The X-Men are defined by the changing nature of humanity, so it makes sense that over the decades their relationship with their first foe, Magneto, would evolve. At various points in Marvel's history, Magneto has been both the X-Men's most bitter enemy and staunchest ally. For the past several years, he's been the latter, but in recent issues of X-Men Blue, Magneto found that his agenda no longer aligned with the defenders of Charles Xavier's dream. As a result, he is once again their adversary -- and a foe to all who would oppress mutantkind.
In X-Men Black: Magneto, legendary X-writer Chris Claremont and artist Dalibor Talajić chronicle the first offensive in their title character's new crusade against mutant oppression. CBR spoke with the creators about their story which pits Magneto against the forces of the Office of National Emergency and Claremont's history with, and sense of the character.
CBR: Chris, how does it feel to come back to Magneto? What is it that makes him such an interesting character to return to after you spent so many years writing him?
Chris Claremont: As with any good dramatic character he's a font of conflict.
I don't subscribe to the theory that there are heroes and villains, even though in the production template of the day you have the X-Men on one side and the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants on the other. It's easy marketing to run around with a label that says, “Hi, we're the bad guys.” But as a dramatist, it makes no sense. So when I first started writing Magneto, I started asking things like, “Where does he come from? Who was he? Why is he doing what he's doing? And when did this all begin?”
For me, the beginning of his story was answering the questions, “Why is he such a passionate supporter of mutant rights? Was he oppressed?” Bear in mind, I was trying to figure out the formative elements of Magneto's life back in the late '70s. There's an obvious one 25 years earlier in World War II. Magneto is in his late middle age at this point, so I assumed he was an adolescent during the War. What would have defined him? The Holocaust. And from that point on, everything just flowed naturally.
My goal over the subsequent 15 odd years of writing him was to figure what makes him tick? Why it makes him tick, and what happens next? And what I kept coming back to was the question of does he see himself as a villain? And the answer was no. He sees himself as a hero. It's just that he sees baseline humanity the potential villain; the oppressive state. They're the Neanderthal to his Cro-Magnon. He's the next step in evolution, and baseline humanity has to get out of the way.