The Magneto Fiction Hall Of Shame
Ever read a story featuring Magneto, and think to yourself, "Where did this person learn to write, off the back of a Cracker Jack box?" I gotta confess, I feel this way often while reading the professional stuff done by Marvel Comics. I mean, the Magneto limited series. What was up with that?
But sometimes an abysmal piece of fanfic turns up too. The kind of fanfic that makes you wonder "did this writer ever read an issue with Magneto in it?" Often I see these abysmal fanfics in the genre of Rogue'n'Remy stories. That is, because it has been established that one potential obstacle to the romantic bliss of Rogue and Remy is the existence of Rogue's attraction to Magneto and/or Joseph, the writer has to get him out of the picture. But she doesn't just have him fall in love with someone else, or give up Rogue for her own good, or even go insane and try to conquer the world, no. (Most fanfic writers are female, so I use "she" as a generic here. It doesn't mean men can't write really horrible Magneto stories.) No, she has to utterly drag him through the mud, in ways that are really, really ludicrous for Magneto. I could buy Rogue leaving Magneto because he went insane and tried to conquer the world, but having him play Peeping Tom? Come on.
This page is dedicated to the absolute worst of Magneto fiction, the stuff to avoid at all costs (or at least, avoid paying for!) Submissions (that is, you send me a capsule review of a really bad Magneto story) are welcomed at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Marvel Screws Up
So what else is new? Marvel has never been of one mind what they want to do with Magneto. As early as the days when Claremont was first talking about reforming the character and giving him a sympathetic backstory, some of the Powers That Be had problems with it. Nowadays there seems to be a consensus at Marvel that Magneto has to be, ultimately, a villain-- which would be fine with me if they did it well, but they don't.
Of course, bad Magneto stories at Marvel aren't limited to the ones where he's a villain. They can screw up Magneto just as abysmally when he's supposed to be a hero, too.
Some of the top picks for terrible Magneto stories:
The Magneto limited series. You wouldn't think you could go wrong with a story by Peter Milligan, drawn by Kelley Jones, could you? Well, you could. Milligan (who was plotter, not scripter) clearly knows next to nothing about Magneto's career in toto, as in this story (where Joseph goes on a quest to find his past, and nearly loses his sanity) Magneto's history is portrayed as that of a one-dimensional evil ranting maniac, at least until issue #4 when someone with a brain finally takes Joseph aside and has a talk with him. The story makes very little sense, a lot of the characterization is way off, idiot plot abounds, and the art is truly, truly awful. Don't buy this. Read it in a store if you must.
A Magneto fan says of this series, "After FA, I would say that the Magneto LS sucks the most. Not only was there no point to it, but the writer constantly made Magneto look like Mephisto's younger, crazier brother. Which he basically was in 304, but it sounded like he led his whole life as a psycho." -- James Geyer
UXM #304. The crowning achievement of the Fatal Attractions storyline is to make Magneto into a ranting maniac. Here's what some fans on the Magneto Mailing List recently had to say about this issue:
"Magneto crashes Illyana's funeral to try to recruit the X-Men to his cause, rants about killing humans in retribution for the Legacy virus, says that he stands behind the psychotic behavior of his Acolytes but then kills Senyaka anyway (without any mention of the fact that Senyaka killed a human friend of his), turns out to be immune to Rogue (would have been awfully useful, way back when...), and has obviously gone stark raving bonkers. However, does Xavier notice that his old friend has gone stark raving bonkers, and want to help him regain his sanity? Nooo. He just decides 'Magneto is evil and must be stopped.' An abysmal showing for all." -- Alara Rogers
"This was an awful, awful issue in so many respects. Not only with Magnus' crashing 'Yana's funeral. I am so sure. One of the best issues of New Mutants was Magnus and Illyana bonding over the fact that they were both supposed to be evil but they were still fighting for good despite what others thought. And what was it about everyone showing up to Illyana's funeral in uniform looking for all the world like they're about to go on a mission? Is that a complete lack of respect or what? Abysmal all around, indeed." -- Dandelion
AOA: X-Chronicles #2: I actually rather like this story, but Faith Barnett votes it one of the all time worst. Here's why:
"...in the above mentioned story, he lies to Gambit who trusts him about being able to help Rogue touch anyone when it only turns out to be himself, accepts Rogue as a near surrogate daughter but the minute she turns legal age and hints she might feel something more for him is instantly showing her that she can touch only him, and as her guardian generally gives her no chance to grow and really decide to be with him. You know, the whole let them go and if they come back to you truth. All the while Marvel tries to write it like the older intelligent adult male he use to be is either so stupid and/or self-absorbed he doesn't even realize what he's doing nor is he sorry about it if he did. He came across as a pretty sick and controlling father-figure/can't wait to get in her pants/using his position over her to keep himself the complete center of her entire universe, piece of lying scum. Now I wonder why any of the young readers would think he'd do such a thing and write it in their stories?
