Giant-Size X-Men: Magneto #1
Written by Jonathan Hickman
Art by Ramon Perez and David Curiel
Lettering by Clayton Cowles
Published by Marvel Comics
'Rama Rating: 6 out of 10
Despite its title of Giant-Size X-Men, Jonathan Hickman and Ramon Perez's story featuring Magneto feels almost prohibitively small-scale, revealing little about the Master of Magnetism or his dynamic with Namor, the mutant king of Atlantis. Given the two characters have had history over nearly 60 years — indeed, Magneto tried to recruit Namor for his brotherhood as far back as X-Men #6 — this comic brings mood and atmosphere thanks to Perez's artwork, but doesn't provide enough insight or answers to really justify this 30-page one-shot.
Magneto has always been one for islands — even his earliest misadventures had him sequestering the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants far beyond the prying eyes of homo sapiens — but as he arrives at the Faroe Islands, his endgame feels far more mysterious. The White Queen has asked for an island, and this particular tract of land is owned by none other than the Sub-Mariner himself. After painting us a picture of solitude across seven pages, as Magneto waits for answers, Hickman shifts gears to an underwater action sequence, as Erik and Namor seek out missing Atlanteans at the bottom of the ocean.
For some readers, that will be enough — Hickman has always relished characters like these two — but as I read further, Giant-Size X-Men: Magneto felt like it lacked purpose. Beyond a single panel seemingly designed to evoke Erik's history in the Nazi concentration camps — and a somewhat questionable scene of the legendarily Jewish antihero dining on specially prepared lobster — little in this story feels specifically tailored to the Master of Magnetism, with the underwater scenes feeling pointedly in Namor's favor. But beyond nuances of superpowers, I couldn't help but think this story would feel similar if Charles Xavier were involved, or Emma Frost, or Cyclops — there's something to be said about less is more, but Hickman says so little about Magneto or his history with Namor that the adventure feels a bit hollow.
Still, Hickman's decompressed storytelling pairs nicely with Ramon Perez's artwork and David Curiel's colors. In many ways, this new island of Emma's feels like its own character just as much as Magneto or Namor, a sort of haunted, washed-out place where the silence threatens to oppress and overwhelm you. It's to Perez's credit that even a quiet path with a ramshackle fence can simultaneously evoke the brutal hostility of the concentration camps. Additionally, the way that Perez illustrates Magneto's power, for all its intricacies and specificity, quietly showcases Erik's Omega-level abilities — watching an entire building assemble from scratch as it floats in the air is a nice bit of technical storytelling that I think a lot of people will overlook. That said, I do think some of the other character designs — specifically the Atlantean monsters Namor is after — feel a little nondescript, requiring Curiel to try to differentiate with his colors, to limited success.
What perhaps feels most frustrating about Giant-Size X-Men: Magneto is that while it takes the scenic route to achieve even a perfunctory bit of action, there's very little plot progression that takes place here. There's no answers as to why Emma wants this island, or even what's going on inside Erik's silver-helmeted head. Clocking in at five dollars, it feels like a bit of a hard ask to expect readers to hold onto hope that this story has later meaning, given that the actual story itself feels surprisingly lightweight and hollow. Despite the clear artistic talents on display, Giant-Size X-Men: Magneto doesn't quite live up to its name, making for a disappointing outing with the Master of Magnetism.