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!
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