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Magneto #4 – Review

By: Cullen Bunn (writer), Javier Fernandez (artist), Jordie Bellaire (color artist)

The Story: Magneto celebrates Memorial Day his own way.

The Review: With a sterling opening arc put to bed, Cullen Bunn’s Magneto now moves into different territory for its fourth issue, providing a one-off examination of where Erik goes, physically and mentally, between battles.

At this point a number of Bunn’s tricks are beginning to make themselves known. Especially only two weeks after the last issue of this series, it’s hard not to notice how many scenes there are of Magneto walking through dark corridors between the two. Likewise, it’s clear that one of the series’ trademarks is its methodical, almost procedural, way of documenting Magneto’s mission, methods, and kills. It does hurt the effect to see these devices called upon again so quickly, but they were effective for a reason.

While the Omega-Sentinels plotline is over, for now, this issue seems to say to its readers that the book will carry on with the same tone and flavor. One thing that Bunn excels at is imbuing his violence with purpose. Every move Magneto makes is calculatedly vicious in a way that very few stories even attempt. I still don’t think Magneto kills “on autopilot”, as an onlooker from issue 1 put it; indeed, it seems to me that it is actually of the utmost importance to him to be present and conscious of each strike and each murder. For Magneto, his power is a fusion of physical ability and focused will.

The dichotomy of these elements is the strongest part of the issue, as a retreat to an old hideaway reminds Magnus of the reasons he fights. The answer is fitting for a holocaust survivor and has a certain charm to it, though it might not be subtle enough for some readers.
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Magneto #3 – Review

By: Cullen Bunn (writer), Gabriel Hernandez Walta (artist), Jordie Bellaire (color artist)

The Story: It looks like you’re defending the mutant people from their genetic inferiors. Would you like help?

The Review: With this issue the first arc of Cullen Bunn and Gabriel Hernandez Walta’s new Magneto series comes to a close. The past two issues of this series have been fantastic and I won’t bother with false pretense and pretend that this one isn’t as well. The question is not whether it’s a good read, but to what it attributes its success.

One thing that this issue teaches us, or at least reinforces for us, is that this will not be your usual mutant series. Even in the most critical moments of this story, the tone remains somber and restrained. Violence is a means to an end for Magneto and while he, like many readers, may hunger for it, there is no enjoyment, no distraction great enough to get between him and his people. There are those who will be disappointed to hear that there’s no climactic battle in this issue, but those looking for something fresh or a book that doesn’t undercut its tone to satisfy the tropes of the genre will find this story to be a sweet one.

Bunn presents a beautiful portrait of Magnus’ self loathing in this issue. He has blood on his hands and it commands his actions. The mutant revolutionary’s memories of Genosha are beautifully written and stunningly illustrated. The reminder of Genosha throws the character into sharp focus, a man of deep guilt, unwilling to lack the power of responsibility again, unable to deal with his own betrayal of that responsibility. In the winding catacombs of a secret Sentinel factory, he finds his opposite: demure, privileged, afraid, unwilling to accept responsibility for her actions. Like the best Magneto stories Bunn at once shows us why his actions are taken, perhaps even why they were necessary, but also the hypocrisy that he carries with him. Erik has been there, does that give him more or less right to judge?
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C2E2 Report: Wolverine – 3 Months to Die

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Though I didn’t plan it this way, my final panel of C2E2 was Marvel’s Wolverine: 3 Months to Die. And while I regret not being able to see a couple of the later panels, I can’t say that it was a bad note to go out on. Full of interesting questions and big announcements, it was definitely one of the most exciting panels of the weekend. And so with that in mind, I’ve decided to skip ahead and write about it early.

Before beginning, Mike Marts warned us that, “in true Marvel fashion you should stay till the end of the credits. And on that ominous note he introduced our panelists, Charles Soule, writer of nearly everything including The Death of Wolverine and Thunderbolts; Jason Latour, writer of Wolverine and the X-Men; Russell Dauterman, the artist on the upcoming Cyclops ongoing; Jordan White, the fantastically mustachioed editor of Deadpool and Thunderbolts; Mahmud Asrar, the artist on Wolverine and the X-Men; and Greg Pak, who might have seemed a strange addition to those who had not yet heard the rumors.

