Rating: 4.5/5 – A Magnetically Attractive Series.
by ComicSpectrum reviewer Hank Johnson.
One of the highlights for me in the X-Men First Class movie was the scene in which Magneto was tracking down and getting revenge on his former Nazi captors. For the first time in the X-Men movie franchise Magneto went from being a cardboard cutout villain to the complex character portrayed in the comics. The current Magneto series captures this complexity brilliantly. Writer Cullen Bunn’s story focuses on Magneto playing detective searching for the entity responsible for the current threat posed to the mutant population in the Marvel Universe. What I really enjoyed about Bunn’s story is that Magneto is portrayed as an intellectual solving the current challenges he faces in getting to the bottom of his case. The best Magneto stories for me usually focus on his philosophical approach to the mutant problem of the day. The problem is that sometimes writers treat Magneto as a philosopher only, and do not focus on the intellectual approach to that philosophy.
This issue uses flash backs to World War II era Germany and shows some of the cruelty Magneto suffered from the Nazis which helped shaped his ideological leanings. Bunn’s use of the flashback was absolutely perfect in tone, realism, and significance. It was on par with Greg Pak’s seminal work, X-Men: Magneto Testament. If you liked that series, you should like this book as well. While the focus is different, the elements of character still shine through.
The difference I see between Magneto and the other X-Universe characters is that he believes he has pure motives. However he is not afraid to do what is necessary to protect his people from harm. The concluding scene in this book was a clear example of this dichotomy. I was a bit taken aback by the sheer level of brutality in the concluding scene. I am not particularly squeamish or prudish, but the combination of story pace and Gabriel Hernandez Walta’s art bought the brutality home to me with a sledgehammer impact. Walta’s art throughout the book was exceptional. He has a unique style that, in my opinion, really compliments the story being told. The flashback scenes were drawn beautifully and the action scenes were dynamic and had a great sense of movement.
The unsung hero of this book is Jordie Bellaire on colors. Her choice of colors are some of the best I have seen. They range from monochromatic panels that are pitch perfect for the scenes to an afternoon outside where the color choices add an extra dimension of emotion to the page. Color artists don’t often get the credit they deserve and Bellaire is due high praise for her work on this series. I don’t think this book would be the same without her contribution.
This book is one of my favorite X-Universe titles currently being printed. Bunn, Walta, and Bellaire are doing some of their best work. This character exploration piece is a great compliment to the Uncanny X-Men series, but completely stands on its own as well. You don’t need a Ph.D. in X-Men history to enjoy this series, just a willingness to take the plunge and give it a try it. This book is a shining example of what talented, creative individuals can do when left free to tell a story not bogged down in X-Men continuity. It has an exceptional story, beautiful art and colors that provoke emotional responses and really enhance the mood of the book. I can’t wait to see the next issue.
Reviewed by: Hank Johnson
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