It is amazing the difference a title can bring. The launch of the Gold Key imprint at Dark Horse was heralded by two titles, Doctor Solar and Magnus, Robot Fighter. They debuted on FCBD in 2010 to quite a bit of fanfare and nervous anticipation. But, did the books live up to the fanfare?
The execution of Doctor Solar was so flawed and so bungled that I gave it a horrible thrashing. From clumsy writing to horrendous art, I had difficulties even making it through the book. There was little redeeming quality and it seems destined to be on my Worst of the Year list.
So, with all that on my mind, I must admit that it was with some trepidation that I picked up Magnus, Robot Fighter. It was written by Jim Shooter (same as Solar…not a selling point), with art by an entirely different crew (couldn’t be any worse). Magnus has been plagued by even more delays than Solar, and, as of this writing, appears to have been canceled by Dark Horse. This is unfortunate as Magnus was a far superior title to Solar and was/is worthy of of saving.
“The continent-spanning city of North Am is a miracle of ingenuity and ambition, a technological paradise where mile-high skyscrapers pierce the clouds and robots perform virtually all labor. But in the shadows of the “milespires,” human mobsters use robot muscle to terrorize the North Am citizenry. Human trafficking, illegal psychoactive substances, violent crime, and corrosive corruption are suddenly epidemic in the glittering utopia, with only Magnus, the mighty Robot Fighter, to stand against them.”
It would have been tempting for Shooter to turn Magnus in to a treatise on the meaning of “life” and the dilemma of what someone does when they are bred to be a killing machine. Blah. Blah. Blah. Instead, Magnus is a rip-roaring yarn about a guy who destroys the bad robots of the world
Magnus is a throwback to a different age. The storytelling is briskly paced and dense. Plenty happens in each issue, with both action and plot tearing along so quickly that there is not enough time to think too much about it. Magnus is pure entertainment, which is what is should be.
Magnus is an example of what comics should be. Each issue was accessible. There was some sort of recap or explanation of powers, characters, and the plot with each issue. I really got the feeling that each issue could have been someone’s first. It was not over the top or brow-beating. It was an invitation to enter in to the world of Magnus.
There is a timeless feel to Magnus. He should exist in a world that is both alien and familiar. Bill Reinhold and Stephen Thompson create visuals that are at once reminiscent of the Valiant era of Magnus, while at the same time fresh and dynamic. Like the writing, it is classic storytelling recreated for a modern audience.
The first, and probably only, volume of Magnus is out from Dark Horse. Do yourself a favor and pick it up. see what could have been.
Interested in a preview? There’s one right here!