Chick Magnet: Magneto and Relationships
Ever since his reformation in the early 1980's, Magneto has made women swoon both on panel and in the fan base. He has all the intelligent, brooding, saturnine, passionate, devoted, damaged, and destructive “save me!” qualities of the classic Byronic hero that draws them in every time.
So what is Magnus’ record with the ladies in the 616?
Well, Tony Stark he is not, but he has never hurt for companionship when he so chose, which was not often.
This list of his relationships is arranged chronologically in his life.
The first and the love of Magnus’ life is obviously Magda. She was a gypsy with dark auburn hair and blue eyes, much like her daughter Wanda, the Scarlet Witch. She seems to have been close to Magnus’ age or slightly younger. If she survived Auschwitz, she must have had a strong will, yet when we encounter her as an adult in Classic X-Men #12 she seems timid and reliant on her husband.
Magnus met Magda at the boys school he attended and she and her mother worked the grounds for, an indication of the descrimination her people already endured that Magnus and his family were about to experience. The nine year-old Magnus seems to have quickly developed a strong crush on Magda and he made a silver necklace for her out of scraps from his uncle's jewelers shop. Magda was soon after incarcerated in a concentration camp with the rest of the Gypsies, but Magnus and his family fled to Poland. Eventually only Magnus would survive his family and be incarcerated in Auschwitz where he would become a sonderkommando in order to survive. It is assumed that Magda and her family was eventually shipped to Auschwitz for their murder with tens of thousands of other Roma. (The story of Magneto and Magda's early years is currently being told in the excellent five-issue miniseries, X-Men: Magneto Testament, *the* best comic Marvel is publishing this year.)
Given the sexual and ethnically segregated confines of Auschwitz, continuing their relationship must have been problematic to say the least, but from real life accounts, it was not impossible. In the comic, witnesses state that Magneto “had been at that accursed place from the start” (Uncanny X-Men #199), and having watched the camp and its satellites take form, Magnus probably knew it inside and out enough to be able to make contact with her and carry on some form of a relationship. When the order was given to eradicate the gypsy population in 1944, Magnus might have helped to arrange to hide Magda within the Jewish population. He certainly saved her life as they escaped from the camp and provided for her until they reached a place of safety (Classic X-Men #12).
Many women in Auschwitz suffered rape or were forced to prostitute themselves for food. After their escape, Magnus most likely was very patient and gentle with Magda, giving her time to get over her experiences. Classic X-Men #12 implies that a period of time elapsed during which they recovered between finding their way to/making their home in a village in the Carpathian Mountains and when Magnus and Magda were married. Probably within a year or two of their marriage, Anya was born. When Anya was four or five, Magnus moved his family from the countryside to the Ukrainian city of Vinnitsa in order to peruse an education as an engineer. Tragically, the first night the family was there the inn they were staying at caught fire. Returning from a day laborer job, Magnus discovered his powers in the course of saving his wife. However, he was beset by the police upon emerging from the inn and kept from saving Anya who burned to death before him. In his grief and rage he lashed out, killing the entire mob.
Terrified of what she witnessed, Magda fled, calling her husband a “monster”. Whether she fled because her husband had become something non-human or whether she fled because she watched him become a mass murder is up to some debate. However, Magnus' perception is that she fled because she saw him use his powers, not because he was a killer. It is unknown whether or not she knew she was pregnant with Magnus' children at the time, but Magnus did not. Months later she gave birth to twins, naming them Pietro and Wanda, on Wundergore Mountain. She then almost immediately ran out into a blizzard where it is assumed, given her weakened state, she perished.
Magneto spent years after Magda abandoned him searching Eastern Europe for her. He even went so far as to hide his Jewish identity in order to stay in a region where he was wanted for mass murder in order to attempt to reunite with his wife. Despite giving up the search, for decades after he would be haunted by her and Anya’s memory (Classic X-Men #12 & 19, Uncanny X-Men #304, X-Men Vol. 2 #40, etc.). When he began his “reform period” he made one last effort to track her down. In retracing her last steps up Wundergore, he discovered that Wanda and Pietro were his children (The Vision and Scarlet Witch miniseries Vol.1 #4).
