Monday, October 30, 2023


The final issue of Magneto—our grand finale, brought to brilliant visual life by artist Todd Nauck and colorist Rachelle Rosenberg—is on sale Wednesday. As a huge fan of the original X-Men, it's been a challenge and a delight (perhaps a dark delight) revisiting some of the earliest X-tales through the lens of Erik Lehnsherr's tortured psyche—as well as getting to know the New Mutants (characters I wasn't overly familiar with) and introducing our new villain Irae and her Sisterhood of Evil Mutants. I'd love to do more with all these characters. Time will tell.

Here's the hype from Marvel:

IS HE EVIL MUTANT, OR IS HE HERO…OR IS HE BOTH? MAGNETO must come to grips with his past as the Head of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, as well as his present as the Headmaster of the Xavier School’s NEW MUTANTS! What is the TRUE destiny of Erik Lehnsherr? How can these two aspects co-exist in the same man? Don’t miss the astounding final chapter of the character-defining saga by J.M. DeMatteis (PETER PARKER: THE SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN, CAPTAIN AMERICA) and Todd Nauck (X-MEN LEGENDS, AMAZING SPIDER-MAN)!

Written by: J. M. DeMatteis
Art by: Todd Nauck, Rachelle Rosenberg
Cover by: Todd Nauck, Rachelle Rosenberg
Page Count: 28 Pages
Release Date: November 1, 2023

Some preview pages below.  Enjoy!


  1. I think a lot of people make the mistake of believing the reason why these retro books sell is nostalgia based.
    To a certain extent...sure. However, I was not even alive when the comics this takes place in were coming out. Sure, I did read that era of X-Men a while back, but my New Mutants collection is very thin. And warm fuzzies for the era is at least in part from Sienkiewicz's art.
    That bleeds a bit into a theory that readers want to support their favorite creators...I think there is a little more truth in that one. However, I recently met a guy who started reading Silver Surfer for the first time, after reading the first Ron Marz mini. So I kind of doubt he was a hardcore Marz-head (that is what they are called) before hand.

    I do think both this theories mix with the truths.

    Part of it comes form the writers for these books usually coming from the era of treating comic writing like a trade. Something you train to do, by working with editors. Opposed to the modern system where one starts off in the wilds of indie books. I think that has made more seasoned writers more adept at writing for broader audiences while still keeping a personal voice. Many who made their bones in the indies may be very good, but not for everybody.

    I also think the chronological restrictions are freeing. You know what happens to Magneto after this. Just like Nocenti did with Storm, Marz with The Surfer, and so on. I doubt anyone is coming to change the course of comics for years to come, and build a decade spanning saga.

    It seems that this leads writers to tell more character driven stories by necessity. Everyone knows the New Mutants will survive this story, because they are still in comics. Everyone knows the universe won't end.

    So, with out the tension of imminent death, readers have to not only be draw in in by character, but only character.

    In short..okay, maybe it is some form of nostalgia. But I think it is more a nostalgia when writers were allowed to tell more small stories, and not have everything be a 100 issue saga.

    I think the comic industry has ignored small stories over the past decade. Given that their existence is at least in part dependent on stories that can be adapted to multi-part movies, I can't really blame them. A hundred issue story may make some people angry, but it could also hook them to buy for 100 issues...even if it is hoping it gets better.

    Still, small stories are what built comics. Character moments are what helped Marvel forge modern comics. People like reading about people. I am glad they found a way to go to that well.


  2. ....continued...

    I think all this going back to writers from the past in books set are popular as a celebration of the craft of comic book making. The skill of it. Especially as it exists in relation to adaptability and a sort of timeless style.


    1. Interesting insights, as always, Jack.

      Nostalgia's certainly a factor in these series—but you've got to deliver a fresh, interesting story that's relevant to Now. As for small stories...

      I've always been a fan of the stand alone, done-in-one, story. Get in, tell the best tale you can, and get out. And you can pack as much story into a single issue (or a short mini) as you can into a year long "epic."

    2. Well Demattteis, I am not the best person to talk about nostalgia with. I think it is a disease, and actually think my attempts to actively suppress it may have done long term damage to my brain.

