Diversity Aboveground: New Magneto Needed?

Oct 3, 2015

Nowadays, it can feel like Marvel is nothing but change. Thor, Wolverine and Hawkeye are women. Captain America is African-American. Spider-Man has a Latina mother and an African-American father. With the end of Secret Wars: House of M coming up on October 28, is it time for a new Magneto?

The current Magneto, Erik Lehnsherr was born in the comics as Max Eisenhardt in Germany. While his first appearance was in September 1963, Eisenhardt didn’t reveal hints about his Jewish youth until the 1980s. describing, “I should have died myself with those I loved. Instead, I carted the bodies by the hundreds, by the thousands … from the death house to the crematorium … and the ashes to the burial ground.” He confirms the camp as Auschwitz and that was where he was liberated by Allies. Finally, his life is coming together. He’s a new man and proves it by changing his name to Erik Lehnsherr before marrying a Romani girl, Magda. They had a little daughter and the perfect life until Erik was forced to use his mutant powers to protect himself. The community was frightened and set fire to his house, killing young Anya. Erik took out the pain of her death on the violent mob, but his violence and abilities scared off Magda forever. Erik was left with nothing but himself once again.

The tragedy of Magneto is that his life experience has taught him to trust nobody. He’s not even a practicing Jew anymore, saying, “As a boy, I believed. As a boy, I turned my back on God forever.” His rescue from camp is the only goodness that humanity has ever done to him and it’s overshadowed by all the wrongs.

Magneto stops train

“My land …all the countries of the world … turned their back on me and mine when we were condemned to Hitler’s death camps. Therefore, in return, I have sworn to deny them.”

His grief has turned to hatred of his oppressors which in turn, turns him into an oppressor against them. He’s become the very person he claims to fight against. Occasionally, there is acknowledgement of this, “And the harder I try to cast it aside, to find a gentler path … the more irresistibly I’m drawn back.”

He’s permanently damaged; a sad reminder that evil done to a person, even as a child, can still affect them during their entire life and affect future generations as well.

Magneto’s importance as Erik Lehnsherr made the most sense with regards to the Red Skull and Steve Rogers; two more ties to World War II. However, Lehnsherr killed Red Skull and Steve Rogers is no longer Captain America. There are very few real survivors of the Holocaust still alive and it becomes more and more part of the past. Genocide becomes a bizarre, antiquated notion like slavery. The problem is that slavery does still exist. The United Nations estimates that 27-30 million people on Earth are currently slaves, including in the United States. Genocide is a current world-wide problem. What if there was a new Magneto to make readers realize that these problems have not gone away and still matter?

There are even some possible locations for the new Magneto to come from:

Kamala Khan is shocked.

Republic of the Union of Myanmar

Formerly Burma, this country has a long history of violence including atrocities enacted by its own government. Child soldiers are common. The latest skirmish was between the dominant religion, Buddhism, and a minority religion, Islam. The Muslims have been forced into refugee camps for safety. Just as Erik Lehnsherr and Kitty Pryde were opposite ends of the Jewish spectrum, imagine what it would be like to have Kamala Khan arguing with a Muslim Magneto. What would it be like for Kamala to realize despite her parents’ restrictions that she’s incredibly privileged? An estimated 63 million female minors are unable to attend school worldwide. In the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, about 45% of children don’t attend school past the first five primary grades.


Jeffrey Veregge's work


*gasp* But aren’t all Canadians supposed to be polite and kind and…non-murderer-y?

Well yeah, but it appears the country is also capable of genocide. If Magneto was a female member of the First Nations, she probably grew up in poverty as up to 64% in some areas do. Her parents were forced to live in boarding schools where they probably weren’t permitted to speak their own language, could have been forced into converting to Christianity and possibly victims of sexual abuse. Over 3,000 students died while other schools sterilized their students against their will. Indigenous women are also three times more likely to experience violence and 4.5 times more likely to be murdered than any other group of females in Canada. Over 1,200 First Nation females have gone missing and/or murdered in the last thirty years even though the group only makes up 4% of Canada’s population. She could also be an interesting foil to Red Wolf who hasn’t had his own series since a 9 issue run in 1972 but will be getting a brand new run in December. the new series’ team consists of Nathan Edmondson (Black Widow), Dalibor Talajić (Deadpool) and Jeffrey Veregge. This will be Veregge’s first project with Marvel. The artist will provide all the covers, provide design work and consult because he’s a member of the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe based out of Kingston, Washington as well as descending from the Suquamish and Duwamish Tribes also.


