Slash Fiction: Jason vs. Leatherface

Greetings, Legions of the Unspoken!

Ol’ Dean Compton is back, and I do apologize for having been away so long.  Life has separated me from the 90’s comics I dearly love and treasure, and it has also separated me from all of you, but that shall happen no more!  We hope to be back on track around here in time for early summer, and my portion starts right here with the rather fun (and gory) Jason vs. Leatherface from Topps Comics!

I’ve been obsessed with Jason Voorhees (although not as obsessed as I am with some things) ever since I was about 4 or 5 years old.  I don’t recall which Friday the 13th movie it was, but one Saturday morning in the middle of the serenity that only Saturday morning cartoons can bring a youngster, the slasher invaded.  This had to be a mistake on the part of the station, but all of a sudden I was seeing a commercial for a Friday The 13th flick!  I was so scared that I had nightmares about it later.

Whether this had anything to do with it or not, movies like Friday the 13th and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre were banned in my house growing up.  The only Jason stuff that ever made its way into ComptonSpace was the NES game.  Ask Emily or anyone who knows me: I am goddamn obsessed with NES Jason and will purchase just about anything to do with him, from NECA figures to Funko customs.  For me, that game was Jason, in all of his purple and neon blue glory.  Later, as a teenager, I’d be able to watch some Friday the 13th movies, and whole some of them are scary, most are just funny and a blast to watch.

I didn’t have the same affinity for Leatherface.  I never got to play the Atari Texas Chainsaw Massacre game, although I am pretty obsessed with it now, to the point of having bought a NECA Atari Leatherface.  (I bet you’re starting to think NECA paid me to put them in here, but nah, they just have great stuff.  Of course, should they want to sponsor the site, come on, fellas!) I didn’t see Texas Chainsaw Massacre until I was 22.  It’s a good movie, but I always sort of thought of Leatherface as the least of the slashers until recently.  Thanks to various action figures, I have started to really dig Leatherface, so when I learned of this mini-series, I Just had to see how these two horror icons did against one another.

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The covers to this mini-series are excellently done by Simon Bisley, who displays from the get-go why he was the perfect artist for such a task.  Also, Jason’s machete sort of looks like the one he uses in Jason X, making this even more badass.

Published in the waning days of Topps Comics, Jason vs. Leatherface had a very low print run, making it highly desirable these days.  From what I can tell from my research (which is done on little sleep and a shoestring budget, so please correct me if I am wrong), this is the only time in any medium that Jason and Leatherface squared off in an “official” manner.  That sort of makes it sound like they had some sort of government sanctioned duel.  That is decidedly not the case; this is much, much more fun.

Nancy Collins writes a fun story in which Jason is caught up in corporate malfeasance.  A corporation has been using Crystal Lake (the perpetual home of Jason’s massacres) to dump toxic waste.  They are moving on from the area, and the EPA has confirmed that something must be done about the waste.  The CEO decided to just drain and dredge the lake and then use the land to build high-priced development housing.  AND THEY SAY JASON VOORHEES IS THE BAD GUY!

Of course, Jason is at the bottom of the lake from the end of one of his last massacres, and he’s just waiting for something or someone to free him.

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Remember that Southern Rock compilation CD “Going South”?  I bet Jason hates it.

The man in charge of the dredging makes it clear to all involved that he is not a nice man and that he is there because he works cheap.  While they are in the process of dredging the lake, a local arrives and warns them of the danger that is Jason Voorhees, but the contractor laughs it off.  Of course, as he is scoffing at the idea that a crazed and unstoppable maniac is at the bottom of the lake, what does his crew pull up with a large crate of toxic dirt?  If you guessed anything but Jason, turn in your badge; you’re off the force.

The dirt gets hauled to a train where it takes off for the desert. Joining the dirt on this journey is a hobo and his dog, and being honest, these are the most likeable characters in the entire book.  Sadly, Jason kills them rather quickly, and this is the moment that really reminded me that while we all like Jason, we really shouldn’t  He murders harmless and defenseless people for no good reason.  This hobo offers him some booze, which is like money to hobos in pop culture, and Jason hacks his arm off.

Of course, what will really get to most folks is when Jason hacks the dog right in half.

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Of course, the hobo was just telling his dog about how happy he was that they had been riding the rails together, which meant they were about to die.  Being happy in a horror comic or movie means instant death.

