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Tag Archives: Magneto

Magneto is not the only character connected to the X-Men universe whose story is rooted in the Holocaust. Also the mutant known as Wolverine goes through the experience of a death camp, that of Sobibor. The story is told in Prisoner Number Zero (Wolverine, Vol. 3, n. 32, November 2005). The mutant, nearly indestructible because of his “healing factor”, survives all the attempts at executing him and even the gas chamber. He is not to be listed among the “Holocaust Avengers”, although the camp commander, Major Bauman, accidentally dies while confronting him. Wolverine stays silent and passive, with a defiant grin on his face, while the Nazis unleash their fury, that ultimately leads them to self-destruction.

The nocturnal depiction of the crematorium’s chimney under the snow seems reminiscent of the Auschwitz sequences from Schindler’s List.

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In the adventure “Night of the Reaper” (Batman, No. 237, Dec. 1971), Batman comes to Rutland, Vermont, to bring his help to Dr. Gruener, a German Jew who was deported to a concentration camp run by Colonel Kurt Schloss, known during the war as the Butcher. Schloss has allegedly been sighted in the Rutland area, and Dr. Gruener wants to find him and bring him to justice, but the Colonel is killed by a mysterious Reaper at a Halloween parade.

As it turns out, the Reaper is Dr. Gruener himself, seeking his private vengeance. He dies battling Batman when he falls off the edge of a dam. Batman is conflicted whether to hunt the Reaper or let him go. As is the case of many superheroes, Batman’s powers are rooted in a traumatic experience (he has witnessed the murder of his parents as a child), so he fully understands Gruener’s unstoppable lust for revenge.

Lastly, when a Star of David dangles before his eyes, Gruener questions what he has become. His story resonates with that of Magneto – supervillain of the X-Men whose superpowers firstly appeared in Auschwitz – and finds its place in a long tradition of “Holocaust Avengers” in comics, traced by Kathrin Bower (“Holocaust Avengers: From The Master Race to Magneto”, International Journal of Comic Art 6.2, Fall 2004: 182-19).

Source: What If…Captain America Had Led An Army Of Super Soldiers In World War II (What If…?, Vol. 2, No. 28, August 1991). What if is the title of several comic book series published by Marvel Comics which explore “alternate” (and in some way “counter-factual”) histories of characters from the Marvel Universe. In Auschwitz, Captain America meets the young Erik Magnus Lehnsherr and speaks to him. His wise words prevent the arousal in Magnus of those feelings of revenge that would eventually lead to his transformation in Magneto, super-villain of the X-Men.