Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Magneto Testament

This week the concluding issue (#5) of X-Men: Magneto Testament arrived and it was the powerful ending I had expected of this powerful mini-series. Magneto Testament was written by Greg Pak and drawn by Carmine Di Giandomenico and really isn't an X-Men or Magneto story at all, rather it's a Holocaust story that takes place in the Auschwitz concentration camp. I thought it was established that Magneto had been in a concentration camp during WWII in the first X-Men movie, but Pak, in his afterward in this issue, gives credit to writer Chris Claremont, who had made Magneto a Holocaust survivor almost thirty years ago.

Magneto Testament doesn't trivialize the Holocaust at all by having any super powered activity going on which usually accompanies an X-Men story. A couple of aspects of the Holocaust that Pak touches upon in Magneto Testament are the Gypsy Jews and the Jewish people who reluctantly "helped" the Nazis at the camps, who were called Sonderkommando. I'd say that getting the individual issues of Magneto Testament is worth getting, but there will be a really nice collection forthcoming that will have endnotes providing more context for things that happened within the series and during that horrible time in history.

There's an especially fascinating six page story (illustrated by comic giants Neal Adams and Joe Kubert) called "The Last Outrage" which details the story of Dina Babbitt, who as a young artist at Theresenstadt (a camp which the Nazis imprisoned Jews within that wasn't what the other concentration camps to show the rest of the world that they weren't treating thei prisoners inhumanly), painted portraits and did art to lift the spirits of the other kids there. Years ago it was discovered that some of her portrait originals are in a Polish museum and she has been trying to get them back. This story is worth the price of Magneto Testament #5 alone. Please visit www.dinababbitt.com for more info about Dina's plight (and a photo of her and one of her portraits) as written by her daughters and grandchildren.

1 comment:

Rivka said...

Nice review. Magneto Testament was a wonderful series, a major achievement for Marvel. I do disagree with you a bit, in that, this is indeed the specific story of the young Magneto. Much of what was in Magneto Testament was already established as Magneto's specific history. This isn't the story of any boy named "Max," but the particular story of Magneto in his youth, as already revealed in many comics over the years.

Most especially, it is the foundation of the love story of Magneto (Max) and Magda, a woman who was his entire life. When Magneto lost Magda, his entire life fell apart. He searched for her and mourned her for years and years, and never forgot her.

I thought this was a perfect example of how to write a historically-grounded origin story for a super hero character. Greg Pak and Carmine Di Giandomenico walked the line perfectly, showing us the subtle expressions of Magneto's powers (matching what we know from comic book continuity) but focusing mainly on the psychological and historical reasons for why Max Eisenhardt became Magneto.

I am looking forward to the graphic novel version. I'm hoping more people will read it in May, when the collected series is published!

Nice review, though. I hope more people will review this series and let Marvel know how much they enjoyed it.

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