REVIEW: Giant-Size X-Men: Magneto #1: “Isle, Magneto”

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After a long, unexpected wait, Giant-Size X-Men: Magneto #1 is here, and it’s an issue so big we needed two reviewers to cover it! Why does the Master of Magnetism want to procure an island, and what will he do to get it? Read on, as Kayleigh Hearn and Dani Kinney follow Magneto into the briny deep.

Giant-Size X-Men: Magneto #1

VC’s Clayton Cowles (letterer), David Curiel (colorist), Jonathan Hickman (writer), Tom Muller (design), Ramón Pérez (artist)
Marvel Comics
July 15, 2020

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After a pandemic-induced hiatus, Jonathan Hickman’s Dawn of X is back with Giant-Size X-Men: Magneto! After all this time, were you looking forward to this issue? And did the Master of Magnetism deliver?

Kayleigh Hearn: I’ve been looking forward to Giant-Size X-Men: Magneto since its announcement. “You have new gods now” is one of those shockingly good final lines that knocks you over every time you read it, so I’m excited whenever Hickman writes Magneto. Sadly, I think the months-long hiatus hurt the issue for me, which is not the creative team’s fault! But I’ve been starving and this was more of a snack than a meal. It’s good. There’s action, and spectacle, and a great example of Magneto’s problem-solving skills. Still, I keep needing to remind myself that the Giant-Size one-shots are essentially jam sessions between Hickman and a different artist rather than huge foundational blocks for Dawn of X. In this issue it felt like Magneto was keeping me at a distance, when I really wanted to get inside his head. Must be that telepathy-blocking helmet.

Dani Kinney: I definitely had high expectations for this issue, especially with how strong Giant-Size X-Men: Jean Grey + Emma Frost felt. Ultimately this issue didn’t hit the mark for me. So much of the strength of the previously mentioned one-shot came from how rooted the the story felt in the history of those characters. Magneto is certainly in this story and is in-character, but the story didn’t feel like it was about him or his specific goals. Magneto was caught in the current of two other people’s stories. It’s very much Magneto running errands. If somebody had placed this story in the mainline X-Men title or in an issue of Marauders, I would have enjoyed it far more. Yes, he’s still working for the protection of mutant-kind, but it feels so indirect. When I heard about a Magneto one-shot, I was hoping for something more in line with the characterization we saw in Cullen Bunn’s solo series. Magneto definitely had one or two moments to shine, but I had hoped for a more politically meaty story. The issue was fun, but it didn’t feel like Magneto’s story and more than anything it felt like Emma’s. This isn’t to say a character can’t share the stage in their own one-shot, but personally I didn’t need more Emma, and it felt like Magneto’s own character and history took a backseat here. 

The Giant-Size X-Men one-shots are created using the classic “Marvel Method” — the writer loosely writes the plot, the artist develops the story and layouts, and then the writer scripts over the finished pages. What did you think of Ramón Pérez’s art and storytelling here?

Kayleigh: This issue must have been fun to draw! Pérez shines when drawing big, shiny spectacle–a gigantic Atlantean gate, a Kraken (“It’s always a Kraken”), some witchy Octopus women, etc. He draws a spectacular world, but the people in it are a little wonky, unfortunately, particularly their facial expressions. The showstopper for me is the splash page of the towering structure Magneto builds. I don’t think we talk enough about the importance of setting in Dawn of X, and how visually stunning Krakoa and its architecture are. The fusing of the natural and the futuristic in Krakoan buildings is so much more interesting than a generic New York City skyline. Now I want to read an essay about mutant architecture! Plus, Magneto goes green and recycles one of the ten million Sentinels he’s destroyed over the years. Love it.

Dani: The art certainly felt evocative, setting a strong tone for the issue, and establishing a delightfully paired-down rhythm for the story. It’s the facial expressions that fell a little short for me. Some facial expressions ended up taking me out of the moment because they just had such an uncanny look, or they feel blank, and in a few places, the characters’ expressions didn’t fit the emotions that I feel the text was trying to convey. But overall the art felt consistent and clear which I put a premium on. Panels always felt developed but the eye always found its mark. The ending scene that Kayleigh mentions really felt like Magneto’s big moment, and with so little information about the nature and future use of this island, this visual nod to the Avengers tower drew up so many interesting questions. I enjoy it when an artist is planting those seeds for me outside of the word bubbles, where the images generate just as much discourse as the dialogue.giant-size magneto

Magneto isn’t the only big name character here — get ready for Namor, the Sub-Mariner! How fares the King of Atlantis?

Kayleigh: Namor was a nice surprise, though those Mutantis Personae pages gave him away! Namor is the most high-profile mutant to reject Krakoa, so there’s a fascinating conflict right there before the characters even talk — though this issue also made me stop and reflect on how similar Magneto and Namor are, both being leaders of their respective peoples who have a particular disdain for humanity and a flair for the dramatic.

Dani: I have so dearly missed Abs-lantis. And like the good bottom that Namor is, I died when his line of suspicion ended the moment Emma was brought up. It’s one part of his character I’m so glad to see maintained, where he goes from Atlantean King to himbo the moment somebody even mentions her name. He knows his queen. So this really makes this issue a tale of two bottoms. It certainly spoke to Emma’s gravitas to command such reverence form these two. 

Giant-Size X-Men: Magneto sows the seeds for a few future Dawn of X stories. What do you think of these developments? And what does Emma want an island for?

Kayleigh: Forgive me, but I must confess: I’m a little bored of Emma’s machinations. She’s certainly earned her role as a major player on Krakoa, but part of the fun of Dawn of X is that suddenly every mutant character is back in the toybox, ready to be played with, and Emma has gotten a lot of focus while other characters like Storm or The Five have been barely explored in this new status quo. So, I’m not terribly invested in her new mutant island. Can’t wait to see what Eldritch horrors are released from the bottom of the deep, though!

Dani: Even as die-hard Emma fan, I feel really similarly about this issue as Kayleigh. I’m excited to find out what this island means in relationship to the political and social roles of Krakoa, but it’s not something I feel I needed to see a whole issue about. Bigger revealed have flown well-enough with only a few lines of explanation on the page. I do have a lot of questions. When was the plan for this island formulated? Who received invitations? At the time of Marauders #1 where does this island stand? Who knows about her secret little island? As we move closer towards Emma Frost bringing Sebastian Shaw’s conspiracy and the murder of Kate Pryde to light, I’m more interested to see what this provides Emma in addressing his actions, and his role on the council. I’ve been building a theory about a coup against Moira, Xavier, and Erik in my head, feeling like if this were to happen, Emma and Raven may be the most likely to start such a campaign. Knowing Emma has this entire island, I wonder how this changes the amount of leverage such a campaign has.

Kayleigh: And with that, I’m looking forward to Jonathan Hickman re-teaming with New Mutants artist Rod Reis for Giant-Size X-Men: Fantomex #1. Fantomex hasn’t made a major appearance in any Dawn of X titles so far, and it will be interesting to see how the man from The World fares in this brave new one.

Kayleigh Hearn

Kayleigh Hearn

Still waiting for her Xavier School for Gifted Youngsters acceptance letter. Bylines also at Deadshirt, Ms-En-Scene, The MNT, PanelxPanel, and Talk Film Society.