Jason proceeds to kill everyone on the train. Even without being an engineer,  I know a train can’t run without one, and it doesn’t take long before the train, toxic dirt and all, blows up with our favorite maniac walking away from the carnage.

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IS HIS MACHETE ON FIRE?  JASON IS THE COOLEST.

Jason’s train has crashed in Texas.  Sawyerville, Texas, to be exact, which just happens to be the home of Leatherface and family.  Jason comes upon one of their intended victims trying to escape.  The victim implores Jason for assistance, which is sort of like asking a demon for assistance with the devil.  Leatherface and family quickly make their way onto the scene, desperate to hold onto their meat.  The victim is terrified as Jason and Leatherface make first contact!

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The moment you have been waiting for since you read the title.

Jason and Leatherface square off in a slash clash of terror titans!  Jason manages to overpower Leatherface and force the aberration to lose his grip on his famous chainsaw, but then rather than killing Leatherface and his kin, Jason kills their intended victim and then hands Leatherface his chainsaw.  Leatherface’s kin introduces himself to Jason as Hitchhiker, and he convinces a confused Jason to join them back at their house for supper.  Jason has never felt anything but hate and anger, even at that awesome hobo who just wanted to get him drunk, so the fact that he doesn’t want to kill these people immediately is foreign to him.

He goes along with them, and after being introduced to Cook and the rest of the family, he finds himself feeling a kinship with Leatherface.  The rest of the family, especially Hitchhiker, picks on Leatherface the way Jason was picked on.  Upon arriving at the house, Hitchhiker immediately makes fun of Leatherface for losing his saw to Jason, which is really not anything to be ashamed of, what with Jason’s super-strength and all. (It’s like a baby losing an arm wrestling match to Hulk Hogan.  That’s just how it is gonna go down.) The taunt leads Leatherface to run away to his upstairs bedroom and fling himself on the bed in the way that teenage girls do in sitcoms, although Leatherface has decidedly fewer posters of boy bands and kittens on his walls.  (He does have a sweet poster of what seems to be Conan or Franzetta’s Death Dealer above his bed.) Jason’s kinship with Leatherface grows, and he heads upstairs to offer his friendship and understanding.  Jason was tormented too, and seeing Leatherface in anguish is reminding Jason of his own torment and somehow making him show empathy and sympathy for another human being.

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This is the beginning of a very ugly friendship.

Cook tells Jason that he is glad that he and Leatherface have started to become pals, and he introduces Jason to the rest of the family.  Jason, being mute, reaches back into his memories and finds a way to reveal his name to his new “family”.

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For someone who gets a rap as being mindless, that’s not awful blood penmanship from Jason Voorhees.

The second issue centers around the Texas Chainsaw Massacre family settling in with Jason and Jason settling in with them.  Cook opens up to Jason about his desire to one day own a fancy restaurant (that I presume would serve people) while he just rakes in the cash and lives in a doublewide trailer.  Hitchhiker shows Jason his dog, which Hitchhiker killed but still keeps on a chain.  Hitchhiker doesn’t care for Jason for lots of reasons, including that he has taken up for Leatherface, but it seems to me that what bothers Hitchhiker the most is that Jason doesn’t eat.  This scene meanders back and forth between what seems like Hitchhiker trying to get to like Jason and Hitchhiker trying to intimidate Jason.  It makes little difference, as Hitchhiker has to head for the gas station where the family makes its income and meat.

A lost couple stops in for gas, and after Hitchhiker makes sure they won’t get far, Hitchhiker and Jason (at Cook’s request and Leatherface’s reluctance) set out to murder the couple when the car breaks down.  Hitchhiker loves the game aspect of this, but Jason is just brutally efficient.  After choking the wife in the couple to death, Jason gets chastised by Hitchhiker for not taking enough time.  Hitchhiker is somehow the most despised character in this book, as his love of sadism means that he wants to hear his victims scream and beg before he kills them.

Jason Vs Leatherface #2 (of 3) - Page 18
You’d think that in a comic book full of cannibals and mass murderers that you’d have trouble picking the one you hate the most, but it’s surprisingly easy.  Hitchhiker is the worst.

