Whispers on the Wind
Credits: Scott Lobdell (writer), Roger Cruz (penciler), Tim Townsend & Al Milgrom (inkers), Richard Starkings & Comicraft (lettering), Steve Buccellato & Electric Crayon (colors)
In South America, a nun and a group of orphans find an amnesiac Magneto. Magneto lashes out at the nun after she draws a gun on him, and then passes out. He awakes four days later and is fed by the nun, Sister Maria. After he shaves, he realizes that he looks like he’s in his twenties, but he doesn’t know why that feels wrong. One of the orphans, Migdalia, names him Joseph. Migdalia is almost struck by a stray bullet from a nearby fight, which introduces Joseph to the drug-related violence that surrounds the area. Joseph grows closer to Sister Maria and the children as the weeks pass. One of the local authorities, Colonel Ramos, spies on Joseph and discovers his mutant powers. He soon returns to the orphanage and kidnaps Maria and the children. Ramos tells Joseph that if he helps with the drug trade, he’ll free the hostages. Joseph refuses and forces Ramos to tell him where his friends are being held. Sister Maria and the orphans are soon rescued by Joseph, but they’re horrified when they see the corpses of the men he killed in order to reach them. The next day, Joseph leaves the orphanage. Maria gives him a copy of a magazine she bought years ago in America with the X-Men on the cover, hoping that his fellow mutants can help him.
This is the start of a bit of a mess. The original idea was that “Joseph” really is supposed to be Magneto, who was somehow de-aged following his landing from Avalon (Marvel even released a miniseries starring the character called Magneto). I have no idea where Lobdell was going with this, but I think he later changed his mind and decided that Joseph should be Proteus. That never made it into the actual comic, but after Magneto returned in issue #350, it was later revealed that Joseph had been a clone of Magneto (created by a jaded former member of the Brotherhood) the entire time.
This is another issue that’s hard to view in the proper context, knowing how poorly this storyline is eventually resolved. The basic idea of reviving Magneto with no memory of his past, giving him a new chance and playing around with the classic “nature vs. nurture” question, is fine. However, magically de-aging him without explanation doesn’t really add anything to that idea (unless you think making him younger is essential for his second chance), and it inserts yet another pointless mystery into the book. It really seems like Lobdell never wanted to do a totally linear story. There always had to be some hidden mystery or unanswered question at the end of every storyline, even if we never got all of the answers from the previous one. It started to get old after a while, and I distinctly remember Magneto’s unexplained de-aging specifically getting on my nerves at the time (I’m not sure why exactly I honed in on that particular mystery, but it really bugged me). Looking past the superfluous mystery, there is some good material here. Disconnecting Magneto from his past is an interesting angle to pursue, and the setting of this issue gives Lobdell some room to play around with the idea. Having Magneto give in to his darker impulses while saving the children mirrors the origin story Claremont gave the character years earlier, which had him killing the people responsible for his daughter’s death in a horrible rage. It’s a bleak ending for a story that had actually been pretty sweet up until that point, and Lobdell manages to competently handle the change in tone. As a story, this issue works as the start of a new arc for a character that had been greatly mishandled in the preceding years, but even at this point you can see hints that it might end up going in the wrong direction.