Someone on failfandomanon asked for comics recs to learn about Magneto at his morally ambiguous best, and I spent a half an hour typing a huge ass long answer and was late to meet a friend >_>. Anyway, I’ve cleaned it up and clarified some stuff and decided I might as well share it here:
In order of chronology of the character
Magneto - Testament by Greg Pak: Magneto’s youth during the Shoah. Very good and heartbreaking. Highly Reccomended.
Classic X-Men #12 (A Fire in the Night) by Claremont: After the war Magneto tries to settle in Ukraine with his wife & child. It does not go well. Essential reading.
Uncanny X-Men #161 by Claremont: Magneto meets Charles Xavier in a hospital in Israel. It goes well until it doesn’t. Essential reading.
Classic X-Men #19 (I, Magneto) by Claremont: Magneto goes Nazi hunting for the CIA. It does not go well. Highly recommended.
Uncanny X-Men #150 by Claremont: Magneto tries to stop nuclear proliferation by threatening the world’s governments with his power. The first issue in which Claremont gave Magneto’s depth and recreated him as a Holocaust survivor.
God Loves, Man Kills by Claremont: Somebody is targeting mutants. Magneto seeks the X-Men to help. Highly recommended and fairly standalone.
Secret Wars by Shooter: An overly powerful entity decided to summon a bunch of villains and heroes and have them fight against one another for his entertainment. Magneto was summoned among the heroes, to everybody’s shock. Not absolutely necessary but takes place in the lapse of time when Magneto was getting more nuanced and Xavier was using the chance to try to convince his friend to amend his way. Lots of other cool stuff in it otherwise (Doom is the star of this show tho).
Uncanny X-Men #196 by Claremont: Magneto chats with Rachel, who came from the future in which Magneto’s worst nightmares happened.
Uncanny X-Men #199 by Claremont: Kitty takes Magneto to a Holocaust survivors reunion.
Uncanny X-Men #200 by Claremont: Magneto is put on trial. It does not go well. Both of those are highly recommended.
New Mutants v1 #21-75: Charles left Magneto in charge of the kids at his school. It does not go well. In particular issues #35, 38-40, 50-52 by Claremont are highly recommended. #60-61, 64, 73-75 by Louise Simonson for how it goes to hell, but I don’t much like Simonson’s take on the character.
X-Men vs Avengers by Stern & Shooter: The Avengers question Xavier’s choice of substitute teacher. It does not go well.
X-Men vs the Fantastic Four by Claremont - Magneto tries to save Kitty Pryde’s life.
Uncanny X-Men 274-275 by Claremont - Magneto and Rogue in the Savage Land and old ghosts. Highly recommended.
X-Men 1-3 by Jim Lee and Claremont - Magneto’s descent into heartbreaking crazy villainy again and Claremont’s farewell to the X-Men for a while.
IGNORE SHITTY 90S EVENTS
Well, except for:
Legion Quest (Uncanny X-Men #320- X-Men #40- UXM 321 & XM-41) by Nicieza, Lobdell and Waid - Xavier’s crazy and crazy powerful son goes back in the past to Xavier and Magneto’s first meeting in Israel to try to kill Magneto before he becomes a supervillain. It does not go well.
X-Men Unlimited #2 by Nicieza – A story of vengeance and grief.
ANYWAY ON TO THE 00S
Excalibur v3 #1-14 by Claremont - Xavier and Magneto hang out in the ruins of Genosha. Not very good but very, very slashy.
House of M (main series) by Bendis - Magneto’s dream has been made true and replaced reality. His family is the stuff of Greek tragedy.
House of M - Civil War by Gage - How Magneto’s dream came true in the House of M alternate reality.
X-Men Legacy #208-210 by Carey - Xavier was shot in the head during the Messiah Complex events. A depowered Magneto helps him finding himself again.
Magneto gets repowered and then joins the X-Men who are living on an artificial island made of the ruins of Asteroid M off the coast of San Francisco and has declared themselves to be their own nation. Because if they’re copying him he might as well join them, ya know.
(This is Uncanny X-Men #516, but I don’t much like how this issue is written so it’s not highly recommended. OTOH I’m pretty fond of UXM #518-522, in which Magneto does his best to show his use to the X-Men).
Nation X #1 (The Ghost of Asteroid M) by Spurrier - Short story about Magneto settling in with the X-Men and especially their students
Uncanny X-Men #534.1 by Gillen - The X-Men ask their PR agent to deal with Magneto’s joining their team. Hilarity ensues.
X-Men Legacy #231-259 by Carey - Magneto as a member of Rogue’s team. Not always very Magneto focussed, but Carey writes one of the best Magneto outside of Claremont so… Also the Magneto/Rogue romance, if that rocks your boat.
Uncanny X-Men v2 #1-3 by Gillen – Magneto as a member of Cyclops new Extinction team, which he boasts as the world’s mightiest heroes, vs Sinister. Not essential, but has a couple of great Mags moments and is a great mood setting for that point of time in the X-Men.
Magneto: Not a Hero by Skottie Young - A mini about Magneto’s clone re-appearing and starting to kill people in his name. Highly recommended.
Uncanny X-Men v2 #13, #15-20 by Gillen - the Avengers and the X-Men went to war and a few of X-Men became the host of the Phoenix Force. Oh, also Sinister is attacking. What does Mags do?
Avengers vs X-Men – Consequences by Gillen - The Avengers won and the X-Men are on the run. What does Mags do?
All New X-Men #1-5 + Uncanny X-Men v3 #1-3, #8, #16, 21-22 by Bendis – Cyclops’ group of hunted X-Men try to a be a radical force for good for mutants and train new recruits. Magneto plays a dangerous game with SHIELD trying to uncover who is resurrected the Sentinel program.
Magneto v1 1-on going by Bunn - Magneto left Cyclops to go and hunt the enemies of mutantkind by himself. Very good and very dark.
No More Humans by Carey - Humans have mysteriously disappeared from earth, leaving only mutants. What does Mags do? Carey still writes the best Magneto outside of Claremont.
Outside of continuity:
X-Men – Mythos: A rewriting of the first mission of X-Men against the mutant terrorist Magneto.