Magneto (1st series) #1

Issue Date: 
November 1996
Story Title: 
Return of the Messiah

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

Brief Description: 

The amnesiac mutant named Joseph is haunted by the possibility that he was once the world’s most notorious mutant villain, Magneto. Despite the X-Men’s insistence that he not explore Magneto’s history, Joseph embarks on a journey of self-discovery that leads him to the ruins of Magneto’s fallen space station, Avalon. In his journeys, he comes across a band of errant Acolytes who are determined that he is their savior reborn. These Acolytes are being hunted by agents of the anti-mutant group called Humanity’s Last Stand and when Joseph defends them, they declare him their leader. Joseph runs from the adoring fanaticism and discovers the lost remains of Avalon. He is horrified after reviewing Magneto’s personal logs and fully understanding the extent of Magneto’s violent and murderous crusade in the name of mutantkind. Elsewhere Exodus, Magneto’s most loyal Acolyte, has gathered his own band of Acolytes and constructed New Avalon. When New Avalon launches, it will devastate Earth and leave millions dead as a result. Desperate to stop Exodus’ plans, Amelia Voght makes an unholy alliance with Fabian Cortez and reveals to him Joseph’s existence. Cortez finds Joseph and manipulates him into assuming Magneto’s identity in an attempt to stop Exodus’ destructive plans.

Full Summary: 

At the Xavier Institute, the mysterious mutant known at Joseph is researching what he believes to be his past as the nefarious master of magnetism, Magneto. He is determined to learn the truth of his past but finds that the X-Men have restricted his access to their files on Magneto. He tries a different approach and calls up information on Magneto’s former satellite fortress, Avalon. From this, he learns that a large part of Avalon crashed into the Andes mountain region of South America.

As he discovers this, Rogue catches him. She accuses him of being a liar and a fraud and chides herself for trusting him at all. Joseph says she’s being irrational and explains that he wasn’t trying to learn the X-Men’s secrets but the truth about Magneto and himself. Rogue tells him that he can’t do that as there is too great a risk that he will revert to his old ways if he learns the full truth of his past as Magneto. Joseph tries to reassure Rogue once again that he is not Magneto and wonders why the X-Men allow him to remain if they have such little trust and faith in him and his loyalties.
Rogue admits that perhaps they keep him there out of fear that he will revert to his villainous ways and that it’s better to have him there where they can monitor him. Joseph argues that he can’t live with that kind of uncertainty and doubt hanging over him. He says that when Xavier wiped his mind, he denied him of his basic right of moral choice and that preventing him from learning his own past simply compounds this violation of self. Rogue can’t help but empathize with his plight since she also had to face the burden of her own villainous past. Rogue relents and lets Joseph go, wishing him luck in his search and silently hoping that he can handle the truths he uncovers. As Rogue leaves, she gets the sense that she’s being watched but she doesn’t stay long enough to notice as Amelia Voght arrives in a cloud of swirling mists.

Joseph makes his way to South American where he spends a week exploring the Andes Mountain region for signs of Avalon. When he finally finds a small piece of Avalon, the ground opens up beneath him and he falls into a hidden cave system. Inside, he finds a shrine of sorts composed of pieces of Avalon. As he examines a metal replica of Magneto’s helmeted face, a beam of energy lashes out at him. This is followed by an attack by a group of unseen Acolytes. He is immediately recognized but the Kleinstocks declare him an impostor. The Kleinstock Brothers suspect that he is a spy sent by Humanity’s Last Stand. Joseph asserts that he is a mutant like them and is seeking Avalon. An Acolyte called Orator steps forward and confirms that he is emanating mutant energies and welcomes Joseph. The gathered Acolytes, including Scanner and Cargill, stare at Joseph and wonder… is he their Lord?

Deep in the arctic, Exodus has founded New Avalon and gathered his own group of Acolytes. The mutants at New Avalon have linked together through technological means to create a field that shields them from both electronic and psionic detection. Exodus stands before a traitor to his cause: Amelia Voght. She is shackled and has somehow been rendered powerless before him.
He asks her why a model Acolyte such as herself would oppose his grand design to follow in their Lord Magneto’s footsteps. She explains that the ascent of New Avalon will cause worldwide destruction and the deaths of countless innocents when it launches and creates a giant fissure in the arctic crust. Exodus callously says that it is a parting gift to those who tried to oppress mutantkind and nothing more than they deserve. Amelia boldly tells him that she thinks he’s insane. He assaults her with a psionic bolt and tells her that his spies have revealed her efforts to undermine him and her unauthorized jaunts out of New Avalon. He asks if she’s warned the X-Men of his plans and whether she is with him or against him. She clearly states that she is against his plans and Exodus pronounces that death is the punishment for defiance. He lashes out at her once again with his powers and she tries in vain to transmute her body into mist. As she does so, she is surrounded by an energy field and falls unconscious before she can see who it was that intervened on her behalf. Her last thought is that perhaps it is Charles Xavier, her former lover, who has come to her rescue.

Fabian Cortez arrives and is amused that Voght mistook him for her old flame. Exodus is shocked to see Cortez since he himself had killed the traitorous Acolyte. Cortez claims that he tasted death and was reborn. He tells Exodus that he has come to acknowledge him as his master and pledge his loyalty. Exodus responds with anger, saying that he has no use for a traitorous coward like Cortez. Cortez claims to be a changed man with no ill intent. He pleads for forgiveness from Exodus and the chance to atone for his past transgressions as well as plead for Voght’s life. Voght comes to and is surprised to hear Cortez’s plea. Exodus decides that he must ponder all of this and leaves the pair, forbidding Voght to leave New Avalon while he deliberates on both their fates.

