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Magneto is Making America Great (For Marvel Mutants)

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Warning: SPOILERS For X-Men: Black - Magneto #1

A new X-Men special sees Magneto rescuing captive children, separated from their families and shipped off to an American internment camp. This story by the legendary Chris Claremont, who has done more to shape the X-Men mythology than anyone besides Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, is notable not only for how it parallels certain current events but also for how it affirms Magneto's status as an anti-hero rather than a true villain.

A recent issue of X-Men: Blue seemed to suggest that Magneto had returned to his previous, wicked ways. The story revealed that Magneto had established a new Brotherhood of Mutants - the organization he once founded to stand against the ideals of peaceful mutant/human coexistence favored by his friend Charles Xavier. Magneto also constructed a new Asteroid M - the space-base which he built to act as a Mutant homeland and sanctuary. However, it may be possible that Magneto has reestablished the old order with a new goal.

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As X-Men: Black - Magneto opens, Magneto is in a most unlikely place: a roadside restaurant in Texas, called The Gold Star Diner. It is here that he strikes up a conversation with a young girl named Kate as she admires his sketches, and they talk about the symbolic meaning of the gold star. For both of them it is a symbol of the fallen, though for Kate it is a reminder of her soldier mother... and for Magneto, it is a reminder of The Holocaust.

Tensions mount in the diner as a news report mentions a new detention center being operated by the government group O.N.E. (Office of National Emergency), a temporary housing facility for mutant children who have been taken away from their parents. Kate and Magneto are the only ones who don't react positively to the news, with Kate throwing herself between Magneto and some of the angrier locals when violence seems imminent. Still, Magneto is touched by Kate's reasoning for being against the O.N.E. camp being the simple belief that no child should be separated from their family, whether they are Mutant, Native, Japanese, or any other minorities previously locked up for being "dangerous." Magneto leaves the diner without incident, telling Kate that her kind heart does her and her mother credit before wishing her well.

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Unsurprisingly, it turns out that Magneto's reason for traveling to Texas was to free the mutant children in the camp. Though he comes ready for a fight, his recent talk with Kate about the sacrifices of soldiers does inspire Magneto to show mercy to the O.N.E. agents who stand against him, disarming them without killing them. He is further inspired by another young man among the children he wishes to free, who refuses Magneto's offer to flee and join him in safety on Asteroid M.

The young man's reasoning would make even Captain America proud, saying that they can't abandon their country to those who represent everything America is meant to stand against. That point has to be conceded by Magneto, who then delivers an ominous threat to the O.N.E. reinforcements, advising them to "help make the magnificent dream of this land a reality, or face the consequences."

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While this X-Men story will doubtlessly aggravate the vocal minority that feel comics should avoid 'politics,' the fact remains that this story fits firmly in line with classics like God Loves, Man Kills or Testament, which were also built around the idea that people who are different have a right to exist. It remains to be seen if Magneto's noble streak will continue. But few can deny that, for today at least, Magneto is a hero.

X-Men: Black - Magneto #1 is now available from Marvel Comics.

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