      However, I do have other thoughts I have meant to write about here, but they are too long for the time i have.

      Instead I will ask a question. DO you see these types of mini series as a huge opportunity?

      I would imagine if you wanted to pitch ..say, a Thor would have to get caught up on everything going on in the book, and make sure it fits into the larger narrative structure.

      Conversely, if you wanted to write a Fantastic Four story with the Fantastic Four with these retro mini series, you could pick an era and write the story to fit into said time frame.

      You have always been pretty vocal about your love of 70s comics, you could do a Dracula story that takes place between the panels of Wolfman's run (even consult with him). Or walk over to DC and write a Swamp Thing story in the Len Wein era. etc.

      It just seems like this is a huge opportunity for creators to write characters they did not get a chance to, before, while dodging the complications of the modern big two's long term planning.

      Just wondering.


      P.S. I realized recently that 70s Marvel needs to be talked about more as the comic equivalent of the "New Hollywood" era of film making, There are many parallels

    3. Yes to both, Jack. Yes, these minis are great ways to just go in and tell a strong story without getting enmeshed in all the current continuity. And, yes, the 70s certainly gave us the comic equivalent of The New Hollywood. I never thought of that before, but you're spot on.

    4. It especially works as a "chose your own stats quo."
      Let's say J.M. Dematteis once pitched a run on the Fantastic Four, but it did not pan out for whatever reason. Well, he could take some of the ideas and do a mini series set when that would have been.
      Or if he had some memorable story he fabricated in his head, while a no-good punk kid reading comics without paying at the malt shop, he could just shimmy it into the Lee-Kirby era.
      It really opens up the potential playing field for creators. A second chance on ideas and concepts that there just was not space for at the time.

      It also allows another opportunity.

      When Jack Kirby's 100th birthday rolled around, neither of the Big Two had much fanfare. Nor Stan Lee's These are pretty big moments you only get one chance at.

      These trips back in time could also be a good way for creators to collectively pitch tributes to comic and dead alike... in a respectful and enjoyable way. Because that is the kind of thing hardcore comic fans may like, but as other media becomes bigger, Marvel has even said their priority is writing the first draft of the MCU a decade early, I am not sure tributes and love letters to the creators that got them there are as high as a priority as they once may have been... Marvel did a lot for the the company's 70th anniversary some years back.

      However I would argue that these mini series shows they are not against making things that directly are appealing to long time fans, and have cross over appeal. It is just not a top priority for monetary purposes.


    5. Truth be told, I think Marvel is smart to make this move now.

      Decompression, as we think of it, as far as I can tell, started at Marvel in the 90s. Todd McFarlane's Spider-man had all the hallmarks of the style. Bigger and fewer panels on a page, and fewer words leading to a story's length being extended.

      It actually makes sense. Being someone who came into the industry as an artist, it makes sense he would lean on the art to do the storytelling, and want to show it off.

      However, it really took off in the 2000s, with Brian Michael Bendis. Most notably with his Daredevil run, and his five year Avengers run that was a meditation on the war on terror.

      Still, they were no different than say...the Elektra Saga. It is just that each chapter was longer than one or two issues.

      It actually probably helped Marvel get over the bubble burst and bankruptcy. Make the books harder to quit.

      However, it has evolved since then,
      In the past few years there has been a planned 100 issue run of Batman, that ended up being 80, which from issue 1 was running story of Bane taking over Gotham with the Thomas Wayne of another Dimension.
      Issue#1 of a Spider-Man run teased a 'demon' with history to Spider-Man, and kept building back to it for 75 issues.
      Starting in 2019, the X-Men started a saga involving them forming a mutant separatist nation where they kill each other in gladiatorial combat to get their powers back. With eh main XMen book mostly being a conduit for the 8 spin-offs.
      Action comics is currently ending a run where Superman meets kryptonin-ish people, rescued them form War World, then brings the refugees to Earth, where anti-alien groups attack them, and the inciting issue for the villain seems to be from another book entirely.

      My point is not that these are bad, some have been very enjoyable reading experiences, others "I did not waste my money buying it." Some I did not like. That is all a matter of opinion.

      The point is rather that is a lot to juggle in your head, it is also hard to start if you missed the earliest issues.