"I was so disgusted with Marvel for that story. It turned Magneto into a character I wouldn't let a teenage daughter of mine anywhere near unless I fixed him first. Up until then he had his good and bad points in the AoA which was solid Magneto and what I like about the character but that story really ruined him."
The Fan Writers Screw Up
This is the part you were really waiting for, right? The part where I ruthlessly mock bad fanfic. :-)
For obvious reasons, I can't get hypertext links to these pages up. So what I'll do instead is refer you to a resource that links to them, and tell you how to get there from here. I am also not going to list the author's names, as it's not really fair for authors to be painted as awful people because they wrote an awful fanfic. Take this as advice on what not to do with your fanfic.
"The Window Spy": This story appears to have vanished... which frankly may be just as well. It was originally on the page "Rogue's Homepage" (not "The Heart of a Rogue"), which has disappeared. The plot is simple: Rogue is getting dressed, when she realizes she is being spied upon, and she realizes that Joseph is peeping in her window. She then proceeds to beat him to a pulp while he alternately acts whiny and arrogant. Gambit shows up, and Rogue belts him around too for no very good reason.
Quite aside from the fact that the characterization is totally wrong-- Joseph is enough like Magneto that, hard up for it or no, he would not be spying on Rogue dressing-- I find this basic concept horribly offensive. This story basically says "If you are a woman, and a man is spying on you getting dressed, you are justified in using near-lethal violence on him." It also says "Women have the right to beat up anyone who annoys them." The pretext for which Rogue smacked Gambit around was so thin I don't even remember what it was; something like him not telling her that Joseph was outside her window. The point, to me, is that Rogue is super-strong. If she ever uses that power outside of a superhero battle, it damn well better be a life or death situation. Rogue is portrayed as a violent, abusive bitch, but the story sympathizes with her and says it's okay to be a violent, abusive bitch. Mind you, Joseph is an asshole in this story and probably deserves severe public humiliation, but Rogue actually leaves him in a bloody, broken heap.
This story probably stems from a very unfortunate issue of the comics, in which Gambit accuses Joseph of spying on Rogue in behavior that clearly came out of the heavy manga influence on the books at the time, as this is the sort of situation that fourteen-year-old Japanese kids find hilarious. And mind you, for fourteen-year-old Japanese kids it might be in character, but for people who are at least 20 it never made any sense at all. However, as the comic made it fairly clear that it was Gambit's dirty mind leading to the conclusion that Joseph was peeping in on Rogue, and not actually Joseph's behavior, that's no excuse for this story.
"The Finale": The next story can be reached through Kielle's page, since I'd feel bad linking to the guy's archive just to diss one of the stories he's got on it. The story isn't by the archivist. If you go to Kielle's X-Book Archives P-Z page, you will find the entry for the Xavier Files. Go there, go to the fanfic, and check out (if you dare) The Finale.
The plot, such as it is: Rogue is about to get married to Magneto, and Remy is depressed. Then suddenly, Rogue spontaneously decides she loves Remy. Magneto does not take this well, and gets into several vicious fights with Rogue. Meanwhile Remy is being tormented by Belladonna's sister, who's doing such things as claiming that the child she is pregnant with is Remy's, then claiming that he tried to force her to abort it (and the team believes her, despite the fact that she came out of nowhere, has not proven herself trustworthy, and in fact has been discovered to be infecting Remy with a virus.)
How can I describe the ways this story is bad? Firstly, the story is formatted horribly. Half the time the quotes have been replaced with funky characters like i's with diacrictic marks. Secondly, the editorializing by the author on Magneto's personality is really irritating. (At one point Remy has a disease, Magneto -- who is inconsistently referred to as Magnus, Erik or even Joseph-- asks if it's contagious, and the author adds the aside, "obviously worried that he might get it too. Coward." Um, since when?) Magneto's speech patterns are way off (he does not refer to people as "stupid assholes"), and his behavior is positively silly. After he loses Rogue to Remy, he has a fight with her, then tries several times to beg his way back into her affections, and when this fails teams up with Belladonna's sister to kidnap Remy. As if! The rest of the team is equally bad, accepting as gospel the word of a woman who has been discovered to have been infecting Remy with a virus that he forcibly aborted her child. Rogue is an idiot, agreeing to marry Magneto while she's still in love with Gambit, then suddenly remembering that she's in love with Gambit and calling it off. I love the notion that it's perfectly okay to make serious marriage plans with a man and then decide, out of nowhere, to change your mind, and he would have no right to be upset with you for this. Gambit is the only person halfway in character, and of course no mention is ever made of his dark past or his secrets or his manipulativeness-- he's entirely a victim pushed around by the forces of stupidity the author has marshaled against him. Definitely a story to avoid, even if you are a big fan of Rogue'n'Remy.
