Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Magnus, Robot Fighter

Always loved Gold Key comics, with those incredible painted covers that always seemed like way too much work to put in for a flimsy comic book in the late '60's / early '70's. And here's one of the best, Magnus Robot Fighter from the incomparable Russ Manning.

Set in a future where the populace's every need is met by slave robots, creating ' a race of only to play and watch TV ' what this future world needed was a real man. Particularly as nary a day went by without the robots rising up and attempting to slaughter their human masters.
Trained by a kindly robot, our hero Magnus is guided from childhood to fight evil ' Robs', mainly by the supercool expedient of karate chopping their heads off.

To be fair, Magnus himself is a bit square-jawed and personality free, though chaste girlfriend Leeja is kind of hot in that Wally Wood ' let's sneak this under the Comics Code' way that heroines in the late '60's were.
The major draw anyway is, of course, Manning's squeaky clean linework, and his delination of a Flash Gordon-esque world of the future.

Manning saw Magnus as a ' Tarzan of the future, man at his simplest ', however after finishing the first story, with Magnus wearing nothing but a loin cloth and sandals, was told to ' put some clothes on the guy '.
He was originally supposed to be in black boots, as seen on the cover of the first issue, but a mix-up in the colouring department led to a robot smashing career in the more familiar, and camper, white ones.

As for that super karate chop move, credit for that goes to Manning's wife Dodie, after the initial idea that Magnus would carry around an unfeasibly large stone hammer: ' She suggested doing away with the kookie hammer and maybe having him karate the robots, or leap on their shoulders and unscrew their heads! I laughed deprecatingly at the unscrew bit, and sneakily adopted her superb ' bare hand against robot metal idea...and must certainly give her credit for what I feel is surely one of the deepest felt reasons for reader association with the Robot Fighter'

1 comment:

  1. Besides the wonderfully clean artwork, Manning had a real expertise in portraying Magnus in dynamic shots, constantly contorting his body chopping a robot's head or leaping/diving through the air. You can never go wrong with Russ Manning from the 1960s onward. This is probably why he ultimately became one of the top Tarzan ultimate comic artists in the business. :)