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Erik and Charles in comics canon, part 1

Watching First Class only reminded me of Their Very Epic Love in the comic books, and made me want to share some evidence of it for movie fans who are not currently up to going through decades of comics backstory to get to the good stuff.


I haven't read any of the classic X-Men stories with the original team (Cyclops, Marvel Girl etc), so I only go as far back as the 1970s. From what I've heard, Silver Age Magneto is much more of a straightforward villain, and he only starts gaining shades of grey during Clairemont's X-Men run.

Not strictly related to Charles/Erik, the scans bellow are interesting because they show the beginning of writing Magneto as a more three-dimentionnal, sympathetic character. Context: Magneto holds Scott Summers (Cyclops) and his flame at the time Lee Forrester prisoners in an island in the Bermuda Triangle. In case you're wondering where Scott's ever-present visor is, Magneto uses a technobabbly device to disable everyone's powers than his own. In case you're wondering why Scott and Lee are sporting a look straight of the pirate harem collection...well, it was the early 80s, more than a few people look back fondly at their past fashion mistakes.

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Magneto intends to terrorise the world's governments into nuclear disarmament. It doesn't work, of course, and they end up attacking him, leading Magneto to destroy a Russian submarine (showing us that nukes and Magneto's love for destroying submarines is not something XM:FC came up with).

In between revealing his Grand Plan (as supervillains do), Magneto stops for some gossip by wondering who this new chippie is, and what happened to Scott's great love (and fellow X-Man) Jean Grey. Scott informs him she's dead (but worry not, she came back! A lot).

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Face it, Scott, in a Manpain-off, Magneto's got you beat. It's not accident Lee Forrester, who's witnessing the scene, ends up dating Magneto after she and Scott split up (an upgrade if ever there was one).

The rest of the X-Men eventually do show up, though they are inconveniently also depowered. Storm ends up stumbling upon Magneto sleeping, and while the panel isn't exactly revealing anything about Magneto (except in the physical sense), I'm finding Storm's inner conflict hilarious (“I should kill him...but LOOK at him!”)

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Magneto's naked torso keeps Storm distracted long enough for him to wake up and toss her out of the window. Hey, maybe that's why he sleeps in the nude!

Soon a full-on battle erupts, and Magneto flies off into a rage at young Kitty Pride (Shadowcat, though I don't think she went by that yet) for destroying his computer system (or possibly for assaulting his eyes with her, er, colorful choice of costum. The 80s, people!). She attempts to use her “phasing” power to go through him, only that doesn't go so well:

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A few things:
a) Magneto was indeed married at one point, to a girl he met in Auschwitz, and they had a daughter together. Unlike the movie, his mutant powers didn't manifest until well into adulthood, when an angry mob set his house on fire, with his daughter trapped inside. Needless to say, he killed them all, but his wife Magda was so freaked out, she ran away and he never saw her again (while pregnant, unbeknown to him, to twins, because Magneto's backstory is both tragic and soap operaish).
b) I know that nobody talks like that. Clairemont, who wrote this, was responsible for the writing memorable and relatable X-Men team dynamics, creating some of the awesomest female comic book characters, and generally creating some of what many considered the best X-Men era. What he wasn't so good at was writing realistic, non-stilted dialogue.

Even during Magneto's supervillain days, Charles is never far from his thought. A panel from a short story in X-Men classic #19:

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I bet he cuts out those articles and he keeps them in the same place where he stashes Charles' old love letters.

The panels bellow are from the 1982 graphic novel “God Loves, Man Kills”, which I recommend not only for its dark, complex storyline and great Magneto bits but also because it's the story X2 draws most of its inspiration from, from the villain William Stryker (head of an anti-mutant hate group), the reluctant X-Men/Magneto team-up and Stryker trying to use Charles to kill all mutants.
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Damn it, Scott, must you ruin EVERYTHING?

Also, I love how Magneto, at that time the X-Men's arch-nemesis, simply dropped everything to rescue Charles, and is just chillin' at the mansion in the aftermath. Least convincing ennemies EVER!

When Charles met Magnus Erik:

At some unspecified point in the past (well, originally it was 20 years ago, but thanks to the comics sliding timeline, who the hell knows!), Charles went to a hospital in Haifa Israel to help a catatonic young woman, where he meets a volunteer orderly by the name of Magnus.