The panel started with Dauterman, who was unequivocal in his glee and honor at being invited to work on Cyclops alongside Greg Rucka. Dauterman attributed much of his love of the X-Men, Marvel, and comics to X-Men: The Animated Series. With an impish gleam in his eye, Jordan White immediately leaned forward and invited us to take part in a ukulele sing-along of the show’s classic theme song, despite its lacking any discernible words. Unfortunately the internet has thus far failed in its basic purpose by not providing a video of the event, though a quick search can probably turn up video of other instances. Regardless, take my word that it was extremely well received.

Marts then turned to Wolverine and the X-Men. He asked Mahmud Asrar who his favorite character to draw was. Asrar had trouble with the question, saying that they’re all growing on him, but settled upon Storm. Latour mentioned that the series has been juggling quite a bit but that we’re getting to the point in the opening arc where things start to fall.

Then Marts pulled up the covers for Wolverine 8-12, the titular “3 Months to Die” storyline, one at a time. I imagine the reaction was just about exactly what Marvel was hoping for but, of course, it’s hard to deny the striking power of the images.

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While the first of “3 Months to Die”’s five issues drops in June the title is entirely literal, as Charles Soule’s The Death of Wolverine will be released weekly in September. Soule described the miniseries as hitting fast and hard and explained that it would consider how Logan explores his own mortality after over a century of life and relative safety. He also revealed that each issue will look at a different time in Logan’s life and, by extension, another Wolverine.
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Magneto #2 – Review

By: Cullen Bunn (writer), Gabriel Hernandez Walta (artist), Jordie Bellaire (color artist)

The Story: To fight monsters we create monsters.

The Review: In Magneto #2, Cullen Bunn and Gabriel Hernandez Walta continue their unique look at Marvel’s most fascinating villain. So far, Magneto is really not a superhero comic. Costumes are rarities, invoked for psychological effect, and powers are weaker than motives. It’s more of a detective tale than anything else, with Erik’s forceful interrogations, antagonism with the authorities, and strong inner monologue almost recalling a hero in the mold of Sam Spade. But building that tone takes time.

It’s hard to deny that this series is moving at an extremely leisurely pace. Each issue seems to take us a single step further into the mystery. It’s an effective pattern but many comics would contain a couple of Magneto endings. Still, when the narration is this entrancing and the art this beautiful, it’s not hard to overlook the pace.

Indeed, there’s plenty of reason to take time this month, as Magneto thinks back to a moment from his childhood as a resident of the Warsaw Ghetto. The balance between retreading old ground and respecting the historical importance of Magneto’s origin is a difficult one but, thankfully, Bunn seems to have a good grasp on his subject matter. Survival is a victory and loyalty is different from how we see it today. The issue also grasps the almost cartoonish cruelty that the Nazis frequently dipped into and avoids exaggerating their evil. It’s the right choice, especially when the truth is enough.
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Magneto #1 – Review

By: Cullen Bunn (writer), Gabriel Hernandez Walta (artist), Jordie Bellaire (color artist)

Magneto. Erik. Max. Champion. Terrorist. Survivor. Revolutionary. But never victim…

Magneto has been many things to many people, but, for better or worse, something’s changed in him. Building a stable future didn’t work, the mutant revolution wasn’t enough, and so this series opens with an inherent mystery: who is Magneto now?

Cullen Bunn does a fine job of demonstrating Erik’s complexity. An onlooker’s report that he kills “on autopilot” contrasts, but never contradicts, the methodical focus with which Magneto goes about his task. Bunn’s first issue lacks a single brilliant anything, not a scene, not a line, but while there isn’t a crystallized moment, it’s hard to deny that there’s a power in his words.

