Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Review - Magnus #1 (@DynamiteComics)


AI is nice when it can turn on your lights or warm your house before you get home. AI isn't so nice when it thinks it's better than you and wants to do something about it. That's where having someone like Dr. Kerri Magnus in Magnus #1 from Dynamite Comics is very helpful. The issue is written by Kyle Higgins, illustrated by Jorge Fornés, colored by Chris O'Halloran and lettered by Taylor Esposito. The Turok back-up story written by Chuck Wendig, illustrated by Alvaro Sarrasecca, colored by Triona Farrell and lettered by Taylor Esposito.

Do humans dream of owning electric sheep? Artificial intelligences, rather than becoming our overlords, have settled into an uneasy symbiosis with humanity - they work for us as our colleagues and servants, earning vacation time they spend in a boundless digital universe running on human-maintained server farms. But not all AIs are cool with the deal. Enter Magnus - a human psychologist tasked with navigating both worlds in order to bring recalcitrant AIs back into productive society... BONUS TUROK STORY! The all-new saga of the all-new Turok continues: He's a man on a mission, possessed, and he won't let anyone or anything get in his way!

Higgins seems to acknowledge the inevitable march to a world governed by AI and that's what makes Magnus #1 work so well. There are two components to the issue: the first emphasizes the revolt simmering under the surface for the AI servants; the second is the role Dr. Kerri Magnus plays in bridging the gap between human and AI. Dr. Magnus is something of an AI-whisperer and Higgins smartly funnels the story through her involvement. Higgins doesn't race to drop Magnus on the reader; instead, he methodically builds up to her introduction and further involvement with the events as they unfold throughout the issue. The dialogue enforces a very clear divide between human and AI sense of morality wrapped around a pretty straightforward whodunnit of sorts.

Fornés' artwork successfully blends together characters that are both human and AI in nature. This gives the entire issue a unified approach that lends itself well to the overarching premise that the two are co-existing in a relatively uneasy state of hostile tranquility. Fornés illustrates the book with a tenseness in the panels that reinforces that combustibility and reminds the reader that not every character in the issue is born naturally. There's even a throwback to some of comics' more pulp sensibilities in the issue in the way that Fornés frames some of the character perspectives. O'Halloran chose a pretty simple and muted color palette to finish the book that helps engender a different atmosphere for the reader to be transported to while reading.

Magnus #1 isn't exactly treading new ground in its approach, but what it does offer is still very strong and enjoyable. Dr. Magnus is a rarity in the world of Magnus #1 and is being tasked with quelling a simmering battle. Higgins' script is a slow and fantastic build-up to its main goal. Fornés' artwork is rife with characters expressive of a variety of emotions, all of which come together for a more cohesive tale. Magnus #1 is a great first issue that nails everything it's going for while getting reader set up for more.

Magnus #1 is available now.

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