Saturday, November 3, 2012

Just Call Him Iron Man

Try not to strain your mind too much while perusing this

Marvel Trivia Question

What ability does Magneto possess that was used once and never mentioned again?

I'll let his friend and foe, Charles Xavier, give you a clue:

You can almost feel him compelling you to read further...

Continuing to pursue a scheme that involved experiments he was conducting which were foiled by Black Bolt and the Inhumans, Magneto decided to kidnap the country's top atomic energy scientists and probe them for information he needed to unleash that power on the entire populace--the radiation of which would weed out the human population and turn those who didn't perish into mutants who would fall under his command. They don't call Magneto a madman for nothing, do they?

For this kind of scheme, Magneto would normally round up and employ his evil mutant minions; but this time, he decides to bring the X-Men under his control and use them, instead. And when the Avengers interrupt him while he's carrying out that plan, he also decides to kidnap a few of them and use them in the same way. As to how he's able to bring members of both teams under his control and escape, I'll let the Piper--Magneto's mutant aide and counsel--make that revelation in a word balloon that graces the splash page of one of the issues of the story:

So now, in addition to his formidable magnetic abilities, Magneto can now control the actions and will of either human or mutant. And here's how:

If you're scratching your head wondering how being able to control the level of consciousness of your victim puts you in control of their actions and makes them your slaves, join the club. What Magneto's describing seems to be just a quick way to make his enemies pass out or otherwise keep them on the verge of doing so--not a way to make them succumb to his commands. But here he can make the scientists divulge information--he can send the Avengers and X-Men he's captured into battle--he can even make the Scarlet Witch dance for his entertainment.

To make a long story short, Magneto was well on his way to defeating the rest of the Avengers and implementing his plan; but the Vision, who had infiltrated Magneto's base by taking control of the Piper (by slipping within his body and solidifying his own brain just enough to direct the Piper's movements), crept up behind Magneto and knocked him out.

And as far as Magneto's history is concerned, that was the end of this new ability.

Tell me: does Magneto seem like the type of villain who would stop using a power that gives him such a tactical advantage?

Nevertheless, what Marvel giveth, Marvel snatcheth away. After all, Magneto is nearly unstoppable in his own right--they certainly don't need to stack the deck with him. When he popped up next, it was in an encounter with the Defenders, where he made use of advanced equipment he discovered beneath the Earth to create the "mutant" Alpha in order to force the United Nations to cede the rule of Earth's nations to mutants. Alpha eventually saw through Magneto's duplicity and, as most followers of Magneto's history are aware of, reverted Magneto and his mutant cohorts to infants before departing Earth for the stars. Nowhere in that story was there any mention of Magneto's ability to control minds--it was as if the events of the Avengers story never happened. A preposterous suggestion, since the newer story offers a flashback of Thor imprisoning Magneto after his encounter with the Avengers.

Once Magneto is restored to adulthood by Eric the Red and later launches an attack against the X-Men in his Antarctic base, his reappearance causes enough of a stir that readers probably shrugged off his mind-controlling abilities in the Avengers story. Writer Chris Claremont certainly (and conspicuously) dropped enough references to Magneto's return to his full power to effectively convince us that the character was unquestionably a power in his own right, who didn't need gimmicks to aggressively and effectively take on his enemies. And I think everyone's pretty much on board with that. Well, everyone except possibly the Piper. Of course, we haven't seen or heard of him since his appearance in the Avengers story. It's a good bet he's been piped out of Marvel for good--possibly by the Avengers, who probably don't want him whispering any forgotten facts in his master's ear anytime soon.


Murray said...

And where are the astral forms??

I recall a very early X-Men where Xavier and Magneto independently and simultaneously think the Sub-Mariner might be a mutant and both try to recruit him. Magneto stretches out on a couch and "the second most powerful mutant mind on the planet" sends his astral form below the waves.

Magneto's overt psionics sure disappeared fast.

dbutler16 said...

Just as well that this power of Magneto's was short lived. What issue is this from?

And isn't that a neat trick by the Vision to enter the Piper's body and manipulate him that way? Has that trick ever been used again? That also seems like something just as well forgotten.

Comicsfan said...

dbutler, Magneto's power over minds manifested in Avengers #111. As for the Vision's taking control of the Piper, I don't recall seeing him pull that particular trick again. (Frankly, I can't imagine how he pulled it this time!)

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