Thursday, September 15, 2011

When Robots Ruled The Earth!

I finally finished a trade I've had sitting on the shelf for many moons, Magnus Robot Fighter Archives Volume 1. It collects the first seven Gold Key Magnus Robot Fighter comics from 1963 to 1964.

On the off chance you don't know the premise, Magnus is a flipside creation by Russ Manning, the late great artist best known for his work on Edgar Rice Burrough's Tarzan of the Apes. Manning pitched the idea of a superhero who was a Tarzan in reverse, instead of a man raised by apes who battled for truth and justice in society based on his own specific worldview, this Magnus was a man raised in the future of 4000 A.D. by a friendly robot to battle rogue robots who menace mankind who has become too dependent upon its own metal creations.

Russ Manning

The series begins with a bang as an unknown Magnus is dropped literally into the society of North Am and battles a rogue robot named H8 ("Hate") who has stolen humans to use their pooled mental might to overpower the greater society and elevate the status of robots.

Russ Manning

Then Magnus opposes Mekman, a crazed human who imagines himself to be a robot and who deploys a Magnus lookalike to create havoc in the society at large.

Russ Manning

Next is a gigantic robot from outer space sent by persistant foe Xyrkol, a human who seeks power over the Earth.

George Wilson

In the undersea realm where North Am's food supply comes from, Magnus finds a rogue brain robot who wants to undermine the sources of nutrition and bring humanity to its knees.

Russ Manning

Then there's the threat of a the immortal robot, who keeps rising from its own destruction. This turns out to be another threat from Xyrkol.

Russ Manning

Under the Earth, a robot named Talpa seeks power and Magnus must battle both robots and aggressive insect "Troglodytes" to keep mankind safe.

George Wilson

Finally Xyrkol pops up a third time and it takes the combined mental power of Magnus, his girlfriend Leeja and the minds of hundreds of humans formerly held captive by H8 to defeat the foe on a distant planet.

So as you can tell, the adventures of Magnus sprawl across a world well realized by artist and writer Russ Manning. He is helped on several issues by writers Robert Schaefer and Eric Friewald. A premise like that of Magnus, might seem repetitive, but they change up the settings and the threats nicely and keep it very fresh. The world of North Am proves sufficiently complex to support dozens of solid stories.

My personal favorite battle in this collection is the conflict against the giant robot from space, as it offers Manning some great opportunities for spectacular imagery.

I don't know if Dark Horse will get around to offering up any more archives in trade form, but I hope they do. I'll sure be around to pick them up.

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