, Voght has transformed into mist and teleported away. She rematerializes directly in front of him and catches him off guard. She punches him in the face, knocking him unconscious in a single blow.
Cargill tells Voght she’s glad that’s over and he had it coming. Voght assures her that it isn’t over yet, as the sounds of battle can still be heard outside.
Joseph strikes at Exodus once more and the Acolyte finally falls. He weakly concedes defeat and asks Joseph to kill him so that the others’ faith in him will be assured. As Magneto ponders this, he hears the approaching jets. Exodus accuses Joseph of unleashing Humanity’s Last Stand upon them as part of his plan. Magneto darkly tells Exodus not to call him by that name. He is Magneto and he had nothing to do with bringing those fighters here. He extends his hand to Exodus and orders him to take his place at his side and help him in defeating this new threat. Exodus is clearly surprised by this response but rises and accepts that this is truly Magneto.
Voght sees the entire thing and wonders if Joseph’s confusion is not the greater threat here. She follows them onto the vessel Joseph arrived in and can hear him listening to Magneto’s personal logs to bolster his charade. He hears her approach and she tells him there is no need for pretense with her. He tries to tell her that this is no pretense and that the burden of guilt he feels for Magneto’s actions is quite real.
She tells him that he can’t change the past but must learn from it. She tells him that he is not Magneto and is not doomed to repeat the same mistakes. Joseph says that his interaction with Colonel Armstrong’s family has shown him that there is too deep a rift between humanity and mutantkind and the pain and hatred is too great to overcome. The only way he can deal with his culpability in all this is to embrace Magneto’s single-minded, righteous belief in his cause. He tells her that there is no escaping the past for him and that as Magneto, he will repel this latest attack on his people.
Amelia feels pity for Joseph who has been overwrought by the revelations of the past several days. She is convinced that he has not truly reverted to being Magneto but knows there will be dire consequences if he continues to delude himself this way.
At the military headquarters the general and Trask review the preliminary data projections of how New Avalon’s ascent will affect the planet. The general notes that with this data he can garner from the President and perhaps the United Nations and they can truly stop the Acolytes. Trask pulls a gun on the general and tells him to put the phone down.
The general thinks that Trask is a traitor on the side of the mutants but Trask is enraged by this idea. He wants humanity to suffer this defeat because he believes the resulting destruction will galvanize humanity to combine forces and take direct action against mutantkind in a decisive manner. The fact that Humanity’s Last Stand attempted to stop it from happening will garner them support among these rising masses. He then shoots the general in the head.
Magneto and Exodus fly onward to confront the approaching fighter jets. They fire upon the pair of mutants and Magneto easily repels them. Exodus expounds upon how joyful he is to see Magneto in battle once more. Magneto sends the missiles back at the jets all the while debating within his own mind whether he should kill those who would strike down him and his kind.
At the last possible moment, he causes the missiles to swerve clear of the jet. Exodus immediately questions this and Magneto replies that it is best to capture and interrogate their foe to learn the humans’ plans for attack and any new weapons they may yet unleash on mutantkind.
Amelia Voght watches this exchange, concerned that if Joseph does kill one of the fighter pilots it will push him over the edge. She transforms into mist and takes a daring risk as she tries to teleport into the cockpit of a moving jet.
Joseph sees this and is alarmed but has no time to act. Amelia’s plan succeeds and she materializes inside the cockpit behind the pilot. She subdues the pilot and tries to eject him to safety. She then realizes that the jet is on a collision course with New Avalon.
Joseph watches in horror as the jet crashes into the Acolytes’ new home. Lashing out in rage, Joseph diverts the remaining missiles into space and magnetically rips the engines form the remaining jets. He takes care to eject the pilots beforehand though.
Joseph gathers the pilots and assures them that they will remain unharmed and be transported back to civilization and released. The pilots are dumbfounded, having expected to be tortured at the least if not killed outright. Joseph accepts that he can never be Magneto and has realized that he is not capable of casting aside his soul as easily as Magnus did.
Amelia materializes to Joseph’s surprise and he expresses his relief that she escaped before the jet crashed. She says that it didn’t do the pilot much good since she was unable to save him in time. Joseph asks if there’s anything he can do for her. She approaches and shows him a photo of Magnus and his family before tragedy struck. She tells him of Magnus’ family history. She describes their time in Auschwitz and how he alone survived the camps. She tells the story of his marriage to Magda and the death of his daughter, Anya.
As Joseph hears the sad details of Magnus’ early life, how he lost his family and drove his wife away in his grief-fueled murder of those who killed their daughter, his hatred and resentment of the man turns to pity and sorrow. He comes to understand a bit more what drove Magneto and in doing so, he realizes that he almost fell into the same trap of shutting up the pain and guilt he felt and allowing it to rule his life.
He thanks Amelia and tells her that he owes it to the memory of Magneto to be true to himself, regardless of the tragic circumstances of his own life. Amelia tells him that he needs to be Magneto for a bit longer as they still must deal with New Avalon.
As Magneto, Joseph goes before the Acolytes and announces that New Avalon is not yet ready to rise. He orders them to scatter about the globe and find the hope and salvation they sought from New Avalon within themselves and in the hearts of others. Exodus listens and is convinced once more that this is not Magneto. But he still has a lingering hope that some aspect of Magneto dwells within Joseph’s mind and will eventually emerge to lead them.
Later, Amelia and Joseph go to check on Cortez only to find that he has escaped his imprisonment. Amelia suggests hunting for him but Joseph suggests that it is unlikely he could survive in the freezing cold. Joseph asks what Amelia will do now and suggests that she start anew with the X-Men. Amelia admits that she can never go back to the way things were with the Acolytes but also knows she’s not ready to choose Xavier’s path as her own. It’s too big a step for her…for now.
Joseph returns to the Xavier Institute to find Rogue waiting for him. She is clearly pleased to see him but tries not to show it. She asks him how it went and he describes the emotional rollercoaster he experienced as he learned more and more about Magneto’s past. Through his trials, he has gained a sense of understanding and an inner peace. Rogue says she’s been debating whether she did the right thing in sending him off to find out Magneto’s past on his own, but now she feels it was worth the risk. Joseph tells her that he is glad to be back and she tells him that this is his home now.
At the home of the Armstrongs, Marion Armstrong can’t sleep. She can’t help but think back on Joseph’s visit and try to make sense of it all. She can’t reconcile Joseph’s words about violence not being the answer with everyone else’s perception that he was there to terrorize and kill them. She goes to check on her boys and gently takes a toy gun from her son Jake’s hands. She thinks to herself that she doesn’t want to lose him too and perhaps it’s time to stop the cycle of violence and hatred. She decides to talk with Jake the next day and hopes that it’s not too late.

Characters Involved: 

Joanna Cargill/Frenzy, Fabian Cortez, Kamal, the Kleinstock Brothers, Amelia Voght (All Acolytes)
Various unnamed Acolytes
Simon Trask, head of Humanity’s Last Stand
Marion and Jake Armstrong
Unnamed general and other military personnel

Story Notes: 

Magneto’s early history has been told in various places over the years. The death of his family was depicted in New Mutants (1st series) #49. Magnus’ time in Auschwitz, his marriage to Magda and the death of their daughter Anya were all fully revealed in Classic X-Men #12.
Magneto’s identity as Erik Magnus Lehnsherr was revealed to be an elaborate fabrication in X-Men #73. His true family name is as yet unrevealed.

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