After returning from what they call “getting groceries,” Hitchhiker decides to show Jason his hobby, which isn’t collecting baseball cards or Pogs, you 90’s kids, but instead, he has this odd fascination with making things out of body parts. I guess that really isn’t too odd, seeing as how he is batshit crazy and a murderous cannibal, but you know for folks like you and me, we’re not so enamored with such things.  This fascinates his brother Leatherface, who is hiding among the macabre creations as Jason and Hitchhiker chat.  He tries to sit in a bone chair, and when he breaks it, he is discovered.  Hitchhiker goes to abuse Leatherface over this transgression, only for Jason to recall his own past as an abused youngster, and he also recalls when his mom cut his dad’s head in two with a machete, leading to a lifelong (and deathlong, I suppose) obsession with murder and violence for Jason.  This abuse, though, isn’t a pleasant memory for the Crystal Lake killer, and he decides to step in and spare Leatherface any more abuse.

Jason Vs Leatherface #2 of 3_Jason_Vs_Leatherface_2_p22
Jason knows that mass murdering icons gotta stick together.

After Jason’s siding with Leatherface, Hitchhiker gets really mad.  Like, 1990’s Nine Inch Nails Mad.  He then says he doesn’t care that Jason has taken sides with Leatherface (who Hitchhiker often refers to as a “retard” among other things.  In addition to being a homicidal cannibal, Hitchhiker just isn’t very nice.)  because Hitchhiker believes he cannot be hurt.  He demonstrates this to Jason and Leatherface by driving a pocketknife through his hand without wincing or grimacing.  Rather, as would befit the stature of such a madman, he just talked about he is invincible and how nothing can stop him.  Jason, never one to turn down a challenge, picks up a sharp piece of bone and decides to find out just how invincible Hitchhiker really is.  He picks Hitchhiker up by the throat and goes to stab him, only to be stopped by Leatherface.  Out of respect for Leatherface, Jason decides not to murder Hitchhiker.

Jason Vs Leatherface #2 of 3_Jason_Vs_Leatherface_2_p24
This is the first time in his life that Hitchhiker has known fear.

Hitchhiker thanks Jason by calling him chicken and then letting Leatherface know that he doesn’t care.  Things are building to a head between the members of the family that aren’t Leatherface and Jason, and Cook attempts to try and soothe matters by apologizing on behalf of Hitchhiker, but Jason’s newfound patience is just about at an end.  The third issue has Hitchhiker getting angry with Leatherface again, this time for reading his comics and leading fingerprints on them.  Of course, many comic book fans have felt rage over this, but Hitchhiker lashes out at Leatherface and slices his arm with a pocketknife.  I’ve been angry at my family for ruining comic books of mine, but I have never sliced anyone over them.

Jason’s had enough, and he tosses Hitchhiker across the room.  Now Hitchhiker has had enough, and despite Cook’s protestations that this conflict not occur at the dinner table, Hitchhiker stabs Jason in the heart with the pocketknife, which has about as much affect on Jason as a BB Gun would have on a tank. Cook defends his brother with a meat cleaver, but no one can now save Cook and Hitchhiker from Jason’s wrath…except Leatherface.

Jason Vs Leatherface #3 (of 3) - Page 10
CHAINSAW VS. MACHETE!

The family is able to overpower Jason due to their numbers and take him out temporarily.  Rather than eating him, they dump him in a lake.  Jason recovers and makes his way to the surface.  Rather than going to kill them, he decides to go home, as he’s had enough of the world outside of Crystal Lake.

This is a fun mini-series.  I wish there had been more of Leatherface and Jason actually fighting, but three issues of this was probably a risk at that time anyhow, and to get anymore fighting we’d have needed a fourth issue.  Nancy Collins tells a fun tale that actually is much deeper than anything one could have expected with this title, and the covers alone are worth the price of admission.  Simon Bisley does a great job.

The worst thing about the series is that it shows us how fun Topps Comics was, publishing everything from this to X-Files to the Kirbyverse (covered here and here, and we also look at another Jason appearance here) with a large number of really good comics that drew from all sorts of source material.  It’s a shame that Topps didn’t survive to do sequels to this or to keep their other great titles going.  Alas, such is the fate of many a comic book company, especially during the 90’s.

Hope you have had a great time reading about two maniacs trying to kill each other!  We’ve got more great stuff around the bend here at The Unspoken Decade, so stick around!!

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Dream Come True (Part 1)

midsummersnightmareGreetings, Legions of the Unspoken! It is I, your loyal Symbifan, back with the first installment of my newest article just in time for my birthday! And what better way to celebrate than to share my passion with you, the readers, for the timeless DC classic Justice League: A Midsummer’s Nightmare?! No better way! So, without further ado….

rco009_1467648953Our tale begins with recent Green Lantern, Kyle Rayner, taking a break from writing/drawing a new page for his assigned comic book project. He seems to be having some difficulty deciding exactly which direction he wants to take with his story. And I mean, who can blame him with a lame character name like….Green Lantern?! Wait! Whaaaaaat?! (Sorry, Family Guy moment!) Anyway, he becomes discouraged and decides to go out for a cup of coffee. While his editor is blowing up his answering machine in his apartment, he meets up with a friendly neighbor lady and talks about his slump. They both enter the coffee shop, purchase their drinks, and say their goodbyes as she leaves for work. It’s a pretty typical day until she shoots off into the air and shapeshifts into a bird to join the hundreds of other flying people milling about their average work days! (Insert Twilight Zone music here!)

We then cut scene to The Daily Planet where reporter Clark Kent, sporting a stylish ponytail (What do ya want? It was the 90’s!), is currently enduring a lecture his from publisher, Perry White, about his work on a recent article about superpowered people (AKA “metahumans” to you Marvel mutant nuts). As Perry gets frustrated and storms off, Clark admits to a co-worker that he actually requests these types of stories, but when he attempts to write them, they seem less “real” to him.

RCO012_w_1467648953_kindlephoto-11141688At that moment, another co-worker enters with a gift for Perry, a paperweight. This is when Clark panics as the rock strikes a stunning resemblance to kryptonite! He quickly excuses himself and bolts though the office. As he make his escape, he hears several names spoken in other conversations that seem familiar to him. The readers know them to be the secret identities of some of DC’s other costumed adventurers. As he ponders what this means, we once again cut scene, this time to Wayne Manor.

RCO014_1467648953_kindlephoto-16583370This scene begins with Bruce Wayne reading the local newspaper and looking rather distressed. His assistant, Lucius Fox, senses his boss’s distress and exclaims that this must be due to the front page story about a bad business deal Wayne Enterprises was recently involved in. Wayne shows little interest in this and shows Lucius the back story about a recent horrific murder in the fair city of Gotham. (Big surprise, right?!) Bruce then orders his assistant to cut a check to make sure the survivor of the crime (A boy named Jason Todd! Cool huh?! I mean, huge fan of the Red Hood right here! There was this one time…..oh yeah, the article! Sorry! So embarrassing…..) want for nothing for the rest of his days. Lucius then remarks that Wayne can’t save everyone that has been a victim of a violent crime. To which Bruce replies in what I’m guessing is his dark and terrifying “Batman voice,” “Yes Lucius. I can.”

We are next transported to a scene of great danger and panic. A red-garbed figure streaks through an inferno at speeds so great that lightning follows him! As he runs, he thinks about how he is too late but doesn’t remember what for. He also thinks that there should be others with him. Who? He thinks he spies another in the flashing energy. He reaches out. This is when Wally West wakes up for school. Late again for class. What a slowpoke, he thinks.

RCO019_1467648953_kindlephoto-17448482I bet you “wonder” who’s next! (See what I did there? I just gave you a clue. Okay. Bad joke. Um….moving on.) We now find ourselves at the Themyscira School for Girls. The students are in the process of playing tug-of-war with a large rope, overseen by Headmistress Diana Prince. As the game begins, one girl pulls so hard that literally all of the other students are thrown as if the weighed no more collectively than a feather! Yes. They have a metahuman in their midst.

RCO022_w_1467648953 (1)_kindlephoto-33518579The girl, obviously frightened at the large mutated arm that has just replaced her average one, panics and smashes it through a tree! Diana, without thinking, flips through the air and blocks all of the girls from the onslaught of splinters with her bracelets! She then lassos the girl with the rope and forces her to calm down. Afterward, both headmistress and student both recover from the incident, utterly confused.

Meanwhile, in the boardroom of the Red Tide Tuna Company, (Anyone else think this company is in desperate need of a name change?!) the members of the board discuss their Vice President of Environmental Concerns, Arthur Curry. There’s a catty back and forth about how Arthur was only appointed his job and title to save the company from an inevitable lawsuit. It seems Arthur had lost a hand while working for the company.

