Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Journalism and Media Studies

First Committee Member

Benjamin Burroughs

Second Committee Member

David Nourse

Third Committee Member

Gary Larson

Fourth Committee Member

Jarret Keene

Number of Pages



Created in 1963 by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, the X-Men property has extended beyond comic books over the last 30 years into television and film among other mediums. The initial premise of the canon, that mutants gifted with inherent superpowers were feared and hated by normal humans, has served as an allegory for discrimination against minorities on the basis of race, religion, and sexual orientation. Chris Claremont, the primary author of the X-Men from 1975-1991, did significant work introducing Judaism into the metaphor, in large part by making the series’ primary antagonist, Magneto, a Holocaust survivor working to prevent mutants from suffering the same plight. In 2003, Grant Morrison made an effort to push Magneto back toward the roots of the character as a charismatic terrorist that would later be overruled by Claremont and others. The 2008 work X-Men: Magneto Testament firmly rooted the character’s history in the Holocaust. Scholarly readings of X-Men range in opinion on the portrayal of Magneto and the Holocaust from empowering to exploitative in regards to the real-world victims of the event. This paper will use textual analysis of primary sources (comic books, television, and film) featuring Magneto and the X-Men as well as a variety of scholarly works and interviews to determine how the use of the Holocaust has shaped the character in various media. Further, this thesis will use an analogy related to Maus author Art Spiegelman by Marshall McLuhan about the “tug of war” between the vulgar and the genteel in comics and how Magneto embodies that struggle when it comes to the trauma of the Holocaust and the use of reprisal by its victims.


Comic books; Holocaust; Stan Lee; X-men


Broadcast and Video Studies | Journalism Studies

File Format


File Size

462 KB

Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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