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Yeah, the name thing. So look, basically Magneto was originally identified as Magnus, only to gain the name Erik Lensherr, and a massive backstory retcon in the 90s, where they changed his ethnicity from Jewish to Roma (apparently having a Jewish supervillain was offensive? And clearly, nobody worried about potential backlash from the Roma readership). Anyway, that retcon was STUPID, and was promptly ignored by everyone, only the name change stuck. Until somebody had a brillian idea to re-retcon (is that even a word? In comics fandom, it should be!) and give him a Jewish background again and the name Max Eisenhardt, because Erik Lensherr just wasn't anvilly enough. Anyway, it involved a complicated story of Magneto erasing his Max identity and adopting the Erik alias to escape...somebody, and since nobody in canon seems to know that, I'll just keep calling him Erik. Everybody else does.

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It turns out that the patient Charles has come to see, Gabrielle Heller, is also a Holocaust survivor so deeply traumatised by the horrors she's experienced she's trapped inside her own mind. Charles telepathically helps her, then proceeds to date an incredibly traumatised, very grateful young woman who's his patient, because there was never a time when Charles Xavier wasn't DEEPLY CREEPY.

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The threesome funtimes get interrupted by Gabrielle being kidnapped by what we later learn are Nazis, and the point where Charles and Erik's philosophical views clash for real:

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Yes, pacifist Charles is kind of a hypocrite. Try to contain your shock.

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I love that in the middle of the battle, danger and Nazis, Charles is most focused on the fact that his friend is a mutant, and knows he's a mutant too. Meant to be! Also, ignore that deflected bullet menacingly heading for Charles in the last panel, in the comic books, Erik has nothing to do with Charles' paralysis (well, not in mainstream continuity at any rate).

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At this point, Erik is just showing off a bit for Charles' sake.

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Poor Gabby is a bit of an afterthought in all this.

Flash forward about a decade in real time, and this story is revisited during the X-Men arc Legion Quest, when Charles and Gabrielle's mutant son (don't ask), tries to win over absent!daddy (yes, they both have kids in the comics, and are both kind of shitastic fathers) by travelling in the past to kill a young Magneto. The X-Men follow him into the past (of course they do), but none of this is as important as the Wacky And Slashy Adventures of Charles and Erik:

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Charles is so badass in this.

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And Erik's refusal to get involved goes out of the window the minute he thinks his boyfriend is in danger.

(As an aside, ignore the 90s art. It was an era of comically large muscles and boobs, BIG GUNS and superfluous pouches on costumes. We try not to think about it)

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And then there was victory!sex

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Of course Erik is enabling Charles in the massive ethics violation that is his relationship with Gabby. They'd be kind of terrible together if they ever ended up on the same page for real.

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Good lord, they are killing me with the dialogue! “Are you as intrigued by me as I am by you?” Is there any way to make that line sounds like more of a come-on? (The answer is, of course, “by having James McAvoy read it”).

Also, is Charles checking out Erik's crotch in the first panel?

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(It's possible I got those panels slightly out of order) I love that the word “jealousy” is explicitly used, even though there's some backtracking through referring to Magneto's dead wife.

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X-Men cover, or gay romance novel?



Charles' son has found them, and he's not happy.
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Charles sacrificed himself to save Erik, and by dying in his arms, created a whole new alternate reality dubbed The Age Of Apocalypse, consisting of Erik picking up the mantle of his friend's dream and getting it kind of hilariously wrong. The storyline kind of sucked, and the universe was eventually reset, so we're leaving it at that.

So that's it for part 1. This is taking more time than I expected, but I do know I want to cover some more great Charles and Erik moments, like when Charles left Magneto in charge of the kids, or their time in Excalibur V3, where they are even more married than in the movie, or their reunion during more recent X-titles. I don't know if I have the courage to go into the multiple canon AUs, though Ultimate X-Men is kind of begging for it (I hate the Ultimate books on principle, but you can't deny they have some things going for them, like the ridiculously slashy Charles/Erik, not to mention canon incest and Iron Man and Black Widow having their own sex tape).