In the Andes Mountains, Orator is giving an inspirational speech to his fellow Acolytes. In his speech, he expresses his hopefulness that they will soon find Avalon and implies that Joseph’s presence is a sign and that he may be their savior reborn. Joseph is becoming annoyed by the insistence of some of the Acolytes that he is Magneto and questions Orator’s assumption that Magneto is the leader they await.
Joseph notes that his time with the X-Men has shown him another option to Magneto’s way. Scanner replies that the X-Men are idealists who don’t have to deal with the hostile and danger posed by groups like Humanity’s Last Stand. She mentions their newest technology: Razor units designed to carry out purges of mutantkind. She believes that Joseph is Magneto and his rhetoric is simply a means of testing their loyalty to his vision. Joseph emphatically denies this but his protests are cut short by the arrival of the Razors. The attack is brutal and merciless. Joseph is driven into the river by a molten blast and the overwhelmed Acolytes fight for their lives. When Joseph emerges from the waters, he shouts “ENOUGH!” Scanner declares once again that he is their Lord Magneto.

The Razor’s “pilot”, Armstrong reports to his leader Trask what they are facing. From the description, Trask suspects this may be Magneto reborn and orders his troops to destroy Magneto before word of his return can spread. The Razors focus their fire on Joseph, who retaliates with full force. This display of power drives the Razors into a swift retreat and convinces the Acolytes that Joseph is truly Magneto reborn. Scanner is foremost among those declaring him their Lord. When he again denies this, Cargill acknowledges that she understands and that they must keep his return a secret. Joseph is frustrated by their obstinate insistence that he is Magneto and refuses to lead them. He runs away, diving into the river and using his powers to propel himself away from his would-be disciples.

In New Avalon, Voght has been imprisoned in an energy field. She is being visited by Fabian Cortez, who espouses his feelings of being reborn and renewed. Voght is skeptical but is coming to believe that Cortez is sincere. She thanks him for persuading Exodus to spare her. He says it was nothing and confesses that he shares her fears about New Avalon’s ascension and the effects it will have on Earth. Desperate, Voght decides to trust in Cortez’s apparent change of heart. She tells Cortez about Joseph’s existence in the hopes that Joseph may be able to dissuade Exodus from his course of action.

Far from the incessant suggestions of the Acolytes, Joseph reflects on what he has learned of himself and Magneto on this journey so far. He acknowledges that he thinks of Magneto as a separate person, though he is uncertain if this is fact or simply his way of distancing himself from the legacy of Magneto. He cannot help but wonder what kind of man could inspire such blind fanaticism in his followers and fears that that identity may resurface if he continues to dig deeper.
As he ponders this, he sense large amounts of metal nearby. It turns out to be the remains of Avalon that he had been searching for. He finds Magneto’s private chambers and as he enters, the computer recognizes him and calls him “master”. He discovers Magneto’s costume and helmet and inadvertently activates a message recorded by the Master of Magnetism. He listens to all of Magneto’s personal logs, which recount his war against humanity and numerous acts of destruction and violence. He is appalled by the horror and needless deaths.

As he questions his past, his thoughts are interrupted by the arrival of Cortez. Cortez calls him master, but Joseph corrects him and introduces himself. Joseph does not remember Cortez. Cortez explains that he was sent by Voght in the hopes that Joseph was Magneto and could convince his former disciple Exodus not to launch New Avalon and prevent the wanton destruction of the planet.
Cortez lets Joseph off the hook easily, baiting Joseph to suggest the plan that Cortez had all along. Poor naïve Joseph takes the bait and offers to pretend to be Magneto in order to stop this disaster. Joseph admits that there is risk involved and that the X-Men may believe that their fears have been proven justified and that he has reverted to his former terrorist ways. Joseph admits that he is afraid that there may be some truth in their fears. Cortez feigns trying to dissuade Joseph from taking this risk. Joseph sees this as an opportunity to redress the crimes of Magneto by using his identity to save millions of lives. Joseph resolves to risk his sole in order to take responsibility for his past crimes as Magneto.

Characters Involved: 

Joseph, Rogue (Both X-Men)


Joanna Cargill/Frenzy, Fabian Cortez, The Kleinstock Brothers, Orator, Scanner, Amelia Voght (All Acolytes)
Various unnamed Acolytes
Simon Trask, head of Humanity’s Last Stand

Razors, armored agents of Humanity’s Last Stand including Armstrong

On a viewscreen:

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.

Rogue refers to second chances and past sins. When she first debuted in Avengers Annual #10, Rogue was a member of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. She used her absorption powers to attack the heroine Ms Marvel (Carol Danvers) and permanently absorbed her powers and psyche. This act led to a growing mental instability that forced Rogue to seek the X-Men’s help in dealing with it. (Uncanny X-Men #171) As an X-Man, Rogue has had to face the consequences that her past actions have created both for her and those she has harmed, especially Carol Danvers.

Amelia Voght and Charles Xavier met and fell in love with each other in India after Xavier lost the use of his legs. She lived with Xavier until his plans to form the X-Men drove a wedge between them. (Uncanny X-Men #309)

Exodus “killed” Fabian Cortez in Avengers (1st Series) #369. Cortez had kidnapped Magneto’s granddaughter Luna and drawn the X-Men and Avengers to Genosha where he was making yet another bid for power. Exodus unleashed a powerful psi-blast that he thought had killed Cortez.

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.

Written By: