X-Men legend Chris Claremont returns to the character he made famous in X-MEN BLACK MAGNETO #1. With such a big name attached, this issue should amaze, astound, and astonish but it surprisingly falls a little flat. The first in the miniseries of introspective one-shots, X-MEN BLACK MAGNETO #1 does push readers to consider things they may not have considered before when it comes to mutant life. Unfortunately, it’s also pretty unrealistic and seems to exist outside of recent series like X-MEN BLUE.

Artist Dalibor Talajić and colorist Dono Sanchez Almara retract from the serious tone Claremont creates instead of adding to it, which makes for a confusing read artistically. Over all, X-MEN BLACK MAGNETO #1 isn’t completely unsuccessful, but it’s definitely not the issue I think we were all hoping it would be.

Image Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

Man and Mutant

Like so many times in his life, Magneto is at a crossroads. He uses the time he somehow has (even though he was taking over the world just a few issues ago in X-MEN BLUE) to mull over his, and mutant kind’s existence. After meeting a young mutant sympathizer in Texas, Magneto ventures to a mutant detention center that’s full of children. He easily breaks the kids out, all the while questioning his and the guards’ actions.

Philosophy over Coherence

Comics are an amazing platform to discuss real-world issues, like human rights and equality. Mixed with a strong dose of action and character development, political themes can make a comic especially successful. It can also make readers, who maybe wouldn’t be willing to consider these ideas outside of comics, see these very real topics. At the moment, X-MEN RED is doing a fantastic job balancing action and politics.

X-MEN BLACK MAGNETO #1, on the other hand, struggles with that balance. Claremont clearly has a lot of ideas about equality and mutant rights that he wants to explore, but for one issue they’re overpowering. The issue becomes crowded and lacks the clarity that a political issue needs in order to be palatable. Instead of one issue, I would have liked to see Claremont write a whole series developing Magneto and his philosophical views. That would have worked much better than the short snapshot we get in this issue.

Image Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

Where is Magneto Going?

Perhaps the best part of this issue comes near the end, where we finally get to see Magneto don his famous red and purple uniform. Along with his age-old costume comes his characteristic mutant-first mindset. Armed with his love for mutantkind, Magneto uses violent force to break those kids out of prison. But, he’s not the same villain from years ago. Claremont tries to show that even though Magneto appears like his old self, he’s changed considerably since the twentieth century.

Although he seems set in his ways, we see glimmers of a different kind of Magneto. This Magneto is willing to let the next generation of mutants take over his mission for him. We see this in the strong-willed young girl who Magneto clearly thinks highly of by the end of the issue. For the first time in his life, Magneto can see a bright future for mutants without him in it.

Image Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

Weight of the Line

Artist Dalibor Talajić and colorist Dono Sanchez Almara are talented artists, but their styles do not lend themselves to Claremont’s story. This is an intensely introspective issue that focuses on moral dilemmas and political problems. To match the dialogue, the art should be darker and more serious. Instead, Talajić brings a somewhat cartoon-y style that, while well-done, just doesn’t work with the plot. His best work are the action scenes, but this issue doesn’t have a ton of those. Most of X-MEN BLACK MAGNETO #1 is made of up-close facial shots that require attention to expressions. Ironically, those are probably Talajić’s weakest panels.

Almara also does some great work, but once again his highly saturated palette negates the grave tone of the issue. Different artists could have really heightened the sense of realism in X-MEN BLACK MAGNETO #1.

Image Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

Final Thoughts on X-MEN BLACK MAGNETO #1

This issue brings up some huge questions about mutant life and the X-Men. These questions need to be asked and I thank Claremont for asking them. Still, this isn’t the right place for them. A one-shot needs a concise beginning and end. This issue teases readers with philosophical musings but refuses to deliver a coherent and enjoyable story. I hope the rest of X-MEN BLACK does a better job of giving readers both action and adventure as well as relevant political statements.

X-MEN BLACK MAGNETO #1 by Chris Claremont, Dalibor Talajić, and Dono Sanchez Almara
Claremont knows the X-Men better than anyone, and this issue shows that. He's really digging into Magneto's character and his ideals, but there just isn't enough time in this issue to explore such huge ideas. The grave tone of the comic fails to be felt thanks to the lighthearted art and the overall product is lackluster. While I enjoyed seeing Claremont play with this character again, the issue failed to be coherent and realistic.
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