Comments

( 63 comments — Leave a comment )
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(Deleted comment)
ishtar79
Jun. 27th, 2011 09:04 pm (UTC)
I only vaguely remembered reading the AOA the first time around, and when I recently got reacquainted with Marvel and attempted a marathon read of, well, everything, I kind of skipped it due to the sheer volume I had to go through.

Glad you enjoyed the post!
openmydoors
Jun. 27th, 2011 05:36 pm (UTC)
Thanks for that recap! Man, the comics art in the nineties SUCKED.
ishtar79
Jun. 27th, 2011 09:05 pm (UTC)
It did indeed. There are some pretty bad artists drawing now, but the nineties kind of sucked across the board.
(no subject) - openmydoors - Jun. 28th, 2011 02:41 am (UTC) - Expand
nausicaa83
Jun. 27th, 2011 05:45 pm (UTC)
Loving this post, but especially the commentary. :D
ishtar79
Jun. 27th, 2011 09:05 pm (UTC)
I aim to please! :D
lillcarrionbird
Jun. 27th, 2011 05:50 pm (UTC)
Haha these were so great and your commentary was hilarious <3 I love the panels where Charles almost takes Eriks hand *cries a little*

I just cannot get over how buff everyone is o_O Its freaking me out... Seriously, they look like every time they flex/move their shirts would just explode off them.
ishtar79
Jun. 27th, 2011 09:07 pm (UTC)
That bit with the outstretched hands goes on for like three panels-I refuse to believe the subtext was accidental!

It's mostly the 90s art-it can be scary. The way women were drawn was even scarier.
elizabethisboss
Jun. 27th, 2011 05:53 pm (UTC)
This was amazing. BOYFRRIENNDDS!
ishtar79
Jun. 27th, 2011 09:07 pm (UTC)
THEY SO ARE!
starrose17
Jun. 27th, 2011 06:08 pm (UTC)
Thank you SO much for these!!
ishtar79
Jun. 27th, 2011 09:07 pm (UTC)
You're welcome!
astuta
Jun. 27th, 2011 06:12 pm (UTC)
I could say a lot about the Erik/Charles relationship here, but I choose to be juvenile and say that I totally cracked up at the "Fourteen sailors latter"

That's what I call a night out. :D
ishtar79
Jun. 27th, 2011 09:08 pm (UTC)
I could say a lot about the Erik/Charles relationship here, but I choose to be juvenile and say that I totally cracked up at the "Fourteen sailors latter"

LMAO, how the hell did I miss this? :DDDDD
corilannam
Jun. 27th, 2011 06:19 pm (UTC)
This was excellent! Your commentary was as much fun as the panels. I'll look forward to your next post -- I just finished reading Excalibur v.3 last night, and cracked up at them shacking up together in cozy domestic bliss in the middle of an apocalyptic hellscape. Awesome.
ishtar79
Jun. 27th, 2011 09:09 pm (UTC)
Glad it worked for you.

them shacking up together in cozy domestic bliss in the middle of an apocalyptic hellscape

Best description of Excalibur V3 ever!
fallen_reason
Jun. 27th, 2011 06:36 pm (UTC)
Thank you for this! :D
ishtar79
Jun. 27th, 2011 09:10 pm (UTC)
You're welcome!
sheliana
Jun. 27th, 2011 06:38 pm (UTC)
This is priceless! Thanks so much for this compilation! I don't remember the last time I laughed and swooned so much:) I know nothing of the X-Men comics, and this little excursion into their yummy slashy world is much appreciated!
ishtar79
Jun. 27th, 2011 09:11 pm (UTC)
Yay, I'm always happy to introduce more people to the X-Men slashiness (and really, comics in general).
nagasasu
Jun. 27th, 2011 06:39 pm (UTC)
Thank you~
ishtar79
Jun. 27th, 2011 09:11 pm (UTC)
You're welcome!
johnnash
Jun. 27th, 2011 07:19 pm (UTC)
God Loves Man Kills will always be one of my favorites, and you put up a great part of it for the X/M relationship. Also thank you for including the bar brawl scans. As for Excalibur V3, you'll end up having to use scans of the whole series.