Congolese Pygmies

Democratic Republic of Congo

Things sounded pretty rough for Erik Lensherr but what if he was a Mbuti Pygmy in the Democratic Republic of Congo during the Congo Civil War? In that case, Magneto had to witness as his family was killed and eaten. Pygmies are seen as sub-human and/or containing magical qualities if consumed. Some of the Pygmies were killed and eaten just because another group wanted their land. Prior to successful protests earlier this year that forced their president to step down, 45,000 residents died every month and over 400,000 women were raped every year.


Child in North Korea

Courtesy of Cause & Affect Foundation

North Korea

North Korea is not a good place to be for just about anyone but it’s the worst for Christians. The country doesn’t allow the worship of anyone but Kim Jong-un, their Supreme Leader. It could be a kindness to be sent to prison although there are reports of cannibalism. Otherwise, Christians are killed publicly. The usual method is a bullet to the head but a steamroller was also used at least once to run over the condemned. For the rest of its citizens, life is also hard. Famines are common and also leads to cannibalism. Famine and related effects are estimated to have killed 3.5 million North Koreans since 1993. 20% of their children suffer from stunted growth and 30% are underweight.


Syrian refugees

Half the Syrian refugees are children.


Although the media points out that the majority of its residents follow Islam, there are Syrian Jews. Less than 50 remain in the country, but the number of Jewish refugees from Syria is unknown. No matter which religion a Syrian Magneto would be, the situation would have many similarities to the Holocaust. ISIS is an invading government who feels that God is on their side even as they kill anyone who is different from them. They also rob or destroy the antiquities of their victims just as the Nazis did. Unlike many of Jews, Romani and others in World War II, many Syrians have been able to escape their homeland. However, they are meeting the same resistance as those trying to help the Jews 70 years ago. Countries refuse to send aid or allow the refugees to stay. More than 2,000 Syrians have drowned in the Mediterranean Sea since 2011, just trying to make it to Europe.

Why not have an “All-New, All-Different” Magneto?


Remember the many, many columns…okay, it was only three…complaining about the lack of canon homosexual characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe?

Now, there is one.

Jose Gutierrez

Joey Gutierrez (Juan Pablo Raba) made his debut in the premiere of Agents of SHIELD.

Bobbi Morse revealed his sexual orientation as she described the knowledge she’d gained on his Facebook, “I know that your ex-boyfriend was a health nut and was on you to take better care of yourself but it wasn’t until you two broke up that you finally made a change.”

Later, Gutierrez is informed that his new Inhuman status can be a danger to himself or others so he can’t go back to his old life just yet, possibly never. He complains, “But I like my life, it has taken me a long time to get here, to build a life where I’m actually comfortable, much less happy. I’m not about to toss it.”

It’s not clear what he’s specifically referring to. Gutierrez is Latino and faces a lot of discrimination from that alone, even going by Joey instead of his legal name, Jose. He’s homosexual so it could also be about finally accepting himself, his sexuality and the newly gained freedoms available to him.

However, he later relates being Inhuman to being homosexual. SHIELD wants Gutierrez’ Inhuman status to be a secret and he argues against it.

“I’ve lived with a secret before. I was miserable until I came out with it.”

There’s no word on how much his character might reappear or if he will, but hopefully, this is just the start of many more LGBTQA characters to come.


Which new projects are you looking forward to?

Next week…

Is Girl Meets World the most important series on the Disney Channel?

Also, there could be Pan and/or Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard: The Sword of Summer by Rick Riordan.


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