It’s a new week and that means it’s time for a new edition of our newest column, Kickin’ It Old School, taking a look back at books from the original Valiant universe. This week, I’ll be taking a look at Magnus Robot Fighter #2 in my continued look at the series.
Written by Jim Shooter
Pencils by Art Nichols
Inks by Bob Layton with Kathryn Bolinger
Colors by Janet Jackson with Karen Merbaum
Published in July of 1991
New Key Characters
- Major Timbuc- Senator Clane’s law lackey
Rogues! If there is one word which describe this issue it’s rogues, and that is almost all you need to know. So what is a Rogue? A rogue is what series writer Jim Shooter calls a malfunctioning robots with free will, and Shooter lets the reader know it by using the word eighteen times in this issue – a little excessive.
This issue starts off with Magnus busting up some rogue robots at the waterworks, making them go “squeeee” when he kills them.
From there, he goes to see some robots being “studied,” and objects to them being tortured. Magnus is definitely conflicted with how robots should be treated. While he’s arguing with the doctor, a lab robot puts another robot out of its misery, then does itself in with a plasma torch, which is my favorite panel in this issue.
Magnus then goes to visit Leeja, who is now completely fine.
We cut to a submarine, where the rogue robots are trying to save a robot that was seriously injured in the uprising. In trying to save its, they repair him but eliminating his free will, making it no longer one of them. To make matters worse, they also have to evacuate the area, since the robot is now communicating with Central Rob, giving away their location. The juxtaposition of Leeja fully recovering in a beautiful, brightly lit hospital room being placed next to the robots struggling to save artificial life in a dingy submarine and failing goes a long way to build sympathy for the robots.
The next scene has Magnus having dinner with Leeja, Senator Clane and other socialites at a fancy restaurant. They all sit around, amazed by Magnus and hating on robots, while Magnus is brooding about the war and his conflicted feelings. Magnus is being attacked by a robot, who we later learn intentionally didn’t go through with the assassination attempt. Magnus storms out and heads home, discovering this same robot, W-23, waiting for him. The robot wants to talk to Magnus because he realizes they both have conflicted feelings on the war. Magnus realizes that the rogue robots have a slight mechanical vibration that normal robots do not. This trait was also recognized by 0-1X earlier in the submarine.
Leeja shows up and realizes that something is up with Magnus (she’s slightly psychic, but just uses it her powers to show how emotional she can be apparently). She runs off, Magnus chases her, and runs outside for the big, awesome fight scene! Dozens of robots come from above and below to attack Magnus, who fights through and turns his butler robot back on so that the attack can be reported. Magnus fights through the robots and ends up getting his hands on 0-1X. Magnus lets 0-1X go, who returns the favor with a “kill us or we’ll kill you” ultimatum. Magnus smashes a big pool of water, washing the robots away instead killing them. The book ends with Major Timbuc attempting to arrest Magnus for treason, at Senator Clane’s direction. Magnus smashes the robot that tries to grab him and Senator Clane lets him walk.
This issue creates many divides. We already had a split growing between humans and robots. The humans don’t believe robots have any rights, even if they’ve “malfunctioned” into thinking they do. The robots just want to have the right to be free. Our default would be to side with the humans, since most of us reading this are humans. Jim Shooter gets to the point too directly, though. Instead of character development, we get stereotypes. Senator Clane is a power-hungry politician. Leeja is a spoiled rich girl. Magnus is brooding in the middle with conflicting morals. The scene in the submarine provides the most character development. This serves to make us feel more sympathetic and understanding of the robots, since we can relate to them a bit more and we’re feeling more distant from most human characters. Overall, it could have been presented in a better fashion.
Magnus Robot Fighter #2 released two months after the last Magnus book and two months before Valiant started publishing its second title, Solar, Man of the Atom so it is surprising to me that the quality isn’t higher as it was the only Valiant title on the shelves at this time.
Originally from ValiantCentral.com