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How Marvel is setting up the return of one of their biggest characters

Is death ever a permanent thing in the Marvel Universe? Not when you have a special door to the afterlife.

Cropped interior panel featuring Magneto
Image credit: Marvel (Luciano Vecchio)

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He’s the X-Men’s greatest ally. He’s also their greatest enemy (depending on what year it is). He’s one of the most nuanced characters in the Marvel Universe.

He’s also dead.

Magneto might be gone, but death is never the end in comics. In fact, his return is currently being set up in a limited series titled Resurrection of Magneto (written by Al Ewing and penciled by Luciano Vecchio). With a title like that, the outcome seems to be a foregone conclusion. How is the supervillain turned anti-hero making his return? Let’s dive in…

Warning: Spoilers ahead for Resurrection of Magneto #1!

How did Magneto die? Didn’t the X-Men find a cure for death?

Magneto death scene in X-Men: Red #7
Image credit: Marvel

Before we get into Magneto’s resurrection, let’s break down his death. If you’ve been away from the X-Men books for a while, or you just need a refresher, here is how it went down. It all started when the X-Men found a way to end death for all mutants. Using the powers of a combined group of mutants known as the Five, the X-Men created a system known as the Resurrection Protocols. After a mutant dies, they are reborn in a cloned body, thanks to a backup copy of their consciousness. Essentially, it’s like respawning in a video game.

If that concept horrifies you, then you aren’t alone. A group of Celestials thought the Resurrection Protocols were a crime against nature, so they attacked all mutants. In X-Men: Red #5 (2022) a Celestial named Uranos fought Magneto, ripping out his heart. That’s right, Uranos performed a Mortal Kombat style fatality on Erik Lehnsherr.

Believe it or not, that wasn’t enough to kill him.

Magneto used his magnetism powers to pump his own blood, allowing him to survive without his heart. As you can imagine, this was not a sustainable situation. After a rematch with Uranos, Magneto succumbed to his injuries in X-Men: Red #7 (2022).

But wait, can’t the X-Men just use the Resurrection Protocols to bring him back to life?

About that… X-Men: Red #4 (2022) Erik destroyed his psychic backup. This was his way of showing loyalty to Arrako, a mutant nation on Mars that looks down on resurrection. “There are other ways back, of course. Other doors. My daughter built one. But to come that way, you have to want to return,” Magneto noted at the time.

It’s almost as if Erik knew Marvel would eventually publish Resurrection of Magneto.

What happens in Resurrection of Magneto #1?

Resurrection of Magneto #1 splash page
Image credit: Marvel

Storm has been dreaming of Magneto. The mutant leader has had nocturnal visions of her fallen ally, looking away, surrounded by five distinct helmets. Why are there five helmets? Is this Magneto calling for help beyond the grave? Storm isn’t sure, but she’s determined to find out. If her friend is in trouble, she won’t let a little thing like death keep them apart.

In order to reach Erik, Storm visits Dr. Adam Brashear, the hero known as Blue Marvel. She wants a portal to the afterlife, and she figures Brashear can put something like that together.

How is this possible? Shortly after the Resurrection Protocols were created, Scarlet Witch used her magic to create a realm known as the Waiting Room. This area was a section of the afterlife exclusively for mutants. The Waiting Room was where mutant souls would go while they were waiting to be resurrected. Oh, and it’s not for humans. You have to be a mutant to go there when you die.

(At this point you might be thinking that the X-Men have no regard for life, death, and the afterlife. If so, it’s hard to disagree.)

Brashear puts together the portal (which I guess isn’t hard), and Storm enters the Waiting Room. To her surprise, many of the mutant souls have moved on, with the realm feeling almost empty. Storm journeys deeper into the afterlife and is confronted by a series of trials. Her soul is put through judgement by a powerful entity, but Storm is able to persevere.

As the issue comes to a close, the mutant warrior wonders how Magneto fared against the test. We then see a cliffhanger splash page of Magneto looking distressed…perhaps corrupted. The former villain is crawling on a hot surface, as blood pours out of his empty eye sockets. A list of names can be seen behind him. Former victims? A reference to his past as a Holocaust survivor? Right now, the answer is uncertain, but it appears that Erik has had quite a painful afterlife.

Either way, Magneto’s soul is going through some things. His resurrection has begun, but there is always a price to pay. What does this mean for Storm and Erik? We’ll have to keep reading….

Death and Magneto: An abridged history

Wolverine kills (imposter) Magneto in New X-Men #150
Image credit: Marvel

This is not the first (or second) time Magneto has returned from the dead. When you’re a popular Marvel character, death and rebirth are standard features (and that goes double for the X-Men franchise). Here’s a brief rundown on some of Magneto’s deaths. Spoiler – Many of these involve exploding bases.

  • Avengers #53 (1968) – Magneto flees his exploding base after a disastrous encounter with the X-Men and Avengers. Tired of Magneto’s verbal abuse, Toad kicks his master off in the plane. Magneto falls into the explosion, and he is presumed dead. X-Men #63 (1969) reveals that he survived the explosion and found a tunnel to the Savage Land.
  • X-Men #63 (1969) – Magneto is seemingly killed when his Savage Land base is engulfed in flames. Namor found Magneto (alive but wounded) in Fantastic Four #102 (1970).
  • X-Men #3 (1991) – When Asteroid M (an orbital base) begins to crash towards Earth, Magneto decides to go down with the ship. Uncanny X-Men #304 (1993) revealed that the villain known as Chrome used his powers to shield Magneto, allowing him to survive the impact.
  • New X-Men #115 (2001) – An army of Sentinels attack the mutant sanctuary Genosha, slaughtering millions. Magneto is initially believed to be one of the victims, but he resurfaced alive and well in Excalibur #1 (2004).
  • New X-Men #150 (2003) – Magneto is beheaded by Wolverine. It’s pretty hard to come back from that. Surprise, in X-Men #157 (2004) readers learned that this was an imposter named Kuan-Yin.
  • Uncanny X-Men #19 (2017) – Psylocke kills Magneto after an intense battle. His body is found by Elixir, who uses his powers to revive him.

As you can see, the doorway between life and death is familiar territory for Magneto. His latest revival is coming at an interesting time, as the X-Men prepare to make their last stand against a mutant-hunting organization called Orchis. From a real-world standpoint, Erik’s resurrection puts Magneto back on the board just in time for Tom Brevoort’s tenure as X-Men editor. What kind of plans does Brevoort have for Magneto? Whatever it is, let’s hope Erik has learned his lesson and stays away from exploding bases.

An advance review copy of Resurrection of Magneto #1 was provided ahead of release by Marvel.

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