I tried waiting for the story to come to a natural lull so I could review a couple of tales but things didn’t work out that way, so here’s my take on the first seven issues of this new comic.
Magneto has traditionally been a bad guy in the Marvel Universe, the natural enemy of Charles Xavier, even though they started out as the best of friends, they’ve ended up, over time, on opposite sides of the war. Magneto wants mutants to rise to their “natural level” and rule over normal humans, Xavier wants the opposite, for all sides to live in peace together.
This is certainly a somewhat different take on the character that explores him on a much more personal level. Therefore, let’s look at Magneto, the man, the myth, the comic book.
Magneto has been variously one of the most powerful mutants in the Marvel Universe and completely depowered. Following his contact with the Phoenix Force in the Avengers vs. X-Men event, he is left, stripped of his abilities, an outcast. Therefore, Magneto decides to take it on the road, hunting the enemies of mutants by himself, with very little in the way of resources, but more than enough hate for the job. This casts Magneto in a somewhat more sympathetic light, a man who has been beaten down in life, who has every reason to hate humanity for what it’s done to his species, yet he’s not a crazed psychopathic killer, just murdering humans for fun, he’s only taking out his wrath on those who have done demonstrable harm to mutant-kind.
Like a man on a budget, Magneto travels across the U.S. by car, staying in cheap motels, fighting criminals, or at least he considers them criminals, as best he can. Along the way, he runs into a low-budget Sentinel project, he finds an unexpected ally and he slowly starts to regain some of his powers. Oh, he’s certainly not a good guy by any means but he’s not the mass murderer he’s been in the past either. This is like Magneto Lite.
Cullen Bunn, who most recently has been writing Deadpool minis, gets right to the heart of the matter, nailing a lot of the quieter side of Magneto and letting us into the mind of a man possessed, with good reason to be. The art by Gabriel Hernandez Walta and Jordie Bellaire has a raw quality to it that’s very fitting to the story. It’s not your typical superhero fare but Magneto isn’t a superhero so it works. I think Bunn goes a bit overboard with the exposition to start, but since this is a totally new take on Magneto and people need to see it from this new perspective, that can be easily forgiven and from there, it moves at a very streamlined, exciting pace.
I’m interested to see where Bunn sees Magneto going in the future. We have a world-weary man with very few powers, at least compared to his former self, trying to fight the good fight and defend his people, even when most of his people don’t want him around. Magneto is an anti-hero here, convinced in his own mind that he’s doing the right thing, and he might actually be doing the right thing, in a world that generally hates and fears him. That’s an odd mix to start with, it can either go very well or it can go very badly. I’m hoping for well, that’s why, unexpectedly, I’m really on board for this title. Magneto isn’t my favorite baddie by far but this take on him could be really good and I’m hoping it is.