Magneto #1

by Tori B. on March 06, 2014

Magneto been the bad guy and he’s kind of been the good guy too. Either way he has yet to achieve a semblance of what he wants, so perhaps it’s time for him to take a (kind of) new approach.
Writer: Cullen Bunn
Artists: Gabriel Hernandez Walta, Jordie Bellaire
Cover: Paolo Rivera
Publisher: Marvel
I’m not sure if it was the X-Men: First Class (XMFC) film that kick-started the need for this, but looking at the direction that Bunn seems to be taking Magneto, it’s the Magneto title we’ve all been waiting for/needed to see. Often a Magneto solo means angsting on his tragic past, and while this new series isn’t any more optimistic in tone, it seems to be a progressive step forward for Erik in trying to dwell less on the past and being proactive about how he wants to see his future and the future for mutant kind. Of course, that doesn’t mean he has to be nice about it.
Similarly to the early scenes of XMFC in which we see Erik traveling abroad on a mission to hunt down Shaw and Nazi-hunting along the way, Magneto takes a similar journey to find individuals who have wronged mutants in some way or another and gives them their due, often through rather violent methods; this is Magneto after-all, passiveness isn’t his strongest suit. So far, this sort of plotline seems to serve in Magneto’s favour, grabbing the attention of fans. A small amount of espionage, with of course high dosages of a Magneto that everyone’s familiar with, paranoid, slightly dramatic, and cruel to those whom he seeks justice against in the name of mutant kind. Those who were worried he might have gotten soft in his years spent amongst the X-Men need not fear. Using a word like villainous seems wrong, undoubtedly what he’s doing is viscious, but Bunn seems to capture the dichotomy of Magneto that makes him such a compelling character to begin with. For all his cruelty, we understand where he’s coming from as well, and can almost sympathize. He’s not totally wrong. And while the X-Men hasn’t softened him, it seems that Xavier’s death as well as the events of AVX have called for him to tone down on the dramatics a little bit, giving him a bit more of a noir feel to his solo series. There are newspaper clippings on motel walls and inconspicuous station wagons, a bit of a refreshing pace for the villain who had converted an entire asteroid as a base of sanctuary for himself and other mutants who wanted to join him.
He’s a solo act now doing what he thinks is the best plan of action in the fight for mutants and it’ll be interesting to see how it plays out some more throughout the series.
While it looks like Bunn has a handle for Magneto’s character, capturing him visually seems to be a bit more of a challenge. Walta’s art is fairly strong, and tied with Bellaire’s wash of colours, the ambience of spy-terrorist-killer is perfectly set. It just seems difficult without Magneto’s signature silver hair or helmet, it’s hard to recognize him—which is acknowledged and works to his benefit ultimately. But while we’re getting glimpses of nefarious Magneto, it’d be nice to see glimpses of that come through physically as well, and as soon as the helmet slips back on, everything clicks back into place. Also the black get up with the jacket looks super sharp.
It’s not an earth shattering or gripping #1 issue to kickstart a new series, but considering the lead character; I can’t imagine having a #1 to be explosive in setting the tone. Everyone is aware of who Magneto is and what his story is. He’s also been a constant on the Uncanny title. Magneto #1 reads more like a transition chapter taking him from team player to renegade agent in his free time. Perfect for those who are fans of Magneto, fans of the Nazi-hunting scenes from XMFC, or want to grab at a title that strays away from your usual superhero story. A little bit dulled from our normal superpowers series but that’s probably just what Magneto needs right now.
Often a solo title focuses on someone a little more ‘heroic’ and it’s nice to see a series that’s less so, though I imagine overtime as we spend more time with Erik, we’ll warm up to his line of thinking and start seeing him as less cruel and more just. After all, throughout all these years there’s one thing that has never changed about Magneto, he’s always been pragmatic.

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