The noose tightens for Magneto as his quest for vengeance on behalf of mutant kind brings him to a covert Mutant Growth Hormone (MGH) operation. With SHIELD and the fighting coming a little too close for comfort this time around, he diverts his attention to a more personal pursuit. In “Magneto” #8, Cullen Bunn brings a gravitas to the character that lives long past his tragic past while Javier Fernandez delivers the same kind of pathos through a series of effective flashback sequences.
In every issue so far, and especially with this one in particular, it’s Magneto’s narration that steals the show — an even, slow-burning rage that leads to a powder keg of righteous fury. Bunn spends a lot of this issue reflecting upon Magneto’s less-than-spotless past as a villain and mutant Messiah. Here, Bunn works in perfect tandem with Fernandez, overlaying text that just steeps in meaning when juxtaposed against particular flashbacks. With this teamwork, Magneto truly feels like a “natural disaster” or an “outside force” — perhaps even an “act of god.” Bunn uses the slow build for a fantastic effect, working with Fernandez to show the weight behind his name. What’s more, his observations of SHIELD’s tactics pack an emotional punch, justifying his anger if not his actions and providing a chillingly relevant (if purely coincidental) criticism of current events.
Although Fernandez works extremely well when he’s in step with Bunn, he does have a few areas where he falls out of pace — and those instances stand out, but not in a good light. Where Bunn keeps Magneto cool and even keeled, Fernandez’s Magneto is prone to fits of cartoonish rage, ranging from a disappointed pout to wide eyes and bared teeth. These fits seem almost hyperbolic, butting against text that seems much more collected. This works well when Magneto does, in fact, explode into a fit of rage, but not in his more subtle anger. Additionally, Fernandez keeps poor continuity concerning background characters, dramatically changing their looks or occasionally losing count of how many thugs are in the room.
Colorist Dan Brown leaves Magneto’s world in shadow, drawing from a muted palette of blues and beiges for the Chernobyl-like setting and brilliant, blood red for the series of intense flashbacks. He hits the tone right on the nose with this combination, mirroring Magneto’s bubbling ire.
With “Magneto” #8, a lot of loose plotlines come together — and the payoff is incredible. Bunn excels with Magneto’s steady characterization and bitter voice. Though Fernandez’s art could use a touch more subtly, he hits all the right notes when he’s on the same page as Bunn’s spectacular narrative.