Thursday, December 11, 2008

Settling the Score: Magneto


My favorite feature of our little wander through the Internet desert is the Jew Score. When we started, of course, it wasn't really clear how the whole thing would work in practice (setting Mel Brooks as the high at 15 helped, of course). 400-odd profiles later and we have a pretty good idea of who ought to be scored what. It's almost rote by now. But sometimes we have a debate about a score - either one that has been posted or one that will be. When that happens, this post happens. So let's go ahead and Settle the Score:

Speaking of favorite features: it's the Fictional Characters category! Anyway, today on Settling the Score we're gonna pick up a request and talk about everyone's favorite mutant maligner: Magento. Er, Magneto. Sorry, looking at his costume, it's an easy mistake.

In any case, there's a good amount of stuff out there on the Interwebs saying that Magneto isn't Jewish at all, but rather Gypsy or Romany. We scored Magneto an I 4, so clearly we didn't even consider the possibility. Should we have?

Magneto as a Holocaust survivor is pretty much canon at this point. But that doesn't mean much for our discussion here since the nazis were equal opportunity offenders when it came to Jews and Romany. After that, things start getting murky. There are times where he identifies as Gypsy, others as Jewish. Same goes for his psycho daughter, The Scarlet Witch. No less a luminary than Stan Lee, Magneto's creator seemed to write him as a Gypsy, or at least, not as a Jew. But then no less a luminary than Joe Quesada, current editor-in-chief at Marvel Comics says Magneto is Jewish.

In the movies, Magneto is Jewish. In the Ultimate Marvel Universe (a whole other comics line based on an alternate Marvel universe), he's not even a Holocaust survivor, let alone a Jew. It makes my little nerdy head spin.

Look, these are comics. And as we pointed out in Firestorm, this whole exercise is patently ridiculous. We're never going to have a clear answer, and as soon as we get one they'll just reboot the whole damn universe and make Magneto a Pygmy or something. That leaves us with two options:

1. Ding his I score down to a 3 and admit that his background is too confusing to call.

2. Use the confusion to our advantage and pick whichever background we prefer.

As clearly shown by our past habits, we tend to prefer the latter.

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