Celebrating 60 years of Magneto with writer J.M. DeMatteis

Magneto in action.
(Image credit: Marvel Comics)

In Marvel's current continuity, Magneto is dead, having been mortally wounded by Uranos. Still, you can't keep a sometimes good - if morally conflicted - mutant down. 2023 marks the character's 60th birthday and it's only right that the publisher pay tribute to one of the most fascinating characters in comics.

This August sees the launch of a new four-issue limited series by J.M. DeMatteis and Todd Nauck. Set during the time of his life when Magneto was acting as mentor to the New Mutants, it finds this most complex of men confronting both his past and present while also looking to the future. 

We spoke to writer J.M. DeMatteis, who explains why the character was so appealing to him. But first, check out a preview of Todd Nauck's work on the first issue, followed by his cover for Magneto #2.

Newsarama: Magneto is one of Marvel's most layered and complex characters. What's going on in his head when we catch up with him in this new story?

J.M. DeMatteis: He's at a real turning point: tasked with stepping into Charles Xavier's shoes, upholding Xavier's vision, and training a new generation of mutants. But Magneto's vision of the world, and mutantkind's place in it, is vastly different than Xavier's and that is the core of the conflict that drives the story.

What appeals to you the most about this character?

I can't think of another character in the Marvel Universe who's more conflicted, more driven by a soul-tearing duality, and there's nothing I enjoy more as a writer than exploring characters like this. There are so many levels and layers to Magneto, each one contradictory, conflicting, and that makes for a great character and a great story.

What can you tell us about Irae? She seems to have some visual connection to Magneto...

She does. I don't want to give anything away, but she is, in some ways, a mirror of the Magneto we met in the first X-Men stories: an angry mutant who believes that the only way for mutantkind to survive in this world is by taking humanity down. She's the disciple Magneto never knew he had…and that's all I'll say for now.

Magneto goes to battle.

(Image credit: Marvel Comics)

On that note, how has it been working with Todd Nauck?

Todd's work has been superb. He's a masterful visual storyteller at the top of his game and he seems to gather momentum page by page, issue by issue. Every time a new batch of pages shows up in my email, I'm blown away.

Magneto is dead in the current timeline, meaning your story is the only place that fans will be able to find him for now. How does that inform the way you approach this title?

I don't think about that. I'm immersed in the characters and the story and I follow them where they lead me. Once the characters take over, it's like I’m not even writing. It's like they're telling me the story and I'm writing it down. Doesn't matter if the events are taking place in current continuity or years ago, the goal is to create as strong a story as I can.

What do you want fans to know going into Magneto #1?

I've always been fascinated by the disconnect between the Magneto of those early X-Men years - the one-dimensional, ranting and raging "evil mutant" - and the far more complex, nuanced Magneto we've come to know since then. (We'll actually be flashing back to those early days, looking at Magneto's first appearances through a very different lens.) This story offers me a chance to explore that disconnect in the context of a big adventure that includes the New Mutants and introduces a new - and, I hope, memorable - villain to the X-Universe.

I have to add that, when I was a kid first getting into Marvel, I loved those early X-tales - the first back issue I ever bought, for a whopping $3.00, was X-Men #1 (and, no, I don’t own it anymore) - so revisiting that era has been a special thrill for me.

Magneto #1 is published by Marvel Comics on August 2.

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George Marston

I've been Newsarama's resident Marvel Comics expert and general comic book historian since 2011. I've also been the on-site reporter at most major comic conventions such as Comic-Con International: San Diego, New York Comic Con, and C2E2. Outside of comic journalism, I am the artist of many weird pictures, and the guitarist of many heavy riffs. (They/Them)