Wednesday brings the first issue of Magnus Robot Fighter from Fred Van Lente and Dynamite Comics, part of their Gold Key Universe revamp campaign. Originally created by Russ Manning in 1963 and published by Gold Key Comics, Magnus has been rebooted by Valiant Comics, Acclaim Comics, and Dark Horse Comics over the last two decades. Personally I had never read or even heard for that matter anything about Magnus until it was announced last year at NYCC that Van Lente would be involved in the project.
The story starts out in Maury’s Peak, where robots and humans are living together peacefully. Russell Magnus is a teacher/coach at the local public school and is married to a mechanic named Moira who only just recently discovered that she is carrying their first child. This is where the tranquility ends however as the town is suddenly attacked by robots from North Am. Magnus is captured and transported to an undisclosed location where he has been separated from his robot and lifelong mentor 1A, who is being accused of the crime “deviation against the singularity” and is being recalled and excommunicated. This city where Magnus finds himself seems to be populated by a robot majority where the many humanoids we do see appear to be androids, and he is left fighting not just for his life but for the life he once knew.
In this Magnus universe, Leeja Clane (who historically was the girlfriend of Magnus) is referred to by the hostile robots as “Marshal Clane” and “human hunter” and the issue concludes with a showdown between Magnus and Clane. The North Am territory is a theocracy that is run by the Church of Singularity, a religious legislative body that the robots worship and a place where every known human must be registered.
The architects of this world should be credited to both the artist Cory Smith (TMNT: Karai) and colorist Mauricio Wallace, who bring to life both Maury’s Peak and North Am with vivid detail and evocative imagination. They present the readers with illustrations that are elaborate but well-managed. With that being said, in order for a comic book to be successful, it must incorporate a compelling story. Thanks to Fred Van Lente, the first issue of Magnus Robot Fighter has that as well as plenty of action. Van Lente’s impressive resume (Archer & Armstrong, Action Philosophers) has already established him as one of the most respected writers in the industry. His style of writing invokes ingenuity which is clearly evident in this rendition of Magnus.
The Good: Smart crisp writing with fantastic illustrations. Lot’s of action and fun!
The Bad: Assumes the reader is already familiar with the Magnus universe.
Overall Rating: 9 out of 10