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.
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).
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!”)
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:
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:
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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:
Yes, pacifist Charles is kind of a hypocrite. Try to contain your shock.
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).
At this point, Erik is just showing off a bit for Charles' sake.
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:
Charles is so badass in this.
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)
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.
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?
(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.
X-Men cover, or gay romance novel?
Charles' son has found them, and he's not happy.
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).