Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Review # 167: "Magneto - 'Infamous' and 'Reversals'"

An ongoing Magneto series was long overdue. It's actually a little mind-boggling that Marvel hadn't pulled the trigger on one for arguably its greatest villain character (though not perhaps its greatest villain) until recent history. Though, I've gotta say... they picked a great time to do it.

Only a few years removed from Michael Fassbender's portrayal of Max "Erik Lehnsherr/Magnus" Eisenhardt in "X-Men First Class," the take on Magneto that begins in "Infamous" is clearly inspired by the vigilante interrogator portion of that film. Replace the former Nazis with Mutant-killers, and you've got comic book gold as the recently-reduced-in-power Magneto coldly hunts down those who would hurt his race on a small scale. In effect, it turns Magneto into an anti-hero who is Punisheresque with a lot fewer cliches and a lot more history.

What makes Max/Erik/Magnus stand out is that since Chris Claremont's landmark story "I, Magneto" he's been a stronger character than he has been a strong villain. The question of whether or not he's really evil* creates a compelling narrative that for the most part has been relatively unexplored. What happens if he decides to walk the Earth "Kung Fu"-style attempting to write perceived wrongs?

You get an awesome comic. That's what happens.

Magneto has an advantage over the other recently-reduced-in-power X-Men in that even with only a fraction of the control he once had he is still incredibly dangerous. Cyclops with weaker eye-beams or Emma without her psychic powers end up with a lesser total package instead of an enhanced one. Magneto, on the other hand, doesn't need to lift a bridge or a stadium to mess someone up. If anything, with him, it becomes more personal. Cullen Bunn's first trick is having Magneto remove a man's fillings and replace them with road sign posts. That last point is also an example of how cold-blooded the character remains.

Because his working solo is a new thing, everything Magneto does seems fresh. Take on a Sentinel camp? Sure. Fight a few of the Mauraders? Why not? Discuss a previously-undisclosed history with the Red Skull while young Max was in a death camp? Fantastic! Involve him in the events of "Axis" through tie-in issues? Well... OK, that's a bit of a weak point in "Reversals" without the proper context.

But any Magneto fan should be over the moon that this series is happening, that it's happening this way, and that it's as high of a quality as it is. Magneto can keep this up for years for all I care. But I have the sneaking suspicion it's only a matter of time until I'm reading an issue where he's fully re-powered and moving entire bridges with a snap of his fingers.

Not like that's a bad thing either.

Rating(s): 9/10 ("Infamous,") 7.5/10 ("Reversals")

*The concensus is despite good intentions, he's mostly evil.

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