That Magda ran from her husband that awful night is understandable given that she had just witnessed him becoming a mass murder. That she continued to run after her initial panic indicates some serious problems in the relationship. Magnus had proved his devotion to her time and time again, and in that moment he had reacted with completely understandable grief and rage at the death of their child. That night he needed her more than he ever had before, and yet she abandoned him. Ran away and kept running, kept rejecting him over and over.
You don’t do that to someone you love. You don’t leave someone you love in their darkest hour. This makes me theorize that perhaps Magda didn’t love him as he loved her. Magda was younger than her husband, maybe only 16 when they escaped Auschwitz. As we saw in Classic X-Men #12, even as an adult she somewhat shy and reliant on Magnus. It is possible that given his heroism in saving her in Auschwitz, Magda had come to confuse “need” with “love” and had married a knight on the white horse, not Magnus. The instant Magnus became something other, something that was not “her savior”, she bailed.
However, there is a second theory as to why Magda bolted on the man she loved at the moment he needed her the most: She went insane.
Like their father, it seems that Pietro (Quicksilver) and Wanda also suffer from mental disorders, but their disorders are markedly different from his. In particular, Wanda seems to suffer from schizophrenia. Magnus has shown multiple emotional disorders: Bi-Polar disorder, survivors guilt, control issues, etc, but not schizophrenia. When Magda abandoned her children and walked out in the snow to die, she was acting irrrationally, she was not acting in a sane manner. If Magneto was on her trail, wouldn't it make sense that he would therefore come across the twins before he found her? (And indeed, that is how he discovered his relationship to the twins.) It is also ironic that while she fled from her own husband because he had become "a monster", she seemed to have no issues with having a talking cow-woman, Bova, help her give birth. It is possible that Wanda inherited schizophrenia from her mother. At the time of Anya's death, Magda would have been entering the early age range for schizophrenia to kick in. Seeing her daughter burn to death and her husband slaughter hundreds of people through mysterious means could easily have pushed a person genetically predisposed into a psychotic episode. She had a "Nietzsche moment".
Which makes that event even more tragic, as Magnus would probably have not recognized the early warning signs as his wife having a mental disease. To him, her rejection was a conscious, if irrational, decision on her part. When in fact, she may have had no choice.
It is possible that Magnus has gotten angry at Magda for what she did to him as he was searching for her off panel, but given his decades-long attachment to her memory, it is unlikely. In X-Men Unlimited #2 he visited the grave marker that he had set up for Magda on Wundergore and wept over it. When Magneto became ruler of Genosha, he named the central plaza in Hammer Bay after her. I don’t believe Magnus has ever properly processed that incident and moved on. That night is just as important in his mind as the Holocaust, and I believe it was the catalyst for Magnus' alienation from humanity. It is not just the Holocaust Magnus cites when stating his manifesto for Charles In Uncanny X-Men #161, it is her:
"Even those you love will turn from you in horror when they discover what you truly are."
Magda showed him that it doesn’t matter how much you love someone, how much you have proven yourself to them. It doesn’t matter who you are or what you do, humans hate and fear difference, no matter what. She is part of the core of his anti-human philosophy.
However, when Wanda created her father's “dream world” in House of M, Magda did not appear, perhaps indicating feelings of ambivalence on his part. And it would be about time. Forty-plus years after she hurt him so badly, Magnus may at last be getting over her.
While Magneto was working for the CIA in Brazil, he briefly became involved with his personal physician Isabelle (Classic X-Men #19). A black-haired Latin beauty, Isabelle was an intelligent and determined woman, especially given that she was a doctor in a Latino country in the 1960’s. This determination she playfully applied towards seducing Magnus. However, Magnus was still hung up on Magda and on their first date, he broke off the beginnings of physical intimacy in order to confess that he was still thinking of his wife and how she had hurt him.
“What manner of man am I to inspire such reactions in the woman I loved?”
“A good man, who torments himself needlessly.”
Patient and persistent, Isabelle was giving Magnus a backrub to get him to relax when she was killed by CIA agents in retaliation for Magneto bringing in a Nazi brought to the Americas under Project Paperclip. Magneto killed the agents of course. She would be briefly mentioned again in Uncanny X-Men #275, when memories of her murder are forced out of Magnus during a power transfer process. While he may not have loved her, he obviously cared about her.