RCO025_1467648953_kindlephoto-37120101While this juvenile exchange is taking place, Arthur’s chair is of course empty. He is still within his office. He knows how they feel about him. What a joke he is to them. While deep in thought, he looks out his office window and sees the large groups of environmental protesters. He thinks about how he, in actuality, belongs with them.

We now set our sights upon the red planet of the Milky Way Galaxy. That’s right, Mars. But it seems as if this barren and uninhabited wasteland is anything but as a Martian child is pictured running down the red dunes toward her mother. The child exclaims that she was told today in a learning ceremony that there may just be life on other planets. She then asks if such a thing could be possible and if her father believed this.

RCO027_1467648953_kindlephoto-37213557That’s when her father scoops her up in his arms with a smile and replies that he only believed in what he could see or touch but that it mattered little to him as long as these “aliens” never interfered with his happy life. (All I can say is, Martians need to invent a little something called….clothes! I mean, the red strap over the chest hardly hides anything! Have some shame, people!)

RCO028_1467648953_kindlephoto-71064149Meanwhile, we see a purple-haired, yet pixelated (You read that right. Pixelated! As if having purple hair isn’t enough!) man strolls right past what seems to be military guards in a presumably secret compound. He walks between the guards without notice and, in fact, right through the door as if he were a ghostly apparition! He descends the stairs beyond where a male in a helmet resembling a skull and tattered clothing sits. He is strapped to a high-tech chair in heavy restraints. The purple-haired man speaks with a smile to the prisoner about how the appearance of metahumans coming into their power is on the rise. He then asks what the strange captive has to say about this. The trapped man cries out in pain as if in reply.

RCO032_1467648953_kindlephoto-71150222We then rejoin reporter Clark Kent as he is finding cover during a metahuman battle in the center of Metropolis to record his thoughts into a handheld tape recorder. The carnage is truly epic as the two superpowered gangs tear up the city, putting countless civilians into harm’s way. While the battle reaches its height, a stray energy blast from one of the attackers hits the large golden globe above the Daily Planet building! As the landmark explodes into shrapnel, Clark has a flashback of another time. Of another life. He leaps into action, saving several civilians. The rubble narrowly misses them. An onlooker, seeking to save the hero, starts lifting a piece of the building’s wreckage. He finds no one because Clark has taken to the skies!

We then reenter the home of Bruce Wayne. As Bruce watches the news with obvious disgust, his parents enter the room! (Okay, DC! Now you’ve gone too far! That’s right, folks! The parents of Bruce Wayne are alive and well! Has the world gone utterly mad?! Has it?!! I’m sorry, but my mind is officially blown! Excuse me a moment while I take my meds…..)

RCO040_1467648953_kindlephoto-89388935(Okay. I’m back and feeling like my old Symbifan self. Continuing on….) His parents, completely unaware of Bruce’s shock, blather on and on about how he should give up his charity, travel the world, and basically enjoy his fortune. It’s then that his mother unknowingly snags her pearl necklace on the statue of a bat-like creature within the study. As she lifts her head, the necklace snaps and pearls fall everywhere. That’s when Bruce Wayne remembers and starts to wake up. He immediately starts looking for the secret entrance into the Bat Cave behind an old father clock. He finds nothing! He then turns and sees the awe-inspiring form of the Man of Steel hovering there in full costume! He tells Wayne to wake up. That he believes in him.

RCO042_1467648953_kindlephoto-89460374But before Bruce can say much in reply, a group of metahuman looters scale the gate to Wayne Manor, looking for an easy score! They picked the wrong mansion! Superman rushes out and easily dispatches of these young upstarts until one meta, in invisible form, tries to sneak up the Last Son of Krypton.

RCO047_1467648953_kindlephoto-89534572Before Superman can react however, a Batarang cracks the hoodlum in his see-through skull! The Batman has officially returned! (Time for a “World’s Finest” team-up, y’all!) The two speak seriously on the state of this nightmare of a world. It is decided that if they’re going to triumph this time, there going to need help.

End part one.

