Thursday, 29 November 2012

New Mutants #35: Radically Different Than The Old Boss

The New Mutants return from Asgard to the school only to find their new headmaster, Magneto, in charge in New Mutants #35. Well, I suppose he must have caught the flight back with them, only to have told them on arrival.

They are suspicious. Well, you would be, wouldn't you? Bobby points out that this isn't really any better than, say, Emma Frost taking over their tuition. And Magneto is really starting to wonder about what he's let himself in for.

Fortunately for him (but less so for Dani), he soon gets the opportunity to prove his worth to his charges. When Dani arrives back having nearly been assaulted (we don't really have to read between the lines to deduce that's it's an attempted rape), Magneto goes looking for the perpetrators, and here demonstrates the difference between him and Xavier.

Professor X would have mindwiped them, or something. Magneto just puts the fear of Magneto into them, and they decide that confessing to the police would be a really good idea.

This is some good character development: Magneto is protective of the children, which is entirely in line with his revelation in #150, but useless at management or leadership skills (he's been a solo villain since the break-up of the original Brotherhood in the 1960s, and he was a fairly imperious and ineffective leader of that). Here, he learns that he needs to be loyal for the kids for them to be loyal to him - an important step forward, which combined with his missing of Lee make him appear to be an actual rounded person. Please don't screw this up, Magnus. But I question the point of having a story with an attempted rape and then somehow making it all about a man. Can we not find something less gratuitous?

1 comment:

  1. Good point about the character development. I couldn't see past the attempted rape, really. It's not just that it's rape plot that's about a man, but that it's about a white guy who proves he's a hero by announcing HE knows how to deal with would-be rapists without enquiring into the thoughts and feelings of the Native American girl who was actually the intended target of the crime.

    On top of that, you have the problem that Magneto's plan only actually works out because the criminals themselves decide to turn themselves in. If they hadn't, there's three known would-be rapists out in the community, and we're supposed to believe Mags will be keeping track of them at all times? How is that supposed to be workable? Maybe next time they try something, he'll be busy elsewhere. Maybe they'll go after someone who isn't a mutant and all of a sudden his righteous indignation isn't quite so pronounced.

    All this is is a delaying tactic so that Magneto can feel good about not involving any potentially mutant-hating cops, and so that the team can feel good about the fact that he might kill Russian chefs on submarines or transients in Siberian cities (there is quite simply no way Varykino was fully evacuated), but not violent would-be-rapists. I mean, you have to draw the line somewhere...

    (More generally, I think this is evidence of how unsatisfying Claremont's early attempts at rehabilitating Mags actually were. His pretty speeches in UXM #150 aside, it mainly involved pointing out that at least he hates the Nazis, and at least he hates rapists. These bars are not so much low as subterranean.)