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Monday, August 30, 2010

Magnus: Robot Fighter

Magnus: Robot Fighter is back.  The man in a manny-skirt and white go-go boots who beats robots to pieces with his bare hands has returned from the cloying foeter of obscurity and disappointment where he's languished since his last foray into comicdom was truncated preceipitously.  ComicBookResources has some details on the New Model Magnus and there's a nice piece about Magnus (the old version) over at Tor as well.  The 56-page spectacular debut of the New Magnus is available via Dark Horse.

Jim Shooter, the Editor-in-Chief of Valiant, who saw Magnus revived back in the Nineties is in charge of resurrecting the robot-buster from the year 4,000 one more time.  Dark Horse has begun the process of reviving the old Gold Key characters via what is being called Dark Key Comics which is good news to those of us who remember Turok: Son of Stone, Doctor Solar: Man of the Atom, Doctor Spektor, and Magnus.

Magnus is a very cool comic.  Think Billy Jack or maybe a Mexican Wrestler (like Santo or Mil Mascaras--but without a mask) combined withTarzan or Hercules in the future and with robots in need of smashing...with the guy's bare fists.  It's all about the adventures of this one lonely guy raised in the far future by a robot with human emotions, 1A, who is his Sensei, foster-father and mentor, and how this one warrior raised from birth is predestined by a computer-mind to be the savior of the human race in the face of another possible robot rebellion.  A lot of the character development over the course of the original Russ Manning series for Gold Key revolved around Magnus learning how to become more than a living weapon and become a man, a human being in his own right.  The training that he underwent dehumanized him more than a little, but that was seen as an acceptable cost for getting a warrior who could smash robots to pieces with his bare knuckled martial arts prowess and considerable strength.  Sorting out the Dell/Gold Key from the Valiant/Acclaim continuity is easier if you check out the Magnus page at the International Hero site.  Toonpedia also gives some details on Magnus.  You can also read an old Dell/Gold Key Magnus: Robot Fighter story "The Beasts of Steel" at Mykal Bantas' excellent Gold Key Stories blog.  There's a gallery of all the old Dell/Gold Key covers for Magnus at Comic-Covers(dot)com.  And if you prefer the Valiant/Acclaim version of Magnus, the folks at ValiantFan(dot)com have you covered.

What I particularly like about Magnus is that he is a prime example of an alternative Tarzan-esque Ranger (of the future) in D&D/Classic RPG terms.  He has a dedicated enemy: robots, and the specialized skills/attacks necessary to smash robots (some of which resemble a martial Monk's abilities).  But who says that a Ranger has to be Aragorn or Drizzt?  Who says that they even have to take a weapon other than their fists?  They don't.  There's just an entrenched expectation that they will, of course they will...but they don't need to...they could opt to go the route of a Magnus and become a dedicated almost Kensai-focused killing machine devoted to the complete extermination of a particular foe.

Kind of changes things a bit, but it's inherently already codified right there in the essential concept of the Ranger class.  You just shift the weapon focus to unarmed combat and you're three-quarters of the way there.  Easy-peasy.

Of course Magnus has a ceramic-durium armored tunic (apparently it's not a skirt--Really) to go with those infamous white go-go boots.  Don't laugh, he'll whup your butt in a New New York minute.  This is a guy who breaks robots into scrap metal without any tools, gadgets, or foreign objects.

A specialist luchadore-martial artist Robot Fighter would be a fun class/sub-class/prestige class/whatever-class to develop for a setting with lots of maniacal, dangerous rogue robotic menaces running around...hmmm...gonna have to get busy: we need some more robots around here...

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