Review by Frank Plowright
Cullen Bunn’s take on Magneto is an interesting new approach. The master of magnetism retains his agenda as a pro-active protector of mutants, but is running a more covert operation, moving from town to town by car in civvies rather than flying in costume. This is because he’s no longer as powerful as once he was, but, as we see, under his control very small metal items can prove deadly. He selects his targets carefully, but in the opening chapter it appears someone has anticipated him.
It’s long been established that Magneto’s youth was initially spent in the Warsaw ghetto of Nazi occupied Poland during World War II. This was particularly well recounted in Testament, and this environment fostered a lifelong hatred of persecutors and sympathy with the oppressed. He’s been targeting those funding mutant hate groups, but his anger is magnified by an organisation press-ganging the disenfranchised.
One one level this could be a Punisher story, with only Magneto’s powers making the difference, but Bunn skilfully weaves in recollections of Warsaw and other conflicts during his long career. He re-codifies Magneto’s philosophy, removing the less palatable aspects in these days of terrorist fear.
Artist Gabriel Hernandez Walta redefines Magneto visually. Here he’s not the floating silver-haired gent familiar from years gone by, but shaven-headed in black boots. Walta’s style is on the scratchy side, yet provides an evocative environment for Magneto to operate. He also has a signature technique, sparingly employed, of small boxed cutaways displaying the metal objects Magneto can mentally manipulate, be they keys hanging from a belt, or the metal tumblers of a lock. Javier Fernandez, who illustrates the final chapter has a slightly different, but equally effective style.
Magneto may lack his former absolute power, yet Bunn uses this to tell more interesting stories. They’re well paced, with planning and pontification punctuated by moments of extreme violence, and by the final chapters the means Magneto employs have been improved. The story doesn’t end with this book, and continues into Reversals.