"One Friend" actually used to be in the main archive, as I thought that the truly terrible punctuation, spelling, formatting and grammar might be forgiveable for the sake of the core idea, which was that Joseph and Marrow, both as team outsiders, would form a friendship on that basis. The story is available at Shifting Sands.
Unlike "The Window Spy" or "The Finale", One Friend had a good idea. Too bad it didn't follow up. The plot is that an angel has taken over Psylocke's body to try to make life better for Marrow and Joseph, only she keeps screwing things up, and in the end turns out to be working for Apocalypse (which makes rather little sense, as she's supposed to be an angel...) Joseph isn't egregiously out of character, but Storm is-- the story utterly demonizes Ororo, setting up Marrow as Ororo's poor misunderstood victim. There's a flashback scene where Storm beats the small child Sarah for being ugly. Um, no. I like the fact that Joseph defends Sarah against Storm despite the opinions of the team, but, well, it's kind of hard to get past the fact that this version of Storm doesn't bear any resemblance to the real one. Still, I wouldn't have ended up putting it in the Hall of Shame if not that the ending meanders and dribbles away into pointlessness.
"April Xavier: Where Your Road Leads" is another one available at Shifting Sands, and another one that's tragic because there's a core of a decent idea in there. April Xavier, introduced in "April Xavier: My Star", which is actually an okay story, is Charles Xavier's daughter, and believes that her father doesn't love her. A good concept, there. However, instead of exploring April's relationship with her father, her feelings of worthlessness, her history (Charles has a daughter?) and her interactions with the people who worship the father she fears despises her, the author chooses to have her kidnapped by Magneto, who is alternately referred to as Joseph seemingly at random. Magneto was shamming, ya see. He was always a bad guy, just faking it. And he proceeds to have his Acolytes brutally torture and rape Charles Xavier's daughter in the course of trying to brainwash her, and at this point my sense of disbelief went splat. Magneto doesn't have people raped. It is possible he'd try to brainwash Charles Xavier's daughter, but it makes far more sense that he'd do so with mind control than by handing her over to his Acolytes. I also gotta wonder why so many fan writers seemed to think Magneto was shamming-- I mean come on, Magneto couldn't pull off an act like that to save his life.
"The Herald of Armageddon" was also on the main site for a while because the concept was good. Xavier callously abandons Magneto to die by, after frying his brain, taking over his body and using his powers to throw Avalon out of Earth's orbit, to fly through space. Magneto is rescued by Galactus, who gives him the Power Cosmic and asks him to be his new herald. Magneto is agreeable and promptly asks for time off to go home and settle some old debts, and Galactus gives permission. Thus, a seriously pissed off and extremely insane Magneto turns up on Earth and starts making everyone's life hell. And the story would have been just fine if this had actually been what it was about.
Instead, what it's about is sex. A great deal of graphically described, unrelated-to-the-plot, quite pointless sex. Now me, I like sex in stories. I believe sex is a part of the human experience, and it's absurd to assume that superheroes wouldn't have sex. But the sex is very stereotypically pornographic-- everyone apparently gets off on talking dirty to their loved ones, threesomes with two women and one man abound, there's a lot of orgiastic stuff, and there's a villain who's unrelated to the main plot engineering various sexual mind control scenarios, including a disturbing supposed fantasy of Emma Frost's where she's gang-raped by Magneto, Shaw and Banshee. Fortunately this is the closest Magneto gets to getting laid in this story, because he's so violent and evil and the sex is so over the top and pointless that I'm not sure the author wouldn't have had the real Magneto raping people if it would suit his plot. Very little of the sex is in the slightest realistic, or even realistic-for-superheroes (I can take characters with superhuman endurance and antigrav breasts, because they're superheroes-- but Marvel mutants don't drop into bed with people for no good reason.) This story can be reached at The Definitive X-Men Erotica Archive, where there is also a lot of stuff that's better than this.