Monday, May 23, 2016

Professor X and Magneto: A Personal Shipping Manifesto: PART II [THE COMICS AND THE EVENTS THEREIN THAT DEFINED THEM]

For the second part of my Cherik manifesto, I bring you lovely people my recommendations in comics where their relationship is central and goddamn shippy as fuck! I wasn't really sure how to go about it because there is little rhyme or reason in the way I read and reviewed these Cherik-centric comics. I'd also like to believe that there are more wonderful comics which tackled Cherik, and I have yet to read, so that's definitely something to look forward to, right? In fact, I think Ultimate X-Men had a version of them that can be considered as explicitly 'shippy' than any other story in comics, but I feel a quiet dismay regarding that particular title in general, so I'm not that eager to pick up its line-up. Besides, I'm probably just going to focus solely on its Cherik aspect more than anything. Anyway, without further ado, here are the comics to check out for some Cherik action:


THE COMICS: Reinforcing the 'shippiness' factor


WHAT IS IT ABOUT: Magneto goes insane, and it's kind of Moira McTaggert's fault. Charles and the X-Men perform damage control as the rest of the world led by S.H.I.E.L.D wants to exterminate Magneto. The issues include the cheesetastic prose of Claremont nineties era which made everything from the dialogue to characters rather urgent and dramatic in delivery.


MEMORABLE QUOTES: Magneto to Charles: "I want him BROKEN. I want his heart to crack. I want him to choke with grief--as I did when I learned how my old and dear 'friend' betrayed me!" 

Rogue on Cherik: "You may use the same words but you don't speak the same language. I wonder if you ever did."


WHAT IS IT ABOUT: A love letter to Cherik relationship. Claremont is the writer who defined the X-Men canon and two of his contributions are characterizing Magneto as a Holocaust survivor, and Professor X and Magneto being old friends before they became enemies divided by their ideals. In Excalibur III, the former mutant haven Genosha has been decimated horrendously, it's presently in utter shambles while its mutant citizenry is clamoring for survival, searching for a leader to govern them. Charles Xavier made a decision to leave the X-Men behind  so he can go to Genosha, knowing they will survive without him. 

Now Charles runs away to Genosha and takes the corpse of the poser-Magneto with him so he can meet up with the real Erik who apparently faked his own death and has been hiding from the world since. I suppose they're both in Genosha to make amends with its people because they are considered the leaders of the mutant revolution no matter how much their views and methods clash. It's therefore a personal failure and injury to see such a civilization like Genosha become a wasteland because they were unable to save it. Now they feel obliged to fix that mistake together. So--if you think about it--they're keeping this all in clandestine mode, so neither the X-Men nor the Brotherhood know their whereabouts. BECAUSE THEY FUCKING ELOPED, OKAY?

MEMORABLE QUOTES: Charles to Erik: "Magneto is closer to me than my own brother. We're like bookends of the same soul"; "This is all it takes: our two hands clasped in fellowship, pledging to build something better"; "I believe in him, Stephen. To the core of my being, I believe he is fundamentally a good and decent man".

Erik to Charles: "Forgive me, Charles. Perhaps this is not the age of dreams or dreamers"; "Even after all that's happened, he remains my friend"; "Old patterns. Automatic responses.  This is the way it's always been between us."


WHAT IS IT ABOUT: This issue touched upon on some finer points concerning Magneto's character that I enjoyed being examined and analyzed. Claremont is not only credited for giving Erik Lehnsherr (Magnus, Max Eisenhardt) the personal backstory of being a Holocaust survivor, he is also responsible for fleshing out this former cookie-cutter villain of the sixties into a full-pledged riveting character readers care about and often even root for, whose internal moral struggle to lead or destroy has always been the driving force both for the noble and atrocious actions he has committed throughout his years in the active role and service of being a mutant avenger to some and an uncompromising terrorist to many. Magneto is not merely some comic book villain to hate; he's somebody you can understand and sympathize with especially for this specific timeline of Claremont's run where we get to see him acknowledge the error of his ways. 

