Hot on the heels of their first Gold Key release, Dynamite Entertainment brings “Magnus: Robot Fighter” #1 to comics stands everywhere, featuring the writing of Fred Van Lente and the art of Cory Smith. While I am aware of the longevity of the character, I’ve never been a big follower, so what better place to start?
As the issue opens, readers are introduced to Russell Magnus, history teacher and martial arts coach in a small town of Maury’s Peak. Living in harmony with robots, the town uses them for everything from sparring partners to living assistants. One particular robot, dubbed 1A is present throughout the story, never far from Russell Magnus’ side. Clearly our point of reference, Magnus endears himself to the reader as an everyman with dreams of something bigger, a higher purpose or calling. Van Lente does a fine job making Magnus a very readable and relatable character. Readers don’t know everything about him and don’t need to, but that doesn’t stop the writer from changing everything right in the middle of the issue. Hitting the brakes on Magnus’ charmed life, Van Lente wakes Magnus up and drops him in the middle of a technological nightmare. The second half of the issue is a man out of time tale, but Van Lente fills it with heart and soul, despite the abbreviated nature in which the hero’s back-story is investigated. Van Lente gives readers just enough to set us on the path with plenty of action and intrigue along the way with no previous knowledge of Magnus needed.
Cory Smith provides some beautiful artwork, with touches of Ordway, Kolins and even contemporary fellow Dynamite artists, Marc Laming and Doc Shaner. His stunning interpretation of future New York is sure to leave readers eyes wide open and jaws agape just as surely as his work on Maury’s Peak will warm readers hearts. Smith delivers diversity in the humans, the robots and the in between, packing the pages of “Magnus: Robot Fighter” #1 with gorgeous artwork. Smith has a wonderful collaborator in colorist MaurÃ®cio Wallace. Dreamy coloring in borderless panels offers calm and serenity to this issue before harsh edges, bold colors and overwhelming scenery threaten to plow the reader when harsh, robotic reality sets in. Visually, this seems like two completely different comic books, but Smith and Wallace simply make the most of the storytelling tools and technology at hand.
Twenty-two pages of heart set in a new world that is instantly welcoming, disturbing, intense and calm make “Magnus: Robot Fighter” #1 a fine addition to the Gold Key lineup from Dynamite. Celebrating the freedom afforded to comics, this one provides lessons such as “there is no better master than to be the master of one’s own destiny” alongside flying cars and fisticuffs with robots.