It is too bad Isabelle died so suddenly. Her intelligence, self confidence, and resolve not to be cowed by Magnus' tragic angsting would have made her a good match for such an overbearing personality like his. Though whether he was ready for a relationship while still mourning his wife is highly questionable.
A retconned addition to the Brotherhood, Astra is a dark haired galactic-scale teleporter who first appeared during the Magneto War in which it was revealed that she created Joseph in order to exact revenge on Magneto. Exactly why she was exacting revenge on him was not made entirely clear, though she indicated that at least part of her resentment stemmed from the fact that Magneto had romantically rejected her.
"It was such a joy to see Magnus physically beaten, the way years ago, he had emotionally beaten me...and that was both the saddest and most thrilling part of it, Joey. To watch a man whom I had loathed and loved, respected and feared, for so long, reduced to tearing down a ceiling on his opponents and fleeing." (X-Men Vol. 2 #86)
"Face it, I made you HOT!"
"Do not delude yourself, Astra"
"Okay, maybe it was the other way around..." (Uncanny X-Men #367)
For his part, Magnus referred to her as a "traitor" and his first instinct on seeing her again was to attack her. Toad would see the two arguing as he bounced back in time to the early days of the Brotherhood in X-Men Forever #4, by what caused the final break has not been shown.
Astra is Magneto's opposite in all the worst ways: She is completely amoral and what she does she does for her own personal gain, not for any higher calling. In fact, she repeatedly says that Magneto's political goals "bore" her. While she acts very much the "Queen Bee", she is not a leader. She is mean-spirited, witty with a very modern sarcastic pop-culture twist, and has as much depth as an oil slick. She is also not extremely intelligent. While she is not stupid, her advanced technology is only what she has stolen from aliens and divined how to use on her own, meaning her knowledge of her own equipment is often incomplete.
Magneto's rejection of Astra shows that he has taste and some romantic common sense. However her decades long obsession with ruining him indicates an going conflict that can be mined for many stories.
The next time we see Magneto take a romantic interest in someone, it is Marvel Girl in (Uncanny) X-Men #63. It is the clichéd “Join me and rule by my side” super villain come-on that was immediately rejected in the appropriate (clichéd) manner and is never mentioned again, but his choice is interesting when you look at the two character’s history from a current day perspective.
Both Magneto and Jean handle massive amounts of power that threaten to overwhelm them and drive them mad. Both characters had gone through and lived with death. Both characters have lost their entire family at the hands of others. Both have adult children they had no hand in raising. Both Magneto and Jean have been abandoned by the love of their lives. And both Grant Morrison and Joss Whedon dropped an intriguing hints that Jean Grey might have been as morally “flexible” as her mentor.
Now if she could just get over hating him for her entire adolescence and adult life.
Janet Van Dyne – the Wasp
A one night stand in Secret Wars I #3 so embarrassing to both characters neither one has mentioned it since. And no wonder, he's a super villain and she's a ninny. But this incident is very revealing as to what Magnus' approach to women and sex is like. He assumed that they had a commitment and was shocked and angered to discover Janet's casual attitude towards what they had shared (not that the bio-sting she used in that moment helped). Magnus is not a "love 'em and leave 'em" type.
Magnus’ seduction of Janet was very aggressive, which had never been seen in the character before or since. Fans have reported that Jim Shooter who wrote the series later said that Magneto had accidentally been drugged and was feeling stronger “urges” and less inhibitions than he normally would have. Good. If his approach to women is usually like that, he would be far better off sitting back and letting women throw themselves at him.
Magnus’s seduction was filled with slightly over-the-top-occasionally-to-the-point-of-ham-handed gallantry. While never again as painfully over the top as in Secret Wars I that gallantry was seen again in New Mutants Vol.1 #28 and Marvel Fanfare #24 with Lee, hints of it appear in Excalibur Vol. 3 #5 with Karima, and it is in Joseph when he was pursuing Rogue. So this may be part of how Magnus approaches women he is attracted to. It is not obnoxious, just a little awkward and anachronistic feeling in a modern feminism-jaded era. But then what can you expect from a man, a romantic, born in the 1920’s?