      Id the story depends on something from an issue two years ago, you may not remember.


    6. Now, I DO understand the logic of it. This is an idea they took fro streaming services. That simple. Keep them coming back with longer form stories. Streaming has effected how comics work.

      however, comics don;t come out all at once. And they don't come with a flat rate subscription no matter how many you read.

      Some people want things more digestible. Less plot dependent. More character based. For all Jim Starlin;s big cosmic epics, they were usually REALLY just about the journey of one or two characters, not a large cast with many moving parts.

      Makes sense, people remember emotions better than facts (plot points).

      These past pieces have to fit those molds, because we know what happens next, so it all has to be character as the center. The plot can not take over too much, because other things were going on then.

      It is diversifying the reading experience.

      To use an example, think of New York. You remember it in the 70s, 80s, and early 90s, right? kind of a rough place. To this day, if you type in "Bronx" and "70s" into Google images, you see buildings on fire.

      But it was said in the 90s that the new site of the Bronx was construction cranes. Which was happening in many of the previously more neglected arts of the city.

      It seemed nice at the time. Makes more people and businesses want to go to more parts of the city.

      Now, decades later, we see the working class driven from most parts of the city, small businesses having more trouble competing, homeless who are fully employed, etc. All because of policies that were intended to get money and people into neighborhoods.

      These mini series set in the past are like affordable housing, that is also livable. Preserving the old neighborhood's character, while also trying to keep the junkies away.

      Whereas the long form ones are like gentrified condos. If you have invested in it, it may be great, but you have to be able to invest in it.

      I know you understand real estate far better than comics.


    7. When decompressed storytelling is used well, it allows a story to really you room to dive deeper into character AND plot...get more novelistic. (At least that's the way that I see it. I think MOONSHADOW, ABADAZAD, and other stories of mine could be called decompressed.) Done poorly, they just take a little bit of story and stretch it out and out and out.

      I remember, some years back, reading a comic that I was really enjoying. I got to what I assumed was page eight or so...then realized I was at the end of the book. It was well written, beautifully illustrated, and completely padded.

      I'm sure someone who grew up on those kinds of stories would disagree with me.

      In the end, it's like any other style of storytelling: It depends who's doing it.

      So I guess I'm at home in the condos AND the old neighborhood!

    8. Well Dematteis, this is where we have a parting of the ways.

      I am not familiar with industry definition of 'decompression,' but out in the world, it usually excludes the idea of doing something for to add more character or plot.

      For instance, I think you could argue Legends of the Dark Knight was a forebear to Marvel's current set-in-the-past-mini-series Especially when you consider how many were supposed to be filling in Batman's past Post-Crisis. It was all before the then-current run.

      The average length of a story was about three to five issues, usually taking the opportunity to flesh out Batman's character. Highlighting the difference in story style, and how it was allowed to breathe, is how many were written by Doug Moench, who was also writing one to two issue stories int eh main Batman book.

      Still, I don't know anyone who would call those stories "decompressed." You mention it being more like a novel, but in my experience, to is more associated with trying to make it more cinematic. Multiple panels where nothing changes to show time changing, Singe;e, short sentences in a panel to give the illusion of a camera panning back and forth. Large Panels used more often to act like shots in a movie, and a refrain from having text because it might harm the illusion of it being a film. That kind of thing.

      The truth is, not all long form comic writing is decompression, but I think its increased usage of it, which in turn lead to increased production of trades, made more long-form storytelling seem possible. And, again, streaming services are definitely playing a role in how comic creators are thinking about things.

      Just like how Frank Miller opened up the door to think more cinematic in making comics. But the truth is, I am not sure how much of this is coming from inside comics.

      Comics are increasingly not comics. They are the first draft for movies or TV shows.

      I have a few friends who do work on movies, nothing big, mostly editing and camera work. Trade stuff. They have heard that what film schools and film degree giver-outers are telling film students is, to make a comic book. That shows you have an idea, and a story board. I have absolutely read indies books that are a product of that mindset, by people who do not care about comics.

      HOWEVER, I am not claiming everyone working in comics currently is of that mindset that comics are unimportant, and just a stepping stone to "better media." That certainly exists, but almost any creator at the big two can gush over comics from decades ago with the best of them.

