“As a member of the Sonderkommando in Auschwitz I was considered Geheiminstrager — a keeper of secrets. In the years since I have shouldered the crushing burden of many truths I would dare not share. My great shame among them.” – Magneto
For my first comic review, I’m going to focus on a single issue that stood out to me when I read it a couple of years ago. Magneto 9 was part of a solo series written by Cullen Bunn that ran for 21 issues. Bunn deconstructed the character to his raw elements, creating a gritty noir world of mutant prejudice and bloodshed. The issue was a part of the Axis event which saw the Red Skull steal the dead Charles Xavier’s brain and use his powers for evil.
The issue stands out for me as much now as it did then because of the racial prejudice that has been a part of 2016 in the UK and US. The Magneto series has emotional resonance because his history with Nazis has long been established. What could be better than having him face to face with the one man who represents everything he hates? Magneto finds himself in the ruins of Genosha investigating rumours of mutant suffering. Bunn shows off his ability to capture the character’s personality with a reflective inner monologue. Magneto compares the brutality he sees to his experience as a part of the Sonderkommando in Auschwitz as a child. The contrast paints a tragic picture of history repeating itself.
Magneto prepares to strike against the Red Skull but finds himself battling against the Skull’s S-Men instead. Bunn presents his protagonist as angry, self-righteous, impulsive and reckless. In what he witnesses Magneto is a man driven by vengeance and reflects that he let his pride get the better of him. The reader is shown various sides of the Master of Magnetism and that is what makes the series one of the best Marvel has to offer in recent memory. The reader finds themselves siding with Magneto despite knowing the things he’s done.
The art has a broody, grey tone, drawn by Gabriel Hernandez Walta. Genosha is brought to life with grey and black to depict a broken shell of a once thriving nation. Character expressions are detailed and convey emotion without the necessity for dialogue.
The book ends on a chilling cliff hanger that I won’t spoil and would encourage anyone to pick up the full graphic novel that the issue is a part of. Bunn is brilliant in his ability to craft a narrative that sucks you in from the first page. Stepping into Magneto’s world isn’t pretty: it’s horrific, bloody and violent. It’s also unforgettable, like a car crash you can’t turn away from. I’d recommend picking up the series in the collections it’s split up into.
In future I’ll be including reviews of full collections. This was a stand alone issue that has stood out to me for a long time and I wanted to share it.