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Its Title Speaks for Itself: Magnus, Robot Fighter by Emily Scott

Sometimes, you hear the name of a comic book title, and it piques you interest, even if it doesn’t give you many clues what the comic is actually about. Maybe specifically because it doesn’t give you a lot of clues. Sometimes it’s an enigma. Sometimes it’s a comic literally called Enigma. And then sometimes, just sometimes, you get asked to write about a comic called Magnus, Robot Fighter, and you don’t need to know anything else about it. Why would you? It’s called Magnus, Robot Fighter. Even if you, dear Legions of the Unspoken, have never heard of this comic before this moment, I’m guessing you are more inclined to read about this unfamiliar title than if it were called, well, just about anything else.

And if this comic contained nothing of value but a man named Magnus fighting robots, I would not have been the slightest bit disappointed. I would have felt I received exactly what I was promised.

Mangus Chop
Well, that was cool — oh, there’s more?

Magnus fighting robots, though, is not all you get in his comic. Far from. Sometimes Magnus doesn’t fight robots. Sometimes Magnus feels conflicted about fighting robots. Sometimes Magnus refuses to fight robots. Sometimes Magnus talks to robots instead of fighting them. Sometimes Magnus fights people who want him to fight robots. And it’s terrific. Seriously, it’s really terrific reading about Magnus both fighting and not fighting robots. I cannot speak for the other incarnations of the character, but Jim Shooter and the folks at Valiant Comics do a bang up job of paying homage to the character’s origins with its retro futuristic look and feel while crafting conflicts and ideas and questions that we still wrestle with today.

Magnus, created by Russ Manning, first appeared in 1963 in a title from Gold Key Comics, which was published until 1977. Shooter obtained the rights to Magnus in 1991, along with two other Gold Key characters, Doctor Solar, Man of the Atom and Turok, Son of Stone, both of whom make appearances in Valiant’s Magnus and received their own Valiant titles. The character would later have titles published by Acclaim Comics, Dark Horse Comics, and Dynamite Entertainment, all with their own takes on Magnus with one very important consistency: dude fights robots.

Valiant_Magnus_01-00fc
Look at that. He is so good at fighting robots, he can karate chop one of their heads off, without looking at it, as an afterthought on his way to fighting the next one.

At the start of the first issue, Shooter quickly catches up readers not already familiar with Magnus, who is relatively new to the hero business. 1-A, the robot who raised Magnus as a foundling, recounts the story of how and why he decided to mold the human into a robot killing machine (not an actual machine, of course, although it does make one wonder why 1-A wouldn’t just make one of those instead of dealing with diapers and puberty). 1-A gains sentience some 400 years before the events of the comic, due to a power surge during a battle in the Martian uprising. (Every part of that sentence is cool.) The same surge causes one of his fellow robots to become violent and murder their human commander. 1-A has a good, long think about the possibility of another robot gaining free will and turning on humanity, and so he decides to make Magnus to be the savior of his people.

An inquisitive reader might wonder what 1-A does for the rest of those 375 or so years, whether Magnus was his first attempt to create a robot fighter, whether his motives might be more than they seem, and so on. These issues will be addressed later on in the comic, but for now all we know is that 1-A trained Magnus to fight and destroy robots, but he does not consider the act to be murder, nor does he consider himself or other robots to be alive, despite his many centuries as a sentient being acting of his own free will.

Magnus Leg
An inquisitive reader might also wonder how 1-A can build a giant underwater house and train a human meat bag to karate chop steel but can’t, say, FIX HIS OWN LEG.

 

 

We also learn from Magnus that an ever increasing number of robots have been gaining free will due to repeated power surges from a malfunctioning “tech-rob,” and their numbers could be as many as ten million. All of these rogue robots have kept Magnus’ punchin’ hands busy, but they have also given his brain a workout, causing him to speculate that with so many robots now having free will, they surely couldn’t all be hellbent on murdering humans. Of course, a robot name 0-1X chooses this moment of introspection to send out a message to all the robots who now have free will to tell them that they could easily succeed if they joined together to become hellbent on murdering humans. (“Blood rivers crushed from human meat will flow through the streets” are his exact words, a sort of beautifully poetic description for robots massacring people, which, if you ask me, just lends credence to 0-1X’s assertion that robots deserve to be treated like the sentient beings they are.)

In an attempt to keep the peace, Magnus heads back to North Am, the dystopia he inhabits where the upper crusts live softly and obliviously in huge, vertical “milespires.” He and his girlfriend Leeja Clane, a senator’s daughter with a touch of telepathy, are immediately attacked by a kamikaze robot, and Magnus momentarily and understandably forgets about the idea that not all free will robots are out to get them.