And Janet did say he was “a great kisser.”
Aleytys "Lee" Forrester
Lee, whom Magneto almost always addressed as "Aleytys", was the leggy blonde-haired captain of the fishing trawler Arcadia. She first met Magneto in Uncanny X-Men #149 when she and her lover-at-the-time Cyclops happened to wash up on Magneto’s island as Magnus was enacting a scheme to blackmail the world. She saw him sink a Russian nuclear submarine and create volcanoes. She also heard his manifesto and joined the X-Men in the fight to defeat him.
Later Asteroid M was destroyed by Warlock in New Mutants Vol. 1 #21. Magneto fell out of orbit into the Atlantic where he was rescued by Lee from literally being shark bait in Uncanny X-Men #188. Lee helped Magneto through his recovery while they hid on the same island she met him on (New Mutants Vol. 1 #23 – 29). Despite friction, at one point they literally fell in bed together (New Mutants Vol 1 #26).
The “morning after” Lee had serious doubts, still fixated on Magnus as “Magneto: the Master of Magnetism and Global Terrorist”. Magnus told her of his fears, his past hurt (Magda again) and begged her to reconsider. She soon relented, but just as they reconciled Magneto was called away by Xavier to help fight the Beyonder in Secret Wars II. They were only seen as a couple times together on panel after that. In Uncanny X-Men #196 she accompanies Magnus and the X-Men to lunch and in #199, she accompanied Magnus and Kitty Pryde to a Holocaust memorial where she was kidnapped and replaced by Mystique. In New Mutants Vol. 1 #35, Magnus looks at her picture and reads a letter from her, regretting her absence as he takes over as Headmaster of the New Mutants. And in Marvel Fanfare #33 they were seen getting squidgy all over each other very uncharacteristically in the X-Men’s presence. (The fishing boat captain suddenly becoming Elizabeth Barrett Browning in order to keep up with Magnus natural eloquence.)
That was the last time they were seen on panel together. In Uncanny X-Men #274, Magneto states that “I am pledged to another, as much as one can pledge a heart full of ghosts” while feeling a passing lust for Rogue. We can only assume he means Lee. Finally in Cable #12 Lee says that she and Magneto “drifted apart”, seeming to go their separate ways on good terms.
While looking good on the surface, this pairing was fraught with problems. The first of which was the constant reminders of the fact that Lee was human and Magneto was a mutant. Believe it or not these reminders did not come from Magneto, but from Lee. She did it when they first got together in the New Mutants Vol. 1, she did it again in Marvel Fanfare #33. “Oho. Ashamed to care for a human o’ Champion of Mutantkind, self-styled savior of your people?” (Oh, for Gawd sake Lee. Get over it.) Like Magneto's complete acceptance of his gradaughter Luna's humanity, his relationship with Lee proved that that once someone entered Magneto's emotional orbit, he ceased to think of them in terms of "human" and "mutant".
Then there was the fact that she emotionally could not handle the lifestyle of a superhero. She was strong and brave in her world as a fishing boat captain facing hurricanes and sharks, but superpowers was something she could not deal with and she told Scott that when they saw each other for the last time in Uncanny X-Men #168. “Your world terrifies me Scott. I could never be a part of it. Even, I think, if that meant losing you.” And she was somehow going to be able to handle it better dating Magneto of all people?
Then there’s the “dinner conversation” argument. They had nothing common. When Claremont first pushed the two characters together, he belatedly tried to give Lee an intellectual side making her interested in archeology. However he never developed that part of her after that single mention, and no other writer was interested in exploring that relationship. Just what were they supposed to talk about? Sitting over dinner while he rambles on about politics, physics, philosophy, art, etc., while she tells fish stories?
Honestly, I think the fact that it was a long distance relationship was the reason it lasted as long as it did.
When Magneto and Storm joined the Hellfire Club in New Mutants Vol. 1 #51, Emma Frost set her sights on Magneto as a means of ousting Shaw and tried to seduce him. Over following issues of both New Mutants and Uncanny X-men, she can be seen flattering him and practically throwing herself at him, much to Magneto’s what-the-heck-are-you-doing confusion. In New Mutants Vol. 1 #74 she is seen getting a little touchy feely with him during a discussion, but it unlikely anything ever happened. Magneto never expressed an interest in her, and he was old and wise enough to see through what she was doing.
