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In the classic genealogy of the superhero, trauma is often the explanation or motivation for the hero 's pursuit of justice or revenge. Origin stories for superheroes and supervillains frequently appear in the plots of comic books long after the characters were created and with the shift in the stable of artists involved, different and sometimes competing events in the characters' biographies are revealed. This is particularly true of series that have enjoyed long periods of popularity or those that were phased out and then later revived. The stimulus for this m1icle was the origin story conceived for the X-Men supervillain Magneto under Chris Claremont's plotting, after the series was resurrected in 197 5 and by the foregrounding of Magneto's Holocaust past in the opening sequence to Bryan Singer's 2000 filmX-Men. I was fascinated by the explanation of Magneto's hatred for humankind and how the Holocaust was used to justify his desire for revenge. This fascination led to a further investigation of how and where the Holocaust has been appropriated as a device to legitimize or complicate the quest for vengeance and retribution in American comic books.

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Copyright © 2004, John A. Lent, Ed & Pub. This article first appeared in International Journal of Comic Art 6:2 (2004), 182-194.

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