I really love this issue. It was stirring, powerful and well-paced. There are great moments of dialogue and confrontations in the pages that kept me turning one after the next, all the while being thoroughly excited and dreadful for all the situations overlapping and connecting with each other especially once we reached the climax of the story. 

In the middle of an explosion underground, the only person Erik cared to save was Charles and he pulls him out to safety and into a garden of all places where the two estranged friends have an honest and moving conversation about second chances. What Charles and Erik have is a cycle of screw-ups and hurt feelings (NOT AN EXAGGERATION; no one fights and tries to destroy each other's love and faith in one another like Cherik) but ultimately theirs is a relationship about growth and forgiveness, of dreams and principles. It's a strong connection formed ages ago that could never be severed which is why Erik always come back to Charles like this (to the tune of Sara Bareilles' Gravity), and why Charles unquestionably gives him another fair chance because the truth is that even after all that ocean of death and violence between them, Charles still believes that Erik's inherent goodness will prevail. 

MEMORABLE QUOTES: Erik: "Suppose I fail and betray your dream." / Charles: "Our dream. And we'll never know if you don't try." / Erik: "I give you my word, Charles. Come what may, I will be true to it."


WHAT IS IT ABOUT: Fatal Attractions is a six-issued story arc comprised of (and in order of appearance): X-Factor #92, X-Force #25, The Uncanny X-Men #304, X-Men #25, Wolverine #75, and Excalibur #61. Those are six separate titles coming together to tell the story delivered in lieu of a Greek tragedy clusterfuck that is definitively Magneto, and as a tribute to the cheese-tastic soap opera awesomeness that is Claremont's literary signature for the X-Men. Basically, it's enjoyable with different shades of 'mildly sickening' and 'unforgivably heartbreaking', depending, of course, on how heavily invested you are about the fragile relationships among the mutant families. This story arc features Professor X and Magneto IN THEIR DARKEST, MOST GRUELING CONFRONTATION YET. I felt like crying in frustration and fear in a lot of pages. I was so heartbroken. Be warned.

MEMORABLE QUOTES: Charles to Erik: "If you will not take responsibility for yourself, Magneto, then so god help me, I will." 

Beast quotes Prometheus Unbound that contextualizes Charles' tumultuous relationship with Erik: "Why is it that you do not hate a god, whom the gods hate most of all? Why is it that you do not betray him, since it was your honor he betrayed to men?"

To which Storm responds with a continuation from the same play: "Our kinship has a strange power, that and our life together."

It was SPOT-ON in capturing Xavier's long-running justification as to why he still thinks Magneto could change; why he hasn't given up on the idea that his best friend will come back to him and they can work together; why he can forgive Magneto even when he least deserves it. That 'kinship' drives him to always find a better, humane way to communicate with Magneto, that and their history and dream together. Well, Magneto is now a super-mega douche who claims that their dream together is dead, and he's going around preaching absolute genetic cleansing of humans because he's unironically the new Hitler, so Professor X most certainly ain't gonna put up no more with his shit. AND THAT IS WHY THE STORY ARC HURTS SO MUCH.


WHAT IS IT ABOUT: Charles' bastard son borne from his old girlfriend Gabrielle Haller named David (otherwise known as the mutant Legion) decided to travel back to time in Israel where Charles and Erik first met. David blames Magneto for what happened to Charles' dreams after the Fatal Attractions storyline, and decides to kill Erik, thinking that by doing so, Charles will never have founded the X-Men and would instead settle down and get married with his mom. The four issues were filled with amazing dialogue and narrative concerning the depths of Charles and Erik's relationship even from the very start.