However, interestingly in the potential future (Earth 9105) the New Warriors entered in the "Forever Yesterday" storyline (New Warriors issues #'s 11-13), a version of Magneto and Emma Frost had become a couple while he and Sebastian Shaw led the Mutant Liberation Front. Little was seen of their relationship dynamics beyond the occasional "my love", but they seemed to be very content with one another. (Surprisingly so given Emma's inherent prickliness.)
Despite the confusion created by Age of Apocalypse and the clone Joseph, there was no affair between Magneto and Rogue in the 616. In the entire time they lived together at Xavier's Scool during Magneto’s Reform Period, they only exchanged words in Marvel Fanfare #33 and X-Men Vs. the Avengers #1 and none of them were personal. In the Savage Land story of Uncanny X-Men #274 and 275, Magnus does feel an attraction for her and she obviously starts to feel something for him, but as noted above he said to himself “I am pledged to another.” Magnus did care about her and envied her faith and naiveté, but that and lust were the extent of his feelings. Many fans believe that there was a “one night stand”, but I am hard pressed to figure out where they found the time in the course of the story.
(Had there been a one night stand, I would also be curious as to how Gambit would have felt in Uncanny X-Men #348 when he discovered that he was not her first. The ensuing conversation would have been very…awkward.
Following Uncanny X-Men #274 & 275, whenever the X-Men and Magneto fought, often Rogue would call on Magnus to stop, claiming they shared something in the Savage Land. His attitude towards her was obviously, “Look, you’re a cute kid, but get out of my way.” While he harbored some vague "another time, another place, perhaps" regrets in X-Men Unlimited #24, he repeatedly turned her down. Oddly the more he turned her down, the more attached she became to the idea of them having a relationship. Each time they met, she would throw herself at him more blatantly, culminating in her girlishly dreaming of Magnus proposing to her in X-Men: Magneto War #1.
The dead horse was finally buried in the Magneto Rex miniseries. After spending years dithering between Gambit and Joseph, Rogue chose Gambit, and then after their first night of passion in which she swore to “love him unconditionally” (Uncanny X-Men #348) she left him to die in Antarctica (Uncanny X-men #350). She then tried to get back into back into Joseph’s good graces. After Joseph died in X-Men Vol. 2 #87, she immediately ran off to Genosha to throw herself at Magnus yet again (Magneto Rex miniseries), comparing him to Joseph (yeah, that’ll work), and discovering (*gasp*shock*) that Magneto had a lot of pain and loss in his life. He kicked her off the island.
While the attraction in the Savage Land story worked very nicely in the context of that story, too much attention was paid to it by later writers. That highly unlikely relationship was a train wreck waiting to happen. Given Rogue’s leaps from Gambit to Joseph to Magneto, she obviously had co-dependency issues and next to an overbearing personality like Magneto, she would have faded into his shadow as she did in Age of Apocalypse. Note that in the initial AoA crossover, the married couple spent most of the cross-over separated. The Age of Apocalypse relationship was extremely creepy to begin with. AoA Magneto was clearly manipulating a teenage girl (barely old enough to be his daughter) into a sexual relationship by showing her that he and only he could touch her while sneaking out from under the man that Magnus knew loved her: Gambit. (X-Men Chronicles #2) Nor did Magnus seem eager to help her touch anyone else, including her own son (X-Men Alpha). Given that she had absorbed Polaris' magnetic abilities permanently, not to mention the fact that mutant power nullification equipment existed (in fact, in the 616 Magneto invented it), finding a solution that allowed Rogue to touch others and thereby make a real choice should have been easy. But he did not, so she did not. After the initial story of Age of Apocalypse was over, Rogue became his housewife while Jean Grey took over as head of the X-Men (Age of Apcalypse limited series). In the Earth-27 reality that spawned Magnus of the Exiles, Rogue seems to have a similar role staying at home while Magneto is away at work.