Magnus Squee
I like that dying robots make the same sound effect as tween girls when their ship becomes canon.

The president of North Am wants to negotiate with 0-1X and the other free will robots, but Senator Clane and Magnus have other ideas. Senator Clane receives a visit from 0-1X, who approaches him because the president is losing the support of his people and Clane’s popularity is on the rise after speaking out against negotiations. 0-1X pleads with Clane to work with him because many will die if they fight, and unlike humans, who can reproduce, each robot life is irreplaceable. While this is an interesting perspective on the value of the individual life and the opposite of what we tend to hear in the man vs. machine debate, Clane gives the response to negotiating that you would expect from the politician gaining popularity for coming out against negotiation. 0-1X returns to his fellow rebels and tells them that, “Human leaders are careless with the lives of their kind,” a notion I’m sure not going to argue with.

Meanwhile, with Leeja tagging along, Magnus decides to search for the rebels in the part of North Am where the dregs of society live, the Goph Lands, otherwise known as the ground. They find the rebel meeting, and Magnus confronts 0-1X and asks if he genuinely believes himself to be alive. 0-1X senses that Magnus is sincerely struggling with the choice between starting or preventing a war, but before their conversation can productively progress, the soldiers accompanying Magnus for back up prematurely burst in and start shooting up the place, as the goon squad so often does. Leeja is badly hurt in the ensuing struggle, and with no further adieu, the robot war is underway!

Magnus Damn It Timbuc
Damn it, Timbuc.

Magnus very quickly becomes very busy fighting robots as they engage in guerilla tactics to take down North Am, but even if he is able to burn through them like a hot robo-knife through whatever they eat instead of butter in the year 4001, it is still ugly, dirty, and unpleasant work, as the header image to this article demonstrates. The robots don’t particularly care for being punched to death, nor do they particularly care for being dissected while still sentient to figure out what gives them free will. Magnus demands that one such robot be released from such treatment, still struggling with the morality of his profession. Another free will robot gives his comrade the gift of mercy and attempts to flee, but when he realizes Magnus is present, he destroys himself rather than be destroyed.

Magnus Torch
Seriously, what is up with these robots being so graphically poetic about humans dying?

The incident clearly leaves a sour taste in the mouth of Magnus, who is unable to muster any enthusiasm for the war at a dinner Senator Clane holds to celebrate Leeja’s recovery. After telling off his fellow diners, Magnus hesitates long enough for a rogue robot, who had just attempted an attack on them, to escape. That robot, W-23, shows up at his apartment because of a common trait: they both dislike that it is their duty to kill the other. During their conversation, Magnus notices that W-23 has a slight vibration, the lone trait that differentiates a free will robot from those still under human control and the key to robot genocide. Magnus has no desire to report his discovery but correctly surmises both that other humans will notice and that 0-1X will launch an all-out offensive once he figures it out himself.

On cue, a metric fuck ton of robots show up, and Magnus is attacked. He fights his way to 0-1X and attempts another conversation, but 0-1X believes it is too late for talk since the longer they wait, the more likely it is that humans will discover the vibration. Clane shows up with some North Am soldier robots and orders Magnus arrested for letting 0-1X escape. Magnus is all like, “Nah, bro,” and heads off to the Goph Lands, where they again try to arrest him. W-23 helps Magnus escape, and the human tells the robot he must convince 0-1X to stop his attack.

W-23 may have a tough time reasoning with 0-1X, though, since the free will robots are doing a pretty splendid job taking over North Am. While they engage in their final push to take over the mainbrain, North Am’s super computer, and with it control of North Am’s thirty-two billion robots, the human leadership gets a status report detailing just how dire the situation has become: over three million defense robots have been destroyed, two human commanders slightly injured, and four human commanders fainted! The horror! With defeat looming as an ever increasing inevitability, Clane tells the president he should gives the robots what they want, but the president tells him that it’s too late. He gives Clane his job and says he plans to fuck off to the moon to wait the whole thing out. His retirement, unfortunately, is short lived.

Magnus Bugger Off
Hasn’t he ever seen a cop movie? He’s supposed to get shot in the face right BEFORE he retires, not after.

