by Etienne Paul, CMRO Editor
Written by Cullen Bunn with Art by Gabriel Hernandez Walta and Jordie Bellaire
Published: May 2015
Magneto has been on rather a roller coaster in this volume. His series hit some real highs back when it first started, but it was then dragged down by the behemoth that was AXIS. It was the best part of a truly terrible event comic, but as they say you cannot polish a turd no matter how hard you try*. Ever since then it has been on this undulating downwards slope towards either cancellation or collision with Secret Wars. That is until this issue.
I have never been particularly fond of the art style in this series, but I cannot fault it for its consistency. At a time where we have an artistic travesty called ‘Wolverines’ with a different penciler every week, Magneto has stayed true to Walta. It means that you know exactly what to expect every issue, but that it is going to be uninspiring and bland. However I realise that I have been horribly harsh to this series in my reviews and I will make up for it now. Yes, the art is quite plain and ‘ordinary’ but that is because the story is not. The juxtaposition between the banal and the craziness of this story is what keeps it grounded. When you have mad super-powers that we all take for granted (like ultimate control over magnetism) it is all too easy to go absolutely mad with the art with force beams everywhere, blurred CGI effects and 60’s style garish coloured costumes.
So – sorry Gabriel Hernandez Walta – I completely misjudged this comic for so long for what is clearly a attempt to bring some gritty realism to this book. I think the best compliment I can give you is that it worked so well it took me this long to realise it. The story in this issue done any other way would have lost so much in garish displays and the pivotal subtle moment would have been utterly lost by it.
Conversely to Walta, I have always been a fan of Cullen Bunn, probably started by his Deadpool mini-series over the last few years. The fact that he managed to write a half decent comic connected to AXIS also means he deserves a huge amount of credit and you can see here what he can do without that sort of shackle.
Magneto has returned to Genosha to carry on his work to build a home for Mutant kind in the rubble of their previous refuge. However peace is not something that comes easily to mutants and especially not to one such as Erik. This book has some wonderful flashbacks to his past, a place that allows for near endless stories as he escaped from the Nazi Concentration camps. It turns out a man from his past has returned and is now on his island killing his people; a man who simply cannot still be alive and turns out to be impossible to kill.
I am not doing this book justice I know, but clearly I would need to be as good a writer as Cullen is to get my feelings across accurately. Also, I would need a lot of spoilers! Without ruining a book for everyone who has not yet had a chance to read it** I will endeavour to explain why this is so good. So many times in comics you have an unkillable villain, an unstoppable menace which our heroes battle to no avail. However at the end of the book they punch that bit harder, or make the magic device that lets them win, it always comes down to the stupidity of the villain or the power of the plot, very rarely does the medium allow something unexpected to happen.
I thought it was all over in the middle of the book when Magneto impaled his nemesis with 10’s of metal shards and then snapped his neck. I was expecting a long and tedious break down of how this 90 year old man still looked relatively young and where his powers came from and a trail of clues that would lead Magneto onto his next adventure. What I was not expecting was anything like what they pulled out. Even when he slithered away as a pool of living goo, I expected Magneto to do something hokey with the iron in his blood, but again I was completely wrong.
When you read the book I guarantee you will do a double take because I simply did not believe it at first. Then I thought about it and realised it was the only thing he could do in the circumstance, accept end himself as was pointed out in the comic. This changed from a comic into a morality tale, a question about the needs of the one outweighing the needs of the many.
Cullen – I salute you, I never expected to read anything like this in a Marvel comic. You exceeded my expectations on every level and from a story perspective, this is one of the best comics this year without question.
* And I don’t want to hear from anyone who has seen Mythbusters because they cheated.
**Because the world is now divided into people have read this comic, and those who are going to read it…