Dynamite’s MAGNUS #3 Remains a Rad Robot Reboot: Review
Writer: Kyle Higgins
Art: Jorge Fornés
Colors: Chris O’Halloran
Letters: Taylor Esposito
Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment
Magnus #3 is the latest issue in what’s shaping up to be a very good reimagining of the classic Gold Key character. Dynamite rebooted its acquired host (Magnus, Solar, Doctor Spektor, Turok) a few years back, but this new take has me following each of the titles closely. Sovereigns is currently tying in a more familiar Magnus as the collective battles a strange and terrifying evil, with Turok and Magnus spun off as parallel narratives and a lot of great back-ups to flesh out the reboot. I highly recommend picking up every one of these books.
To call Kerri Magnus (Robot Therapist-née-Fighter) a “gender-bent” hero is to do the fresh narrative a supreme disservice. Higgins and team are putting a great deal of effort into creating a brand-new Magnus planted in a world with some serious A.I. existentialist woes, with very little lip service paid to gender. Kerri seems to have popped out of this universe fully-formed with grounded backstory, and that’s the mark of a fine storyteller at work.
Magnus is smart in that it works really well issue to issue while building enough tension to keep you invested in the run’s well-paced mysteries. It’s a well-constructed comic and a visual delight. I absolutely love innovative splashes, especially those that cover a character moving from point A to point B – one of my favorite and what I’ll argue is one of the best things about Nightwing comics are when artists capture Dick’s acrobatics across a one- or two-page spread or splash (unsurprisingly, Higgins & co. show this flair from their run on that series, as well). Frank Quietly’s brilliant take on Clark bumbling through the Daily Planet office in All-Star Superman helps you grasp why it’s not just the glasses that fool the public. Magnus #3 boasts a great splash following Kerri up the side of a building, through multiple elevator cars, past an unfortunate security guard and up a flight of spiral stairs. The splash has to move quickly through a lot of action, and the team keeps the lettering and fine detail to a minimum. They also add a great shot of the looming building’s exterior smack in the middle to break up any intricacy or confusion generated as we track Kerri’s movements.
The art in general is very pleasing, with O’Halloran’s bold colors to differentiate between the cloud world and our world. There’s a good balance between finely detailed reaction panels and close-ups/full-page machinery or landscape depictions. Fornés’ light, cartoonish style softens the noir element enough to avoid an overdone sci-fi trope without losing any grit or humanity. There are big things at stake, and the artistic team does a fine job of breathing some life into what is, at its root, a detective story – at least for now.
Esposito is one of the best letterers in the business. Comics with a lot of small panels and intricate layouts can get buried when lettering is too obtrusive or too fine to follow, but Esposito strikes a perfect balance so you don’t get caught up in trying to read while soaking in the art. It’s a pleasure to open a book he’s worked on, because I know I won’t be straining my eyes or getting swept out of the narrative.
A hallmark of comics success is when your story can’t be told any other way – Magnus is a brilliant comic creation that utilizes the full creativity and flexibility of the medium to deliver a tense and personal reimagining of a very well-known character. I can’t wait to see where we’re going next.