While Magneto is one of the more greatly appreciated villains in the Marvel U, he’s still one of the more overlooked villains, as far as characterization goes. Mags has always struck readers, not so much as a villain, but more as an anti-hero, even a freedom fighters. He’s often painted as a terrorist, and mostly an outright super-villain. But is Magneto really a villain. Can he really be considered a freedom fighter? Maybe he’s simply a self-righteous wacko void of redemption. In it’s first issue, Cullen Bunn manages to make Magneto feel like the beginning of Punisher MAX, one of my most treasured collections. But will he take Magneto down a similar path, or will he be drawn down a road to self-reflection and recovery, whatever that may mean?
The little instances of dialogue scattered throughout the issue really shine, like the sun off Bendis’ bald forehead. In the opening scene, a coffee shop barista’s entire recount of a crime scene that unfolded earlier was painted in my mind so vividly, by the time the splash page revealed the crime, I was in awe. The art syncs so well with the dialogue, I found myself enveloped in nostalgia, when I first discovered Garth Ennis and Lewis LaRosa. Gabriel Walta’s art is comparable to someone of Steve Dillon’s caliber, but he keeps the tone of Magneto in a modern-noir art style; an art form not utilized often in mainstream comics. He takes advantage of the darker tones of black and sepia, only putting emphasis on blues and reds when a statement needs to be made. Think RM Guera in Scalped. But even the more vibrant colors are kept toned down, to feed you the depressing colors of the world Magneto sees around him, bringing you down to his level. It almost works to have the reader empathize with him. It works for me at least. Then again, I have a “Magneto was right” t-shirt in my closet.
Magneto’s inner-monologue is where this issue really shines. While at first, Magneto’s insight isn’t very unique, downright cliche to the very, “coffee’s not terrible,” schtick, it keeps with the noir style, lending a hint of humor to a man otherwise hardened by grief and disaster. As Magneto continues through his day, you begin to see a man, much in Punisher’s vein, on a mission to eradicate significant and powerful individuals. There’s just a small implication at the end; that his mission, along with anti-mutant sentiment, is possibly bigger than he could have imagined, at least for the time period. Bigger than he can handle? Probably not, he’s Mag-freaking-neto!
With the big reveal at the end, and the recently discovered sentinel program at the end of the Battle of the Atom story arc, could SHIELD possibly be hiding more sensitive information that could threaten Mutantkind? Is SHIELD afraid of Magneto discovering another secret program or hidden agenda against mutants? Are there actual big name MARVEL characters who back anti-mutant terrorist groups? There are large implications at hand, and if they’re handled with the right amount of care, I’m confident Bunn and Walta can carry this series another 59 incredible issues into a must-have collection. Here’s to MARVEL not screwing it up and blaming it on AIM.