Midlife Crisis on Infinite Earths: Magneto

Your favourite superheroes are over 50 years old! Before they got dark and gritty, they did some goofy things. Welcome to Midlife Crisis on Infinite Earths where we look back at the less than illustrious adventures of some of the biggest characters in comics.


Magneto, the master of magnetism, has long been a deeply complex character. Holocaust survivor, Mutant savior, terrorist, hero, villain, and everything in between. However, when he was created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in 1963 the character didn’t the depth he does now, with hilarious results.

Magneto has been a foe of the X-Men since the very beginning, appearing back in X-Men #1. In his first appearance, Magneto decided to show the world that mutants were superior to humans by taking control of the Cape Citadel missile base.

Keep in mind, Magneto is talking to an empty room.

Keep in mind, Magneto is talking to an empty room.

As far as schemes go, this one was pretty hard core. Remember, this story was written during the height of the Cold War. The idea of a marginalized group of people taking over a powerful American missile base is a legitimate threat to those in a position of power.

At least he was polite enough to sign his name.

At least he was polite enough to sign his name.

As one would expect, the X-Men show up and stop Magneto and are even thanked by the military for their help. From here, Magneto became a regularly occurring foe in the early issues of the X-Men.

The other options was a mutant who could disappear and a morbidly obese man, so options were limited.

The other options was a mutant who could disappear and a morbidly obese man, so options were limited.

However, Magneto became more of a cookie-cutter villain whose defeats were more humiliating than not.

He was a terrible recruiter

In X-Men #4, Magneto first formed the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, a group of like minded mutants who apparently shared Magneto’s ideas of mutant dominance. He also picked some of the worst mutants possible.

You had Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch, who were forced into loyalty to Magneto since he saved their lives from an angry mob. Then you have the Toad, whose powers — super-jumping — are practically useless. Last there was Mastermind, who could create illusions that only worked until people discovered what they are.

Mastermind’s powers worked exactly once, not that it ever stopped him from trying over-and-over again.

Mastermind’s powers worked exactly once, not that it ever stopped him from trying over-and-over again.

The problem with this team was that when they weren’t bickering with each other, they were back-stabbing. Needless to say, this often led to the team’s defeat.

He later tried to recruit the Sub-Mariner into their ranks, convincing Namor that he was a mutant. The problem with Namor is that his desire to beat the shit out of oppressors is only secondary to his need to bone a surface-woman. In X-Men #6, Namor turned on Magneto because he decided to white knight the Scarlet Witch, who was meek as a kitten despite being the most powerful member of the group.

Speaking  for  women like they can’t speak for themselves isn’t any better, Subby.

Speaking for women like they can’t speak for themselves isn’t any better, Subby.

Their next attempt at recruitment, Magneto tried to recruit the Blob onto the team. To be fair, at the time, the pool of mutant candidates was pretty small to choose from. In this latest scheme, Magneto and his Brotherhood tried to take control of a missile factory. It all fell apart when Magneto accidentally hit the Blob in the face with a missile.

Magneto’s uses the word “perfect” like 98% of the bloggers on the internet.

Magneto’s uses the word “perfect” like 98% of the bloggers on the internet.

Speaking of being bad at recruiting…

Magneto was bad at detecting mutants

For someone who was trying to recruit mutants for his cause, Magneto was terrible at identifying his own people.

The first time this happened was in Journey into Mystery #109 when Magneto tried to recruit Thor into the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants.

“You withstood magnetism? You must be a mutant!”

“You withstood magnetism? You must be a mutant!”

At this point in Marvel history, there were plenty of non-mutant heroes hanging around, the Fantastic Four, the Avengers, Spider-Man, and so-on. So for Magneto to immediately assume that Thor was a mutant is absurd.

Magneto does one better in X-Men #11 when he also makes the mistake of assuming that the Stranger — a powerful cosmic being from outer space - was also a mutant.

Magneto was behind the curve when it came to identity politics.

Magneto was behind the curve when it came to identity politics.

In the latter incident, the Stranger kidnaps Magneto and the Toad for a while. The mortal of the story is if you misidentify somebody, you get sent to space jail.

These aren’t the biggest examples of Magneto being clueless about people, thanks to the magic of retcons.

Remember when I said that the charter members of the Brotherhood were both Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch? Well, years later in Uncanny Avengers (Vol. 2) #4 it was revealed that the twins were never mutants to begin with.

At least until they decide to change this again.

At least until they decide to change this again.

This was also years after Magneto was tricked into thinking these pair were his children. Again, another deception created by the High Evolutionary (pictured above). For someone who claims to be from a superior race, Magneto is pretty easily duped by a human geneticist.

That time magneto built his own nazi-esque regime.

But let’s back up and let’s take a second look at X-Men #4 for a minute. In later years, it was established that Magneto was a survivor of the Holocaust. This was first explored in Uncanny X-Men #161. Not only did he survive one of the worst genocides in human history, he survived Auschwitz.

Not exactly the happiest place on Earth…

Not exactly the happiest place on Earth…

That was about 20 years after the first Magneto stories were written so it’s kind of shocking when you take a look at X-Men #4. In that story, Magneto takes over the island nation of Santo Marco. His first order of business? Install his own totalitarian regime, complete with an army. What does that army look like? Well, I’m glad you asked…

They even Goose-Step!!

They even Goose-Step!!

For a Holocaust survivor to create his own army patterned after the people who slaughtered his entire family and everyone he knew is fucked up. Let that sink in for a moment.

Now let’s end on something less depressing…

That time magneto tricked the x-men with a halloween mask

In X-Men #5, Magneto tries to lure the X-Men into a trap by tricking them into thinking there is a new mutant that needs help. This mutant stirs up an angry mob at a track and field competition with his super-human jumping.

A third mutant that can leap super-good? What are the odds?

A third mutant that can leap super-good? What are the odds?

Now, I know what you’re thinking: Magneto wouldn’t just put a mask on the Toad and send him out to lure the X-Men. Well…

… That’s exactly what he did.

… That’s exactly what he did.

On top of that, it looks like one of those cheap plastic Halloween masks they used to sell back in the day. What’s more surprising about this asinine plot is the fact that it actually worked. You’d think the X-Men forgot that they had a special computer that not only detected mutants but could differentiate between ones they’ve previously identified.

magneto’s most humiliating defeat

Magneto later made an appearance in the New Fantastic Four cartoon from 1978. That cartoon has the distinction for being the show where they replaced the Human Torch with a robot for stupid rights issues. (not because a kid wanted to light himself on fire as people often believe)

Anyway, one episode featured Magneto going toe-to-toe against Mister Fantastic of the Fantastic Four. The idea of Magneto clashing with the FF is not an outlandish idea since that was the plot of Fantastic Four #102-104. That story featured Magneto teaming up with the Sub-Mariner again. The cartoon? Not so grand a scheme.

It ultimately ends with Magneto getting defeated with a wooden gun and then getting arrested like a common crook, but don’t take my word for it, watch the exceedingly wordy scene here:

Well that’s enough for this edition of Midlife Crisis on Infinite Earths.

Who do you want us to cover in our next edition? Let us know in the comments section below!

Nick Peron

Stand-Up Comedian from Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. He has been writing articles about popular culture on the internet for almost 20 years. He has written for destroythebrain.com, as well as the now defunct micro-shock.com and bthroughz.com. More recently, he had been a fan contributor at www.fandom.com and has been an active contributor to the Marvel Comics Database for over a decade. He also had a bit role in the film Sexsquatch. His biggest claim to fame however is the fact that he has been banned in China.