Magnus: Robot Fighter #1 Review

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Companies bringing back classic heroes have made the last few years a real joy for me. I again maintain that there are no bad characters, only bad treatments of them.

To see Dynamite Entertainment bringing back Turok, Magnus, Solar and Doctor Spektrum is something special for a long-term comics fan like me. I’m also fascinated that they are considered a group of their own under a “Gold Key” banner. Man, does that term bring back memories for me! And yes, I’m that old! The Gold Key characters come to Dynamite after a time at Dark Horse Comics, and a run as part of the Valiant universe in the ‘90s.

And who better than Dynamite to bring Magnus back, given their recent excellent record with classic characters?


MAGNUS: ROBOT FIGHTER #1
Writer:
Fred Van Lente
Art:
Cory Smith
Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment

Cover Price: $3.99

Previously in MAGNUS: “In the blink of an eye, young martial artist Magnus has everything taken from him…his father, his wife, his entire life. He’s suddenly thrust into a futuristic world he doesn’t understand, populated by humans and robots living together in oppression! Can Magnus fight to get his life back…and once he learns the truth about himself, will he want to?”

VAN LENTE IS WRITING HIGH AS A WRITER

As I read more and more of Fred Van Lente’s work, I’m impressed with the quality of it and his ability to pitch curve balls at me. For example, this comic starts out in a way I didn’t expect. With a “Robot Fighter” title, I expected big, shiny city there at the start. Nope, nothing close to it! We do get there, but we have to find out what’s going on in Magnus’ life first.

Speaking of that, even with all the Magus books I’ve read over the years, I never was quiet clear on his motivation. He was busting up robots left and right, but I didn’t understand why he was doing that while having a robot trainer.

Well, Mr. Van Lente clears all that up in the first few pages of what I’m convinced will be a landmark first issue. I finally get it now!

The script moves seamlessly from drama to action, all the while giving Magnus his due as the focus of this book.

Van Lente has written great comics I’ve loved a lot recently, including Archer & Armstrong from Valiant to Brain Boy from Dark Horse. When I see his name on a book, I buy it!

THE ART IS CLEAR AND EASILY UNDERSTOOD

Whether we’re looking into a rural classroom, a mechanic’s shop, a forest or a bustling, huge city, Smith’s art makes me feel like I’m actually there, watching the story in person.

The first thing that stood out to me was how, when we’re seeing life in the boonies, the coloring is more subdued. But when we arrive with Magnus in New York, the colors become a lot brighter and sharper. This made me think that life in the country was never real at all, especially when compared to city life.

I was also intrigued by the first time Magnus ventures out into the city. We see only the head, right arm and torch of the Statue of Liberty. The rest of New York City has grown up so tall that it overshadows Lady Liberty, with buildings towering above her. I didn’t expect that kind of future for NYC!

Smith also does a great job of portraying both action and facial expressions. When Magnus seeks help from a female robot, she asks him to read out loud a word on a screen. When that identifies Magnus as an unidentified human, the robot has a huge smile on her face, giving him a positive response on many levels even as robot soldiers are coming to arrest Magnus. Creepy!

The most ironic moment in the comic comes when Magnus is confronted by another human after taking down all the robots around him. I found that whole sequence fascinating because he expects Human-Hunter Leeja to side with him. Needless to say, she doesn’t, setting up the second issue.

BOTTOM LINE: It’s a Strong Reboot for Magnus, Just What We Need

Whether you’ve read Magnus before or not, by the end of the first issue, you understand the Robot Hunter very well, and I needed that!

We also are confronted by questions that need to be answered including Was Magnus’ past just an illusion? What makes Magnus so strong that he can shatter robots with just his hands? What happened to the other humans? What Leeja’s story?

Now that I “get” Magnus better than ever, I need to know the answers to these and more questions, so I am already anxious to read issue #2!

Not only am I going to be there for Magnus, I can’t wait for other Gold Key books to come my way. I’m catching up on Turok very soon as well, so kudos to Dynamite and these creators for grabbing me by the short and curlies and not letting go until I read these comics!