It’s Tuesday, which means it’s time for another new edition of Kickin’ It Old School, our weekly column in which we look to the past and review books from the original Valiant universe! This week, I’ll be discussing Magnus Robot Fighter #9.
Magnus Robot Fighter #9
Published in February 1992
Written by Laura Hitchcock and Jim Shooter
Penciled by Ernie Colon
Inked by Kathryn Bolinger with Ted Halsted
Colored by Knob Row
Magnus returns home to the police attempting to arrest him for his past treasons. He easily fights through the Pol-robs since they aren’t under the Mainbrain’s control and can only follow direct commands. Slagger shows up, but just fools the Pol-robs into jumping off the side of the building and allows Magnus to go free. He’s just taking advantage of the “Cloddies” paying him to do what he wants until the Mainbrain is active again. Magnus flees to the Goph lands.
We cut to Yosemite, where the robots are building their city and setting up defenses against the humans while the Mainbrain is still down. Leeja is there, working to become a tougher person but being pushed around by the robots, who don’t understand that humans have limits that they do not. Tekla is the only one looking out for her while E-7 just wants to push her around. The robots communicate with North Am, revealing that Leeja isn’t dead, which prompts Slagger being ordered to go rescue her. He refuses to, and General Mimsy is fed up with his behavior and sends him to be psychoprobed. She then goes to the Goph sector to find Magnus and ask him to rescue Leeja.
Magnus goes to the robots and wants to peaceably talk, but Minister of Defense E-7 wants him destroyed. He defends himself against the robots who are ordered to attack him, but avoids hurting them and only aims to protect himself. They begin to realize that E-7 may be wrong about Magnus, but E-7 forces the fight to become more violent. Tekla is notified of the fighting and is brought to it, ordering E-7 to stop firing on Magnus. Magnus and Leeja are reunited, but she tells him that she is there of her own will and doesn’t want to leave. Magnus returns to President Clane and reports on Leeja. Clane orders him arrested. Magnus easily tears the robots apart until they use a gas to overcome him and send him to be psychoprobed. Shortly thereafter, the Mainbrain is returned to operations and the council votes to fire on Synchron, the robot city. The blast, which should utterly destroy their robot city, does no damage, to their amazement. They receive a transmission from Synchron, with E-7 on the screen telling them they shouldn’t have done that.
I found the first arc of Magnus to be good, but I wasn’t overly impressed with many facets those first four issues. In particular, I found the character development to be pretty poor. Magnus’ departure from North Am lead him into a situation that would begin to bring the best out of him as he battled against and with his equal in Rai. I was a little apprehensive about what I would find as he returned to North Am, but I found myself pleasantly surprised. Even Leeja Clane has a personality now! Slagger was a pleasant surprise. I didn’t care much for how the Gophs were portrayed before, feeling that they were trying to fit too much of the Goph slang into every sentence. I feel that a better balance has been found, and Slagger’s swagger while taking advantage of the “cloud-cloddie” government’s ineptitude was hilarious!
Another example of the attention to character is illustrated when Mimsy goes to a Goph Mello-Vapor bar to get Magnus’ help. A dwarf begs her for money for food, but we see his little hand peeking up above the counter in the next panel while he orders a mello-vapor, and in the next panel we see him sitting on the ground, leaning against the bar, getting intoxicated. A little scene like that adds humor without cheapening the mood of the book and adds detail and context that can’t be explained through dialogue or exposition. 90s comics tend to painstakingly explain everything to the reader, but a visual medium shouldn’t need to resort to that. As art in comics has improved, the story can be carried much further with subtleties rather than smacking the reader over the head with the point you are trying to make.
This issue leaves me feeling excited for what Magnus will continue to bring. There are many characters that will be interesting to see develop. Plus, the war between humans and robots looks like it’s ready to start again with both sides on more even ground.
Originally from ValiantCentral.com