And this is unrelated, but young Erik looks so much like his son, it's uncanny.
ishtar79
Jun. 27th, 2011 09:15 pm (UTC)
God Loves Man Kills kind of blew my mind when I first read it, and on a recent reread, I found it as good as I remembered. I also think the more gritty and realistic art (everybody's faces are different!) really works for the subject matter.

And yeah, I have NO idea how I'll pick panels from Excalibur V3. Their intimate dinners with sunset backdrops, FFS!
supasass
Jun. 27th, 2011 07:24 pm (UTC)
This is so unbelievably awesome! Just spent the day at college but from this lj post I've LEARNT SO MUCH MORE. Used to watch the cartoons as a kid, but it's so cool to get the knowledge from the comics through my slash fangirl's eyes...
ishtar79
Jun. 27th, 2011 09:19 pm (UTC)
I haven't watched the cartoons yet (beyond a few episodes during the 90s), but after hearing how slashy they are, I clearly need to amend that.

And hey, I've found fandom in general more educational than any of my degrees. ;)
huntress1013
Jun. 27th, 2011 07:43 pm (UTC)
Gosh so many great memories. Age of Apocalypse was FANTASTIC. I haven't read X-Men in ages. I collected until Onslaught and also own "House of M" but after re-reading "House of M" I have to say that the mini series makes seriously no sense and Wanda has all my sympathies. Yeah both men sucked as parents but honestly Charles in the comics doesn't only suck as a parent, he is IMO in general an unpleasant idiot and terrible teacher and things only got worse as time progressed. I like the Charles from all the movies a TON better!

I have heard that "Uncanny X-Men" will end soon and Marvel will do a re-boot. Can we pretty please have the Charles and Erik from "First Class"....minus beach divorce? Pretty please with ice cream on top?
etrangere
Jun. 27th, 2011 07:57 pm (UTC)
I have heard that "Uncanny X-Men" will end soon and Marvel will do a re-boot. Can we pretty please have the Charles and Erik from "First Class"....minus beach divorce? Pretty please with ice cream on top?
Uncanny X-Men is ending soon and restarting to #1; but it's DC which is doing a reboot; so you have little chance of the continuity being changed.
(no subject) - ishtar79 - Jun. 27th, 2011 09:23 pm (UTC) - Expand
flo_nelja
Jun. 27th, 2011 08:09 pm (UTC)
I laughed when I saw that the arc with Legion going back in the past has just been reedited in paperback. With Charles dying in Erik's arms on the cover. They really want the movie fans to buy it. ^^
ishtar79
Jun. 27th, 2011 09:24 pm (UTC)
LOL, seriously? I didn't know that. You've got to love such blatant fanservice.
sandoz_iscariot
Jun. 27th, 2011 10:32 pm (UTC)
I had forgotten the almost hand-touching in God Loves, Man Kills!

Oh lord Claremont. I love flawed, morally ambiguous heroes but jfc the X-Men have some fucked up relationships. *facepalms into infinity*
ishtar79
Jun. 27th, 2011 10:35 pm (UTC)
Oh lord Claremont. I love flawed, morally ambiguous heroes but jfc the X-Men have some fucked up relationships. *facepalms into infinity*

Trufax. One only needs to look at Scott's record...
(Deleted comment)
ishtar79
Jun. 28th, 2011 08:05 am (UTC)
I'll try to have it up today (the whole thing is turning into a bit of a beast of a project and taking longer than expected).
cailac
Jun. 28th, 2011 01:57 am (UTC)
gah, Im loving your descriptions of the comics, I was laughing like a maniac and banging my head at the bizarre art of the 90's and the COSTUMES, OMG THOSE AWFUL COSTUMES of the 80's

wow, I can't believe what Im about to say, but, goddamit NOW I want to read all of the comics...which is crazy cause they must be like, 20 years of comic books?... anyways, I only watched the cartoon in the 90's ( and watching the reruns, and of course, my fangirl senses were tingling as hell) and yeah, this is not even bromance, this is more like a marriage dammit!
ishtar79
Jun. 28th, 2011 08:07 am (UTC)
LOL, I'm glad I inspired such an ambitious desire! It's more like 30+ years btw, but if you decide to go for it, ask me and I can pm you the easiest/free way to do that.
sasha_b
Jun. 28th, 2011 02:18 am (UTC)
SDLKFAJGSHAPOWIEA!@#!! AoA is my favorite storyline from the comic 'verse. I'd totally forgotten how much I did love it; thanks for the reminder. COULD THEY BE MORE TOGETHER. ;)))
ishtar79
Jun. 28th, 2011 08:07 am (UTC)
COULD THEY BE MORE TOGETHER. ;)))