MEMORABLE QUOTES: Erik to Charles: "I should confide in him but it's been so long since I felt I could trust anyone. Why is it that every time I look into that man's eyes--he makes me feel as though I'm guilty of something?" / "Who am I to criticize? Is it jealousy? That he has Gaby--and each night I go to sleep and dream of my lost beloved, Magda? Why would I deny Charles a chance of happiness just because I refuse to dream of a better world?" / "You make me believe that all things are possible."

Charles to Erik: "I'm glad we met, my friend" ; "Any dream worth having is a dream worth fighting for." 


Age of Apocalypse by Scott Lobdell Book 2 and Book 4

WHAT IS IT ABOUT: These two books of the collection featured an alternate universe where Erik Lehnsherr bemoaned the loss of Charles Xavier. There are many, MANY panels in which he kept pining over his dead friend, leading me to believe that he had unrequited feelings for Charles, and now regretted not being able to tell him. The quotes are pretty sad because Erik can't seem to move on, and always reminisces of the dream and past he shared with Charles. He and Rogue were even married, but they named their son 'Charles' because that just goes to show that Erik's heart belongs to no one else but his old friend.

MEMORABLE QUOTE: Erik to Charles: "A good man once gave me faith that all things were possible. He preached a dream of harmony...and told me any dream worth having is a dream worth fighting for. He taught me well. Had I these long years to live over again, I might have made other choices. I might have done many things differently. But I would never have stopped fighting for the dream. That is your legacy, Charles Xavier. Now--as I hold my family to me before the end--I thank you for changing my life."


WHAT IS IT ABOUT: A collection of stories to celebrate the X-Men's 50th anniversary, the greatest surprise in this issue for me was the fact that it had a Professor X/Magneto story! And of course it was penned by Fabian Nicieza himself! If you don't know who this jerk is, then please refer to his nineties stories Fatal Attractions and Legion Quest as presented in this list, which are both tales of Cherik-centered madness and shippy angstiness that would render any Charles/Erik shipper such as myself angry, tearful and comatosed because of Nicieza's paradoxical pleasurable and agonizing depiction of these two dorks' relationship. 

After the death of Charles Xavier by the hands of Cyclops, I just don't understand why we never got to see Magneto grieve in some Claremont-esque manner where he'll be drinking scotch as he morosely looks at pictures of Charles back in the good old days, monologue-ing about how they could have had it all, etc. This issue doesn't touch upon that, but it does show us Charles' perspective during the events in Fatal Attractions.

MEMORABLE QUOTES: Charles to Erik: (see above posted quote)


WHAT IS IT ABOUT: Magneto comes to terms with the death of Xavier in issue #16 of this collected volume of Bendis' recently concluded run in the series The Uncanny X-Men. After the crap Scott and co. pulled when they were possessed by the Phoenix Force during the Avengers vs X-Men story, Magneto has lost control over his powers. He became weak and distracted. Mystique, however, pointed out that losing Xavier has made it impossible for him to gain back his powers to its fullest potential because the death of his truest friend is a loss that is so woefully meaningful that his own superior mutation died along with Xavier.

MEMORABLE QUOTE: (see above posted quote)


Charles Xavier and Erik (Magnus) Lehnsherr never had what any of us might call a 'conventional' relationship. Their mutual understanding from the beginning becomes a rather complicated rivalry in the next decades to follow where they constantly find themselves fighting on the opposite sides of a war neither of them would compromise for--not even for the sake of salvaging their friendship. It seemed at first--from the moment they realized they were both mutants--that their first meeting was destined to happen; only to ultimately lose each other in the long run once it became clear that their ideologies would keep on clashing when it came to establishing and fighting for mutant rights. 

I personally love the origin of their first meeting that was established in X-Men: First Class where Charles jumps from a ship without a second thought just so he can rescue this complete stranger, Erik, who was basically drowning himself while magnetically holding onto a submarine. Charles man-handles him and gets them to the surface of the ocean by communicating telepathically with Erik to just chill the fuck out and let go. Erik, frightened by the sudden mental link between them, was wary of him but Charles assures him that he's a fellow mutant and that they should totes become BFFs. Still shaken, Erik voices out that he thought he was alone and Charles disagrees and says otherwise. Henceforth, a beautiful relationship flourished between these two, a relationship steeped in unintentional subtext and tons of bromantic tear-jerker scenes for the rest of the film. IT WAS BREATHTAKING.