The humans use every robot they’ve got to stop the free wills, and they are able to stave off defeat with the help of Magnus, who reenters the fray to prevent humanity’s destruction. He still refuses Leeja’s pleas to help weed out the rest of the free will robots and says he would rather go live in the Goph Lands than kill again. Shockingly, she refuses to join him.

During the final battle, W-23 helps 0-1X escape to a wildlife preserve that the free wills have been using as a base. He tells W-23 that they will be hunted one by one till no free will robots remain and shows him the hidden remains of T-1, a think-rob who became the first free will robot, powerful enough to override any human command. 0-1X wants to use circuitry from T-1 to improve his own mind and avert their demise, but it is a risky endeavor, since tampering with the mind of a free will robot has previously resulted in their losing their autonomy.

The procedure seems to be unsuccessful (or, as we later learn, was intentionally sabotaged by W-23), and W-23 moves on with a new makeover courtesy of a passing scavenger named Elzy. He renames himself Tekla and models his new form after Leeja, believing humans (and, let’s be honest here, Tekla, Magnus in particular) will find it pleasing. Tekla intends to become the new leader of the free will robots and hopefully prevent their extinction, but just as Magnus, done with fighting for North Am, pledges his help, they receive an unexpected surprise:

Magnus Swerve
I sure hope those are just the four humans who fainted…

Turns out Elzy, with no knowledge of who she was helping, gave 0-1X a jolt to revive him, after which he has no trouble taking over the mainbrain and all of North Am’s billions of robots. With humanity now basically helpless, Tekla makes the case to allow the humans to live. 0-1X agrees, but only on the condition that Magnus surrender. If he does not, he will put a billion humans to death, a thousand for every robot killed. Clane sends out a plea to Magnus to turn himself, and even though he claims to no longer care for his own species, he decides to see things through at the request of someone he does still care about: 1-A.

Magnus What is Love
I will never be able to hear that question and not immediately think, “Baby, don’t hurt me.”

Magnus fights some more robots, but in the end he is able to dispatch 0-1X pretty easily with a decapitating karate chop. He destroys the mainbrain for good measure, prevents Timbuc from killing any more rogues, and once again offers Tekla his assistance with the other free will robots, but Tekla does not think the others will so readily accept help from 01-X’s killer. Magnus also gets a message from 1-A, instructing him to continue his hunt of the free will robots, on a device 1-A implanted in his head so that he could receive and understand robot transmissions, but it seems Magnus has developed some free will of his own.

Magnus Metal
Wow, Magnus, that’s really (pun completely intended) metal.
Magnus Man
Magnus….Robot Adjacent

OK, now the story’s really over, right? I mean, what is Magnus, Robot Fighter without a guy named Magnus fighting robots? Fear not, Legions! Just because Magnus is done being North Am’s resident robot killing thug, it does not mean there are no more robots to fight. And humans to fight. And robots and humans to prevent from fighting each other. You get the idea.

In all seriousness, this was a comic I wanted to continue long after I’d read enough to write about it, which isn’t always the case, even for comics I really enjoyed. The art is beautiful, and the writing is sharp. The subject matter doesn’t feel tired, even though a lot of its content has been told in different ways in different formats many times over. The comic is far from brainless but also contains a plethora of the simple pleasure of seeing a guy repeatedly put his fists through robots’ faces. What more could you want?

A robot named Grandmother who contains and nurtures the entirety of the nation of Japan and later turns into a fire breathing, alien fighting lizard spaceship? Well, Magnus got you covered.

Magnus Japan
Pictured: Japan.

A female lead who fakes her own death during the robot uprising and uses her family’s political background to help a newly liberated robot society establish itself? And also become a badass and save her ex-boyfriend and the world? All while wearing one of the least practical outfits I’ve ever seen a lady in a comic book wear, which is really saying something? Magnus got you covered.

Magnus Impractical
It would legitimately be more practical to just be topless.

There are dinosaurs and samurai and lasers and I don’t even know what else because eventually I had to pick a stopping point so that I could tell you about the cool things in this comic. Just make a list of cool stuff. It’s probably in here. Unless your list contains Jason Voorhees or Leatherface, who may not be in Magnus but who are in Jason vs. Leatherface, which you can soon read all about in Dean Compton’s much anticipated return to The Unspoken Decade. Until then, Legions!

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The Gimmick Era Has Never Been Covered So Well.

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