Welcome to the five hundred and fifty-eighth in a series of examinations of comic book legends and whether they are true or false. Click here for an archive of the first five hundred (I actually haven’t been able to update it in a while). This week, who was the mysterious X-Man known as Joseph supposed to be originally – Magneto, a clone of Magneto, Proteus or something else entirely? How did The Walking Dead start with a whopper of a lie? And more fun with cartoons and Nazis!
NOTE: The column is on three pages, a page for each legend. There’s a little “next” button on the top of the page and the bottom of the page to take you to the next page (and you can navigate between each page by just clicking on the little 1, 2 and 3 on the top and the bottom, as well).
COMIC LEGEND: Scott Lobdell originally intended for Joseph to be revealed to be Proteus.
Last year, reader Manolis V. wrote to me about Joseph, the mysterious X-Man who debuted in Uncanny X-Men #327 as seemingly a de-aged Magneto with amnesia.
[Another] secret from the run was the identity of the de-aged amnesiac Magneto, Joseph. Lobdell was always planning on revealing Joseph was in reality… a resurrected (and amnesiac) Proteus. He had seeded this reveal through some small moments like Joseph having a violent reaction to seeing a photo of Moira McTaggert. Unfortunately…he was kicked off the book (and company) before he could get to his reveal.
I could have sworn that someone else suggested this same topic, but I can’t find anything in my notes or on the blog, so perhaps I was just thinking of Manolis’ message? I dunno. If someone else wrote it about it, feel free to leave a comment saying so.
Anyhow, to set the scene, we have the famous X-Men #25 (by Fabian Nicieza, Andy Kubert and Matt Ryan), where Professor X wipes Magneto’s mind….
In Uncanny X-Men #315, we see the comatose Magneto…
In X-Men #43, Magneto’s space station is destroyed and Colossus escapes with Magneto, but they are separated from each other on the way down to Earth…
This brings us to Uncanny X-Men #327 (by Scott Lobdell and Roger Cruz)…
Joseph ends up making his way to the X-Men, where he joins the team and gets into a love triangle with Rogue and Gambit. Uncanny X-Men #341 (by Lobdell and Joe Madureira) has perhaps the most notable Rogue/Joseph moment…
Eventually, in Uncanny X-Men #350, the real Magneto shows up, so Joseph couldn’t be Magneto. So was he intended to be Proteus?
No, but sort of.
ORIGINALLY, it was simple – this was a de-aged Magneto with amensia.
Scott Lobdell wrote about the story in 1996 on AOL in a compelling essay about fan reaction on the internet (imagine what he would think of the internet two decades later!):
What is the reason for examining MAGNETO as JOSEPH? Because I think it provides us (us meaning the writers, readers, and X-Men) [the opportunity] to examine the issues of nature vs. nurture within a character who is arguably one of the most intriguing and conflicted in comic literature. Some people look at Sabretooth and say ‘He’s a killer, pure and simple.’ Those same people look at MAGNETO and say ‘Yes, he is a villain by definition of the things he’s done — but we understand why he’s done them because of his past.’ This begs the question ‘What if he had the chance to do it again — without the past?’ Would he look at the world around him — the approaching horror of the future — and make the same decisions? Or would he try to go in another direction? People genuinely argue that the difference between XAVIER and MAGNETO are the routes they take to accomplish the same goal — is that true? For years, after Magda and Anna died, he lived a very solitary existence — hell, it can probably be argued that except for an occasional tryst with LEE FORESTER, or hanging for a brief time with the Brotherhood or his fostership of the New Mutants — he has almost ALWAYS been alone. What if that were to change? What if he were to find comrades, people that care for him, people that he cares for? The only friendship I can think of off the top of my head is his PAST relationship with Charles…what if he develops friendships with ROGUE, with GAMBIT? (And don’t hold his brief lusting for ROGUE in the Savage Land up as an example…I’m talking long term relationships).
That’s what I think. And the fact that this is ONE MORE CHAPTER in the life of MAGNETO and his relationship with the X-MEN is, I think, pretty interesting. The fact that it won’t automatically be changed because some people say ‘This sucks,’ doesn’t mean I/we don’t take into account readers opinions on things — it just means that we’ve got stories we feel can be exciting and interesting and we know where they’re heading.
So yeah, Joseph WAS Magneto.
However, eventually, Lobdell (perhaps on his own or perhaps with some editor input) decided to bring back the original Magneto, at which point he then shifted to the idea that Joseph was going to be revealed to be Proteus. That never happened either, and eventually Joseph was revealed to be a clone of Magneto.
But originally, Joseph was Magneto, not Proteus.
Heck, just look at the title of the story in Uncanny X-Men #327!!
Thanks to Manolis for the question and thanks to Scott Lobdell for the information!
Check out some recent entertainment and sports legends from Legends Revealed:
On the next page, learn how The Walking Dead was launched on the back of one whopper of a lie!