      However, they are not immune to outside influences. It is also worth noting that Marvel itself has said they are "writing the first draft of the MCU a decade early." So on some level, there is a very clear business element to things. And why not? Has any comic ever made as much $200 million in sales? Because that is about how much Marvels, the lowest grossing Marvel film has made.

      Now, with even Image Comics taking on licensed properties, I would say Hollywood's take over is now industry wide.


    9. It is effecting it on an even deeper level. Years ago, thought balloons gave way to captions, which also ended third party narration. Now however, you don;t really see much of either in comics Probably because movies and TV shows don't have them.

      Is it sad that comics are essentially becoming little more than a tool for Hollywood, losing the memory of unique things it can do? Sure. OF course it is.

      However, it was also inevitable. The second Avengers became the biggest thing in the world, the fix was in. Just like how Jaws was a tense thoughtful thriller, and Jaws 3 and 4 were just monster movies. First Blood was about the psychological issues of Vietnam vets caused by the horrors of war, and the sequels were glorification of it. Punk went from MC5, the Stooges, and the Ramones to pop punk of the 90s. Coltrane and Thelonias Monk paved the way for Kenny G. It is what happens.

      Thus my gentrification simile. Also, why it is good Marvel is trying to diversify.

      You said "So I guess I'm at home in the condos AND the old neighborhood!"

      My point exactly, both types of writing should be allowed to exist, short and long form storytelling

      And, while not what I was getting at in the last post, it also preservers how comics were to a degree. Comics designed to not be influenced by things other than comics.

      Is it as good as the whole medium? NO, but it is better than nothing. The changes I mentioned likely are what it takes for there to be any comics. Evolution has costs, but it is life.


    10. In the end, any time comics get locked into one specific type of storytelling, it's not good. I've said for many years that comics are any combination of words and pictures that we, as creators, decide to use.

      I remember when MOONSHADOW first came out and an artist I knew said, "But it's not a comic book!" It didn't fit his paradigm. But it was a comic book because we said it was.

  3. As for the 70s...

    One of the interesting parallels, is in how the more experimental eras strangely gave birth to the more commercially viable.

    It is easy to forget that Steven Spielberg and George Lucas were pretty heavy into the New Hollywood scene. Lucas actually more than Spielberg.

    Indeed, both Jaws and Star Wars were very much New Hollywood type movies. They however were the first blockbusters and created much of the Blockbuster elements they would become synonymous with the 80s, and continue to this day.

    I think you could say similar elements about Denny O'Neil, Len Wein, Marv Wolfman and Chris Claremont.

    O'Neil's runs on both Batman and Green Lantern/Green Arrow were ground breaking and with Batman at least, still seem a little avante garde in how human he made the character. His editing of the character would be the building blocks for what he is now

    Len Wein and Marv Wolfman both created cutting edge horror comics that were human based tales of self-discovery and minor tragedies and triumphs in ongoing settings. Ideas that have completely disappeared from mainstream comics, even Swamp Thing became...oddly enough... a little more superheroes under Alan Moore by making him protector of the Green, and having a contunal cast of characters and home base.

    Yet, there would likely have not been a Karen Berger's Vertigo without Wein's editing on both Saga of the Swamp Thing and Watchmen.
    Wolfman co-created the New Teen Titans. Which not only eventually became the unofficial template for mainstream DC...a mix of Marvel character study and DC pure heroism... but also created CRISIS. Crisis, which more than Secret Wars, is what both companies look to for their event books, that they have become dependent on.

    CLaremont, of course turned the X-Men from the bastard son of the Marvel Universe to the most popular book(s) the company out out. There was plenty of "New Hollywood" into1983, when God Loves Man Kills comes out.

    Of course, there is also the creation of Marvel Graphic Novels, mini series (at least for a while), direct market series, Epic Comics, and Berger edited books (later Vertigo), which took those weirder and more series stories that might feel more natural in the 70s an separated them. Sure, they were still a part of the companies, but they were also apart from them. Not unlike how Hollywood kept the artsy or more experimental movies being made, but they were not priority anymore. They were designated to certain times of the year, or what have you.