Magneto #1 Review

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One of Marvel’s oldest villains, Magneto has been back and forth across the ‘Hero/Villain’ line half a dozen times.  Now a member of the very hero team he used to oppose, Magneto has struck out on his own to deal with unfinished business from his days as a “mutant terrorist.”  Your Major Spoilers review of Magneto #1 awaits!

Magneto1CoverMAGNETO #1
Writer: Cullen Bunn
Artist: Gabriel Hernandez Walta
Colorist: Jordie Bellaire
Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit
Editor: Daniel Ketchum
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: $3.99

Previously in Magneto:  As the founder of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, Magneto was already feared around the globe by the time Charles Xavier fielded a team of teenagers to stop him.  His message that mutants should be feared and respected was a divisive one for years, but as the young X-Men aged, more and more of them have come to see his point of view, even welcoming him into their ranks.  Now, Magneto is a team member of several years standing, but he has discovered that he still has unfinished business…

I KNOW THAT TOWN!

We open with a shocked barista, sitting in a ruined coffee shop, explaining to the police of a murder that he just witnessed, a strange affair during which he heard the murderer accuse the local doctor of “genetic genocide” before impaling him with several street signs.  It’s a really haunting open, made even more so by the roughness of the pencilled art, then we cut to a tiny rural hotel room…

…IN THE TOWN I GREW UP IN.  Holy schnikies, that caught me by surprise.  Aaaaanyway, Magneto has come to a Super 8 motel in Beloit, Kansas (!!!) to hide out while he tracked down his victim, a man who has donated large amounts of money to anti-mutant causes.  Using low-tech means and his own not-quite-functioning powers (Magneto is still having control issues in the wake of his actions during ‘Avengers Vs. X-Men’), he has been seeking out those who perform hate crimes on mutants, bringing them the justice he thinks they deserve.  It’s an interesting take, and one that hammers home the fact that this is a man who has no scruples in stopping those he believes are wrong.  Of course, since he’s targeting those who have murdered mutants, it’s hard to say whether killing them is evil or just desserts. Pretty heady stuff, there…

WITH MUTANT POWER, COMES MUTANT RESPONSIBILITY

The issue then takes Magneto to the West Coast, on the trail of a young man who claims he “lost control” and murdered three mutants without knowing why.  It’s kind of fascinating to read this and realize that Bunn has taken the seeds of what Stan Lee (and dozens of others since then, admittedly) created with the character, and turned him into a dark mirror of Spider-Man, placing Magneto in another classic Marvel mold.  But, even though he’s seeking justice for that which has come before, he’s still the same Magneto who ruled Asteroid M, who took over the Savage Land, who sank that Russian sub full of relative innocents…  There’s no attempt to white-wash his misdeeds, which I enjoy.  Artistically speaking, Gabriel Walta’s Magneto is riveting, his head shaved like his late friend Charles, but still possessing the wild eyebrows and piercing eyes that were Magneto’s trademark for years, peering out of that big red helmet.  There’s a roughness to Walta’s pencils that doesn’t always work in this issue, but when it does (such as when Magneto strolls into a police station, and goes all ‘coyote-on-the-freeway’ with all the loose metal in sight) it’s pretty impressive stuff.  As the story ends, Magneto has discovered that the young mutant-murderer is much more than he seems, and that mystery seems to be our hook for the title…

THE BOTTOM LINE: THIS IS *GOOD*

I was a bit surprised at how much I liked this issue, and how easy it was to get inside the head of a guy that I still think of as ‘crazy mutant bad guy with killer look.’  Magneto obliquely references all the barnacles of his back story without forcing me to accept them all, without trying to retcon away things that may or may not work in modern storytelling, but makes me appreciate what the character is: The sum of decades of adventures, in and out of universe.  Though occasionally unsteady, the art is never less than good, and the characterization works within a bigger story, one which seems interesting.  In short, Magneto #1 is an impressive launch for a book that I wasn’t sure needed to exist, making me want to read more, earning 4 out of 5 stars overall.  If next issue is this good, I’ll be adding Magneto to my pull list, something I *never* thought I’d ever say…