In front of Krakoa’s ruling body, Magneto just verbally broke one of Marvel’s most despised mutants — and it’s glorious.
WARNING: The following contains spoilers for S.W.O.R.D. #5 by Al Ewing, Valerio Schiti, Marte Gracia and VC’s Ariana Maher, on sale now.
The modern era of Krakoa has shifted the ideals and moralities of plenty of the X-Men, even some of those who once counted themselves among the team’s most dedicated enemies. One major mutant seems to have decided to prove he’s gone through such a transformation, not just to himself and his allies, but to a potential enemy as well.
And in S.W.O.R.D. #5, Magneto, with the help of S.W.O.R.D.’s new recruit Khora, just got the chance to fully humiliate his former ally Fabian Cortez in front of the entire Quiet Council.
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Magneto has a complicated history in the Marvel Universe, shifting over the years from one of the world’s greatest threats to an unlikely protector. Along the way, his views on the necessity of death have changed as well. But in the modern era, Magneto is once again trying to rein in his darker impulses towards the human race who’ve so often attacked mutants across the world. Things seemed to shift somewhat though when Magneto was met by his former Acylote, Fabian Cortez. A sleazy but smooth talker, the power-boosting Cortez previously expressed his ambitions for a world of mutant superiority and tried to manipulate Magneto while claiming to serve him.
During King in Black, it looked like Cortez was getting through to Magneto by complaining about humans causing the chaos. After Cortez was killed in the event, Magneto demanded that he be revived so that he could speak to the Quiet Council. But any fears that Magneto might accept and embrace these old violent ways prove to be unfounded. Upon being revived — and ordered to come before the Quiet Council while still naked and dripping in his gooey afterbirth — Cortez makes the case that human life is far more worthless than Krakoa has decided they are. But instead of swaying the Quiet Council, Cortez is met with a wall of resistance. Peepers, who Magneto invited to sit with the Council as an honored guest, infuriating Cortez, saw Cortez for the cruel man he truly is.
While Magneto admits there might be nuances to the law addressing issues of manslaughter and negligence worth revisiting, he’s quick to point out the difference between killing someone and murder. But Magneto stands by the laws of Krakoa and accepts the reality that if he murdered someone with intent in this era, he would happily enter exile within the heart of Krakoa. On top of that, he asks Cortez if the slights he perceives humanity having subjected him to can even compare to the pain that Magneto has been through over the years. This sends Cortez into a panic as he tries to argue that he’s crucial to the future of Krakoa, only to learn that Khora of the Burning Heart from Arakko has replaced him in the Six, thanks to her fundamentally similar powers to his.
The Quiet Council breaks for the day around a confused and humiliated Cortez. Emma Frost mocks Magento’s “upstart” — a reference to the murderous ’90s cabal that once included Cortez — and even the typically empathetic Charles Xavier casually insults him while talking to his former flame, Amelia Voght. It’s a brutal verbal takedown of Cortez before he could really become a threat to anyone. It’s also fitting that it was Magneto, the same mutant who Cortez had long proclaimed to idolize even when planning to betray him for power, who did so. It was even done in such a petty way at first, forcing Cortez to speak in public while naked, only to turn the tables and make a series of hard points against him, and introducing his replacement.
While some feared that Magneto would be tempted to indulge in his darker side, he showed genuine restraint during the Quiet Council meeting. Even the few things he thought were worth discussing in Cortez’s arguments weren’t pressed — with Magneto instead volunteering to shelve those discussions until a full Quiet Council can be called to discuss the matters. It’s a huge step for Magneto in proving that he has changed for the better in the era of Krakoa. This could prove to Charles Xavier that Magneto is at least growing enough to put aside his personal feelings to be a more effective leader in government.
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