Writers tried to make a relationship work between Magneto and Rogue work a second time with Joseph, who was originally planned to be Magneto with his memories removed. Unfortunately, his spine was also ripped out. The fans rejected the character and after four years he was quickly written offstage after it was revealed that he was in fact an altered clone of Magneto. The reason Joseph/Magneto had his spine ripped out was to facilitate the constant attempts to tie Joseph to Rogue's hip while Rogue walked all over him. She broke her repeated promises "to tell him about the man he used to be". Then berated and tried to control him when he tried to find out about "his" past on his own. She didn't know him, never trusted him, and yet continued to string him along while she dithered between he and Gambit. There were moments where Joseph was clearly a doormat that were simply painful to read (such as the X-Men Vol. 2 Annual 1995).
If the only way to make that pairing work is to turn one of the characters into something they are not, that means that paring does not work. It also suffers from the “dinner conversation” argument, the two having nothing in common beyond both being mutants. I can only imagine what their home life would have been like.
“Darling, have you seen the latest issue of Zsotologia E Genetica laying about anywhere?”
“Th’ whut an th’ who?”
*sigh* “Never mind.”
“Babe? Ya’ll seen my Bon Jovi CD?”
Amelia is the red-headed nurse and teleporter who used to be Charles Xavier's live-in girlfriend. She left Charles when she realized he was devoting his life to a cause, mutantkind. After a period of time, a series of undefined personal tragedies found Amelia taking up the same cause, but under Magneto's banner. Magneto was aware of Amelia's past connection to Charles (X-Men Flashback #-1), and this perhaps led to a little informality between the two of them. In private, Amelia could question Magneto's intentions and orders and recieve answers rather than stony silences or authoritarian rants. They would even exchange friendly verbal barbs on occasion.
However, there seems to be a number of fans (and apparently a couple of professionals in the reviewing community) who have the misapprehension that Magnus and Amelia had an affair. Sorry folks, but there is nothing in the comics to suggest this. In fact, quite the opposite. In the Magneto miniseries, Exodus tripped up Joseph into revealing that he was not Magneto by fooling him into acting on the idea that Amelia and Magnus were romantically attached. They were not.
Age of Apocalypse aside, Magneto has actually been very good about keeping his hands off his subordinates. He really is not the "maestro-ingénue" type, other than Magda most of the women he has been attracted to were very self-confident and strong. Plus I think he would have a qualm or two about dating Charles' ex-girlfriend.
The only inkling of attraction Magneto showed for the blonde Genoshan representative to the U.N. was in X-Men Unlimited #24. He admired her ambition and survival instincts and thought “I find her exhausting, yet captivating”. A cold, calculating, and ruthless political animal, Huxley was so clearly working her own agenda and ready to undermine him when the moment arose, I doubt he would have been stupid enough to sleep with someone who was so clearly aiming for a target on his back. He went through that sort of thing with Emma after all.
Huxley has not been seen since the Genoshan Massacre, it is assumed that she died in it. He hasn't mentioned her since.
Karima Shapanadar – Omega Sentinel
There isn’t any stated attraction between the two of them. However, Magnus and Charles rescued Karima and freed her from her sentinel programming in Excalibur Vol. 3 #4 and in the following issue Magnus is seen reading Rudyard Kipling’s “Kim” to her at her bedside. Hrm. Recently in X-Men Legacy #209, he got a little touchy with her while having a discussion, something very unusual for him.
Karima is a character that has a ton of untapped potential. Before being kidnapped by Bastion and transformed into an Omega Sentinel, she was police officer in India. As India still experiences a great many gender issues, this is usual and shows a high degree of determination and self-confidence. Perhaps enough to stand up to Magnus when he needs it, and certainly enough not to fall into his shadow. They would also share the experience of being abused and dehumanized by bigots, and it would be very interesting to see her cultural baises and beliefs at play against Magnus' biases and beliefs. However, I would like to see her built up as a character in and of herself before she gets involved with him. (If she gets involved with him.)
Of course, the slashers would love to say that Magnus and Charles had a relationship, their long standing acrimonious friendship being so odd, but there simply is no proof for it on panel in the 616. I do wish the fanficcers well in exploring that as Alara Rogers has in her fine essay here.
The Ultimate Universe is another story. There is so much lovely subtle subtext for a homoerotic relationship between the two of them in the Ultimate Universe the pages practically smolder when they are on panel together.