COMIC LEGEND: Robert Kirkman lied to Image about what The Walking Dead was about to get the series approved.
Robert Kirkman was already pretty established at Image Comics before he started on The Walking Dead, as he had done a couple of projects before launching Invincible in early 2003. So Invincible was already nearly a year in before The Walking Dead launched, and Invincible was very well received at the time. But it wasn’t like it was some runaway hit, though, so Kirkman still had trouble getting The Walking Dead approved by Image.
So much so that he had to come up with a rather big lie to get the book through.
When I pitched the Walking Dead to Image, Jim Valentino and Eric Stephenson were running the company, and they both felt that the Walking Dead as a straight zombie book didn’t have enough of a hook to it. So they came back and said, “Look, nobody is going to want a straight zombie book, there’s not anything special about it, it’s just a bunch of guys living in a world infested by zombies, and we don’t think that’s interesting enough, and we want you to add something else to it to entice the readers and blah blah blah.” Which they often do. They’ll say “Well, we like this concept, but we don’t think it has enough.” And that’s perfectly fine. They’re a publisher and they can do that. But I disagreed with them a bit.
And so I had done a few books with them, so I felt comfortable doing this – I basically just lied to them and said, “Well look, this is how it’s going to be: The whole book is going to be as I pitched it, but as the issues progress, eventually I’m going to reveal that it was actually aliens who caused the zombie uprising. And it’s going to be leading to this big battle between the humans and the aliens, and the aliens did this to kind of weaken the humans’ military forces, and eventually it’s going to be this big alien invasion.” And so they said, “Oh yeah, that sounds sweet! Let’s do that.” And so they approved the book based on that.
And then when it came out, Eric Stephenson was reading the first issue, and he said, “So I read the issue, and it was really cool, but I didn’t see any hints to what the alien invasion stuff is. Did you hint anything about that? Was there something I didn’t notice? What’s going on?” And I said, “Oh well, I gotta be honest with you&#Array;that stuff’s not going to happen. I was kind of fibbing a little bit, and I really just want to do a straight zombie book.” And at this point, the book was being pretty well received and there was a lot of buzz about it. So Eric wrote back something like, “Well that’s good, because I was kind of reading the book thinking, hey he might ruin this by putting aliens in it.”
That’s pretty amazing.
What I really appreciate, though, is that Kirkman is very aware of how the story plays in the sense that it does a bit of a disservice to a great guy like Jim Valentino, and Kirkman addressed that with Phillips:
So it’s a funny story, and that’s pretty much how it happened, but it kind of doesn’t make Jim Valentino look too good. It’s a funny little anecdote that people like to hear and everything, but I think when it appeared in the Image book, Jim Valetino wasn’t too thrilled. It’s not like he was angry with me or anything, but it kind of does him a disservice, because Jim Valentino was a very strong force early on in my career. He had given me advice on other things that greatly helped my books. For instance, the Nolan reveal in Invincible. My original plan was for that to not happen until issue twenty-five, and when I was talking about the book, Jim Valentino was there, and he said, “You know you really need to move that up, or this book might not last until twenty-five. That’s the kind of thing this book might need. You need to shake things up and keep people interested in the book.” So I moved the tease up to issue seven and the reveal up to issue twelve. And I would say that at the same time when he was kind of hindering the birth of the Walking Dead, he was saving Invincible. I feel bad telling that story because, like I said, it does Jim a disservice.
Valentino, by the way, recalled later that he didn’t think that Kirkman explained the series well enough the first time:
If he would have told me what it was really about, I would have said, ‘Dude, that’s great, let’s [do it].’ But he didn’t, so at first I was really reluctant to do it.
Anyhow, Kirkman made fun of the alien concept in the Walking Dead #75, where he has an unconscious Rick hallucinate about the alien version of the story…
Thanks to Dan Phillips and Robert Kirkman for the information!
Check out my latest TV Legends Revealed at Spinoff Online: Was Viacom once sued by a video game company for ruining the Star Trek franchise?
On the next page, did a 1960s Captain America cartoon retell the Red Skull’s origin only with Hitler being edited out of the tale?
Recently, we’ve had a few legends dealing with how Marvel is able to depict Nazis in their products, and the main thing is how their animated projects are particularly unwilling to show Nazi symbolism or the depiction of Hitler.
Richard M. wrote in with a particularly amusing example of this from the 1966 Captain America cartoon series.
Now, those old cartoons were done by basically just animating the actual art from Marvel comics of the period, and yet, in the episode which adapted Tales of Suspense #66, the origin of the Red Skull…
all Nazi references were scrubbed and Hitler was redrawn as “The Leader.” Heck, even the edited Leader wasn’t drawn consistently!
Those are both from the SAME scene!
Thanks to Richard for the head’s up about this.
You can watch it here…
Okay, that’s it for this week!
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