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In Marvel's Secret Wars miniseries (1985), issue #2, Magneto sneaks into the heroes' base and flies to the generator, thinking:

There it is -- ! The power core which energizes this entire installation! This should serve my purpose!

Magneto at power core

Soon after, Spider-Man's danger sense alerts him to the intrusion, and a group of other heroes rush to confront Magneto. Magneto topples some equipment on them, thinking, "This is not working out as I'd planned!", and tries to fly away. He winds up capturing the Wasp in a steel ball, and carries her away as he escapes, thinking:

Perhaps I should abandon my first plan! I have a better one -- now that I've captured the wasp!

Magneto flies with steel ball carrying Wasp, chased by Thing

Was it ever explained or revealed what Magneto's original purpose was, beyond interfering with the power core? What was it?

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The motivation for disrupting the power generator was evidently to create a diversion that would bring most of the heroes running to that location. This was apparently a means to an end though, not an end in itself.

MAGNETO: Hmm... yes... it will be very easy to manipulate the flux of this fusion generator -- creating an impending catastrophe -- a diversion which should bring most of the heroes running here! Which will make it simple to accomplish my goal!

Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars #2

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As you noted, Spider-Man detected his presence earlier than he anticipated, and this led to him being confronted by several heroes, most of whom he managed to contain with large masses of metal. He clearly indicated that things weren't going to plan at this point, but that he still had unfinished business.

HAWKEYE: There he is! Grab him!

CAPTAIN AMERICA: No! Look out! He's toppling those equipment banks!

MAGNETO: None may touch the person of Magneto!

CAPTAIN AMERICA: Iron Man! She-Hulk! Brace that stuff up or we'll be crushed!

MAGNETO: This is not working out as I'd planned! No matter! That will hold them until my business here is finished!

Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars #2

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Shortly after, he decided to abandon his first plan altogether, and instead depart with the Wasp as his captive, but he didn't reveal what his main objective in invading the heroes' base actually was.

I think the key to understanding what his main objective was lies in the fourth issue. In that issue, the X-Men arrive at Magneto's base to propose an alliance with him, independent of the non-mutant heroes, and Magneto replies that he'd been discussing precisely that with the Wasp, which suggests he'd been entertaining this idea for some time.

PROFESSOR X: Good morning, Magnus! I have come to discuss joining forces! I believe it may be mutually advantageous to forget our various differences and work together! As a force independent of that under Captain America's command, there is much good we might do!

MAGNETO: How interesting! Janet -- perhaps you know her better as the Wasp, leader of the Avengers -- Janet and I have been discussing precisely that!

Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars #4

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It seems that Magneto was potentially willing to work with the non-mutant heroes as well, but only if they agreed with his view that they needed to proactively slay all the non-mutant villains, rather than fighting a defensive battle against them. If the non-mutant heroes refused to go along with this, then Magneto believed they too would need to be slain.

MAGNETO: "Slay your enemies, and all you desire shall be yours!" That is what the Beyonder told us when he placed us here! After seeing his power demonstrated, I believe him! Therefore we must take an aggressive role--! Unlike Captain America and his allies, we must not fight a defensive battle! We must slay Doctor Doom and his lackeys! And if Captain America's company does not see the wisdom of our course -- if they do not join with us, or worse, if they oppose us -- we must slay them as well!

Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars #4

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In light of all that, I think Magneto's main goal in invading the heroes' base was to make contact with the X-Men, in order to propose this alliance with them. He likely hoped to distract the non-mutant heroes with the power generator, so that he could reach the X-Men without their knowledge.

But when they caught him in the act, that became much more difficult, and he apparently decided he was better off kidnapping the Wasp, and then persuading her of the merits of killing the non-mutant villains, as a stepping stone towards a prospective alliance with the X-Men, and perhaps the non-mutant heroes as well.

She was never on board with this, of course, and simply played along with him for a while, before making her escape.

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His original plan was to disrupt the power core to occupy the heroes as seen on a panel in between.

Magneto internally narrating his plan to disrupt the power core

Hmm... yes... it will be very easy to manipulate the flux of this power generator --
-- creating an impending catastrophe -- a diversion which should bring most of the heroes running here!
Which will make it simple to accomplish my goal!

It failed due to Spider-Man's Spider Sense notifying him too quickly, resulting in the heroes getting there before Magneto could leave, resulting in him having to fight his way out.

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    That's not his goal, though, just a step towards accomplishing it -- he wants to disrupt the core as a diversion, distracting the heroes while he completes his real goal. I don't know if we ever find out what that was.
    – ToxicFrog
    Oct 21, 2021 at 16:51
  • @ToxicFrog: Agreed. But I think this does answer the question.
    – FuzzyBoots
    Oct 21, 2021 at 16:52
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    I'd agree with @ToxicFrog, the quote here still leaves an unresolved, "make it simple to accomplish my goal!". The question is specifically what was that goal, and I (OP) wouldn't be able to select this as an answer to that. Oct 21, 2021 at 16:54
  • @DanielR.Collins: That's fair. I'd assumed you were asking why he targeted the power core rather than his overall plan. :)
    – FuzzyBoots
    Oct 21, 2021 at 16:56
  • Well, maybe in Secret Wars: Beyond 3-D, which coud have been released only to limited direct market, you learned that the real plot of the whole mini-series is because a psychic vampire was eating the metaverse, and Magneto was trying to obtain a story-powered Megazord to combat the fact that the self-assembling hyper-story was trying to destroy reality. Or maybe, it just wasn’t explained properly. Oct 21, 2021 at 18:34

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