X-Men: Black: Magneto #1 Review

by Charles Martin on October 03, 2018

X-Men: Black: Magneto #1 Review
Chris Claremont
Penciller: Dalibor Talajić
Inkers: Roberto Poggi & Belardino Brabo
Colourist: Dono Sánchez-Almara
Letterer: Joe Caramagna

Zac Thompson & Lonnie Nadler
Artist: Geraldo Borges
Colourist: Rachelle Rosenberg
Letterer: Cory Petit

Publisher: Marvel Comics

Yo, I'm just here for the Claremont, and I expect almost everybody who picks up this book - particularly in exchange for hard-earned moolah - is in a similar boat.

Is this little treat worth $5? Almost.

At its best, this issue turns Magneto into a formidable vehicle for discussing mutant rights and puts Chris Claremont squarely behind the wheel. Mutant rights, of course, always boil down to human rights. And what current human rights events might draw Mr. Claremont's interest?

That's right, it's a one-shot about Magneto liberating a "detention center" full of mutant kids in Texas! Buckle up!

The script here is really a gem. The core liberation story is enhanced with an opening cafe scene that beefs up Magneto's personal connection to the politics. A little narrative trickery even allows us to get at least a few pages of classic Magneto vs. X-Men combat into the mix.

But this story ultimately boils down to making a political statement. It dives deep into American ideals and the betrayal thereof. It recognizes Magneto's link to the Holocaust and the way it surely shapes his thinking here - without turning that connection into the whole story. 

It also offers a bittersweet conclusion. Magneto stirs up some hope, but he also leaves behind dedicated enemies. This battle goes to the mutants, but the war is emphatically not over.

The Magneto story receives a decent artistic presentation. The action scenes carry the story along well, and the caricatured faces are expressive. The fact that this is a one-shot is both a blessing and a curse to the art team. It's okay that the two new supporting characters aren't too visually memorable, because we probably won't see them again. On the "curse" side, the brief opportunity to draw a legendary 80s X-Men roster is fumbled. There's a goofy Storm face in there that's likely to stick in your memory in the worst possible way.

Your five bucks buy you an Apocalypse B-story, too. This is a quick little affair that presents Big Blue on his own, doing the sort of things an Apocalypse do. To be specific, he's conducting horrible experiments on human guinea pigs in search of a cure for death.

The whole thing is narrated in Apocalypse's own voice, which is a trial. It's dusty, dry, and over-philosophical. The story is so closely-bound to Apocalypse's point of view that you risk missing the essential stupidity he's showing. He's trying to escape the curse of mortality, but his narration casually touches on two attributes that already make him immortal.

There's no rule against characters being stupid and unobservant. Those are even desirable traits for villains. I just worry that with the story settled so firmly on Apocalypse's shoulders, the absurdity of his motivations might pass without the mocking recognition it so richly deserves.

The visuals for the Apocalypse story are fairly strong. They have a lively, sketchy style that feels like a classic euro-comic. The colouring work is a little overwhelming. Apocalypse demands a lot of blue, of course, but that colour is continued a bit too far into his surroundings and the events that overtake him. The singular palette risks overwhelming some of the delicate details in the linework.

Structural note: Apocalypse's story is broken up into chunks that will spread over all of the X-Men: Black books. This is just an opening act; Big Blue's tale will continue in XMB Mojo next week.

This issue delivers a classic Claremont political statement. It demonstrates again (like there was any doubt!) that the mutant struggle is eternally relevant and applicable to our own world. The B story launches an ongoing Apocalypse tale in a rather dry way. Both strips get solid but unspectacular art. Overall, it's an entertaining book, but it falls well short of must-read territory.

Our Score:


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Charles Martin's picture
I'm afraid the Apocalypse story was not nearly strong enough to overcome my personal aversion to Mojo and get me pumped for the next installment of X-Men Black.