This Magneto gives off the gravity that his character deserves. He could be raining metal from the sky or drinking his coffee and you would be holding your breath just the same. But while Bunn gets into a great rhythm before long, he does take a minute to get the hang of Erik’s voice. Unnecessary biblical references and Magneto’s judgments of himself belabor the early pages. Thankfully, Bunn does a much better job of analyzing the master of magnetism through the lens of other characters. Magnus’ comments reflect the situation only as much as they reveal the inner workings of his mind.

One particularly welcome characteristic of our protagonist is his willingness to change his mind. At least to me, a Magneto beyond reasoning is a boring one. Not that he should be sticking up for humans, but so much beautiful subtlety is lost when he paints exclusively in black and white. The revelations of this issue’s final act demonstrate Magneto’s ability to reevaluate the situation and even to exhibit empathy, that most hated and yet most necessary element of the character.

The plot for this issue is pretty simplistic. It seems more interested in setting up the status quo and the tone of the series than demonstrating the premise at its most exciting. The series has a hook by the end of this issue, and a pretty solid one at that, but it’s a slow build.

Gabriel Hernandez Walta’s style is instantly distinct. He presents something of a simplified realism in his drawings, perhaps appropriate to the character. It’s very much in Marvel’s recent trend of more art-centric comics, but it’s decidedly not David Aja or Javier Pulido. Deep blacks and beautifully washed out colors, courtesy of Jordie Bellaire, flow into Walta’s thin, graceful lines and between the gentle shading that makes up so much of the book.
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Uncanny X-Men #16 – Review

By: Brian Michael Bendis (writer); Chris Bachalo (pencils & colors); Tim Townsend w/ Al Vey, Mark Irwin, & Victor Olazaba (inks)

The Story: This old soldier refuses to fade away.

The Review: Despite being one of the most fascinating and important characters in comics history, I comfortably ranked Magneto as my worst character of 2013. Uncanny X-Men’s 2013 was marred by a near obsession with Scott Summers, willfully disregarding other, more interesting characters and quickly dropping plot points unrelated to his journey.

Tellingly, this series has made a remarkable recovery over the past two issues, each of which barely featured Cyclops. This issue generally continues both trends. While I stand by my criticism of Bendis for ignoring Magneto’s reaction to Charles Xavier’s death, his relationship with S.H.I.E.L.D., and the force of his personality, after reading this issue, I can say that what mistakes were made were not made in ignorance, as Bendis quickly tackles all three. I’m not sure that hastily throwing these at the reader fully compensates for past missteps; however it is nice to know that these issues have been on Bendis’ mind to some degree.

From there Bendis takes a page out of “X-Men: First Class”’ book and sends Magneto on an exotic undercover adventure. It’s really remarkable how well this formula works for the character and, as ever, it quickly proves how dangerous Magneto can be. The issue does a great job of reminding us that, though he could easily rip a ship apart, Erik has always been most dangerous for the care, inventiveness, and dedication that he’s brought to his control of magnetism.
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Uncanny X-Men #13 – Review

by Brian Michael Bendis (Writer), Chris Bachalo, Tim Townsend, Al Vey, Mark Irwin, Jaime Mendoza, Victor Olazaba (Artists), Marte Gracia (Colorist)

The Story: The bad X-Men from the future tries to send the past X-Men to their own time as the real X-Men from the future tries to prevent their plans from working.

The Review: There are things we kind of take for granted when it comes to serial storytelling. We always think that character development, story progression and genuine moments of entertainment shall be given to us with each issue. It is something that all issue and writers should strive to give, but sometimes some issues are more miss than hit, which can bring forward frustrating books.

This issue of Uncanny X-Men is unfortunately one of those issues, where a lot of what could make it worthwhile is simply absent. It is a mindless issue that seems to want to give us as many ”awesome” moments as it can, delivering plenty of action but little else, resulting in a read that doesn’t advance the themes or the plot in any significant way whatsoever.
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