THEY COULD, ACTUALLY! (I haven't gotten to Excalibur V3 yet)
pinkninjapj
Jun. 28th, 2011 02:49 am (UTC)
This is fantastic and awesome and your commentary is freaking hilarious!

X-Men cover, or gay romance novel?

*double take* There's a difference?
ishtar79
Jun. 28th, 2011 08:08 am (UTC)
Given that it's the 90s, the difference is possibly bigger muscles?
oximore
Jun. 28th, 2011 03:02 am (UTC)
God the nineties were the worst! The art is terrible (just like she Rictor/Shatterstar in the nineties *shiver*). But damn, the panel where their fingers barely touch & Charles let go? BE STILL MY HEART!

"consisting of Erik picking up the mantle of his friend's dream and getting it kind of hilariously wrong"

SO TRUE. XD
ishtar79
Jun. 28th, 2011 08:13 am (UTC)
Oooh, I remember the bad RicStar art. Liefield!

But damn, the panel where their fingers barely touch & Charles let go? BE STILL MY HEART!

But damn, the panel where their fingers barely touch & Charles let go? BE STILL MY HEART!

The Magneto and New Mutants bits were so precious, I'm kind of bummed I can't focus a whole post on the hilarity of the whole situation.
purple_spock
Jun. 28th, 2011 05:34 am (UTC)
This is really great and I'm so glad you shared. SO many of your comments were clever and funny, but this one is my favourite : The answer is, of course, “by having James McAvoy read it". It made me laugh out loud. I also read the comic books, though I read a lot of the earlier ones and less so those that came later. I have the comic where the first scans came from and you're right, Scott's clothes are ridiculous (and he does ruin everything). I have always thought the Charles and Erik had to have a really deep bond and that their interactions make a LOT more sense if you read it as though they used to be a couple. Also, sidebar, I didn't know about the history behind the name Erik. I personally prefer that name to his others - it has the nicest ring to it. I also prefer him as a Jewish Holocaust survivor.
Wow, long comment. Anyway, thanks again for sharing, this was a lot of fun and very interesting to read. Also I'm glad that I'm not the only one who sees them as a couple in the original comics. : D
ishtar79
Jun. 28th, 2011 08:16 am (UTC)
I think some of the older comic books are the best era anyway, eye-searing outfits aside. And yeah, the whole backstory surrounding the name is confusing-no wonder Marvel has difficulty attracting new readers, you need to refer to Wikipedia just to keep up with everybody's names. I like Erik the best as a name too, and not just because it's the one he had when I first got into comic books.
anonymiss731
Jun. 28th, 2011 05:38 am (UTC)
Charles, why do you insist of wearing such ugly ugly hats?
ishtar79
Jun. 28th, 2011 08:17 am (UTC)
He relies on the same X-Men stylist who dresses Cyclops.
kitsuneyujji
Jun. 28th, 2011 06:11 am (UTC)
:x

I like Ultimate verse. Well, up to the point where I circumstances forced me to stop reading.
ishtar79
Jun. 28th, 2011 08:17 am (UTC)
So...you you aren't familiar with the Ultimatum storyline then?
(no subject) - kitsuneyujji - Jun. 28th, 2011 08:23 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - ishtar79 - Jun. 28th, 2011 09:23 am (UTC) - Expand
htenywg
Jun. 28th, 2011 06:34 am (UTC)
This is kind of awesome. (And Iron Man / Black Widow what?)
ishtar79
Jun. 28th, 2011 08:20 am (UTC)
Not only was there a sex tape, but the Ultimates (Avengers equivalent) felt the best way to discuss this PR disaster was to have a meeting with the tape playing in a giant screen in the background. You know, for illustration purposes, or as the most inappropriate team-bonding activity ever.

Just for you:

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