By Cullen Bunn, Gabriel Hernandez & Jordie Bellaire
With Magneto #5, the reader is treated to the early beginnings of a brand new arc. Cullen Bunn gets the wheels turning with a new threat for Magneto, the best anti-hero in comics. Yes, that term might be stretched in this example, but I don’t believe that Magneto as a straight villain applies anymore. In fact, the standard villain is not nearly as common in modern comics. Characters playing in the gray between good and evil is the new black. In the first arc of this issue, we followed Magneto as he ventured far and wide on his new cause, Magneto the mutant vigilante. His motivations are still the same, protecting mutants from human threats fueled by hate. His results, however, are different. Instead of blind rage on epic proportions, we’ve been presented with a more nuanced, stealthier Magneto.
While Magneto is still violent and brutal, the reader cannot help but develop a bond with him. We’re rooting for a bad guy, but a bad guy that sticks to his convictions. Magneto is fighting for his beliefs. In this issue, we catch Magneto in a lull. He’s not actively taking out any threats to mutant-kind, but instead seems to be in the planning phase of his next attack. Enter a new character, Briar Raleigh. Is she friend or foe? She seems to be more friend than foe, and Magneto quickly takes to her. She shares info with Magneto that piques his interest, and in toe sets up some interesting conflicts moving forward.
This, however, brings forth some problems with this issue, outside of the fact that nothing really happened. It’s fine when comic books take an issue to catch their breath before the plunge. This issue, though, left me questioning Magneto’s motivations. Bunn has written this character to be untrusting, keeping his plans close to the chest. He’s one man on a mission. Here, Magneto let’s a stranger in. This is a stranger he knows nothing about. Why, now, would he do this? This does not fit with the character at all. In fact, this new representation of Magneto is so jarring it derails the issue.
Luckily, the art keeps things on track. Gabriel Hernandez’s art is nothing short of gorgeous. Not only are action scenes compelling, but so are those images of Magneto strolling through a grocery store. His lines are rough, but the kinetic energy pops off the page. This, combined with Jordie Bellaire’s colors, brings these pages to life. In one spread, we see a flashback to a more violent and cruel Magneto, and the art team makes you feel like you’re right in the middle of the mayhem. Bellaire changes moods, with a nuanced subtlety that shows she is a true talent.
The last page of this book offers an interesting twist, although it’s one that was highly predictable. It does leave the reader questioning what’s next. Bunn spins a compelling yarn with this page, upping our anticipation for the next issue. Although this issue had its weaknesses, the next arc looks like it should be as strong as the first arc for this series.