The comics, however, had a different story which is less shippy but nonetheless just as tragic. Ths is how it originally went down:

When Charles Xavier decided to work for a clinic for traumatized Holocaust victims in Haifa, Israel, he meets a man there going by the name of Magnus who was also a Holocaust survivor and a volunteer in the clinic. They became fast friends, but both are unaware at that point that they both secretly have mutations. In a memorable scene, it was depicted that they would have lengthy debates hypothesizing 'what will happen if humanity is faced with a new super-powered race of humans'. HYPOTHETICALLY is the key word here, as each one tries to gauge the ideology of the other. Charles was optimistic about the humans in general being able to accept this new race, but Magnus fervently disagreed. He had awful experiences in the Holocaust himself which was why he was so firm in the belief that "humanity will ultimately oppress the new race of humans as they have done with other minorities". There was nothing hypothetical about that testament.

The two friends eventually reveal their powers to one another when a bunch of Nazis kidnapped a catatonic patient (and Charles' girlfriend) named Gabrielle whatserface. Magnus attempts to kill the leader of that group but Charles stops him. That was when the friends realized that that their views on mutant-human relations are fundamentally incompatible, so Magnus leaves, taking some Nazi gold while he was at it. Charles, meanwhile stays in Israel for some time. He does break up with Gabrielle later on, but neither of them knew that he got her knocked up. That child will grow up to become the mutant Legion.

That said, Charles is also someone of a trusted equal to Magnus, who willingly opens up about his views concerning their own kind and who wants to do something for the betterment of other mutants, much like Magnus. However, as the story progresses, they also quickly learn that they ultimately differ in their methods and ideologies, and a barricade has once again forced Magnus away from intimacy. There had been no direct rejection coming from Charles and there didn't have to be. The mere knowledge that Charles disagrees with his socio-political views is enough declaration for Magnus that they could never form a closer bond but rather would have to grow apart. But, surprisingly enough, this doesn't discouraged either of them to try meeting halfway throughout the decades since; which was why, in the most ironic sense, every wedge and obstacle between them only serves to drive them closer together. Charles' admittance that "Any dream worth having is a dream worth fighting for" resonates even in the later decades when they have become embittered enemies on the opposing sides of a war that has destroyed the very things they admired and respected in each other. But neither of them has forgotten that they once shared a dream and that has kept them hoping that, someday, one will agree with the other's course of action and join him. 

Eventually, we readers will witness for ourselves that this inherent stubbornness in their dynamics will only deepen the chasm in their relationship, but it also paradoxically held them together. Basically, their desire to accomplish their respective crusades, even when they are in direct opposition against one another, is their only means to maintain a powerful connection as "frenemies". It's like a masochistic covenant where their trust and faith in each other has to tested over and over again.

This post would be updated yet again once I start reading more Cherik-centric material from the comics. There are still so many of them after all. For now, these are the comic book titles I could recommend to shippers who want to experience the tragic and sadomasochistic affair that is Cherik in the comics medium. You can find downloadable copies online.

In my next and final post for the manifesto entitled "Part III: The Fandom", I'll be making a list of some of the best fanfiction written out there about Cherik. They shall be known as my TOP 40 Picks. I would also include some fanmade music videos I myself made, as well as other fans; fan music mixes, and links to fan sites that are also devoted to the Charles/Erik pairing.

1 comment:

  1. Did you ever get around to writing the top 25 fan fic recommendation list? I am a brand new Cherik shipper looking for the good stuff to read. :)

    You can also contact me at if you have tumblr, I really want to see your rec list, because you seem to agree with me on exactly what makes this pairing so interesting.