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CSBG Archive

Silver Age September – The Debut of Magnus, Robot Fighter!

After a month of spotlighting the strange (if endearingly strange) history of comic books (and especially the Silver Age), I think it is worthwhile to show the comic books of the Silver Age that are simply great stories period. Here is an archive of all the Silver Age comics features so far!

Today we take a look at the debut of Magnus, Robot Fighter in the pages of (appropriately enough) 1963’s Magnus, Robot Fighter #1. The comic was written and drawn by the legendary Russ Manning!


Russ Manning created the character of Magnus and wrote and drew the comic for 21 issues. They were some amazing comic books.

Check out how he begins #1 with the ball already rolling…

As you can tell, Manning was really pushing the Tarzan angle right from the get-go (the comic strip that Manning had become famous for drawing).

Manning was such a brilliant sequential artist – check out the action in these scenes…

It’s amazing how straightforward and simple his lines are, and yet so dynamic and forceful. He was a master.

Here’s Magnus’ origin from the issue, which is also the issue where he first meets his love interest, Leeja Crane…

Fabulous stuff. Really, all of Manning’s Magnus work was top-rate. Heck, pretty much all of Manning’s work PERIOD was top-rate!


Bendis should start more of his comics with guys punching robots in the neck.

I’ve read some of Manning’s Star Wars strips and they were good. This is even better. Everything just pops.

In the future, everyone wears skirts.

Wow, this is great stuff. I love how it melds Asimov’s laws of robotics with a play on the Tarzan story. So cool.

Typo hunter me has to point out that you put her name as “Crane” and not “Clane”.

If you dig this, you should hunt down the Magnus/Nexus 2 issue mini that Valiant and Dark Horse did in, oh, ’93, ’94? Baron and Rude, and The Dude’s stuff is just about as awesome as this.

I wonder, is the way that robots are depicted here an influence on how robots are depicted in Judge Dredd? Not just the shapes and all, but the “naming” of the robots and-the-stilted-way-the-robots-talk.

Good stuff here.

And for anyone that hasn’t read them, I’ve always thought Jim Shooter’s first 11 issues of the Valiant Magnus series are some of the best comics of the 90s. Absolutely fantastic stuff that deserves to be in hardcover.

@Third Man: I agree, they were great! And I’d say that when John Ostrander took over writing duties it got even better.

Have these stories been reprinted in any form recently?

I LOLed when 1A called Magnus Man-Child.

Squeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! Loved this stuff.

Yeah, this comic is just about a guy in a skirt karate chopping robots to death, and it is excellent.

@sandwich eater: I believe that Dark Horse has been reprinting a lot of this stuff in Archives books. They’ll run about 50 bucks, but it looks like it’s worth it.

And Bill commenting makes me think: Magnus vs Atomic Robo. ooh!

Russ Manning is criminally overlooked as a creator these days. He was Steve Rude before Steve Rude, Mike Allred before Mike Allred. Nice to seehim get a tiny taste of the recognition he so woefully deserves!!!

Never forget Gold Key!

This … is … gorgeous. I have to ‘fess that I’ve been ignorant of Russ Manning until now. So much to love here … the typeface on the title page, the mise en scene (love the air cars!), the gorgeous girls, the lovely clear lines. If I’m picking nits the one thing I don’t love is the square speech bubbles. Thanks so much for hipping me to this.

Dark Horse has published a trade paperback reprinting several of the early Magnus issues at a very reasonable price. I was surprised at how many of the early issues I had read as a youth. It had to have been in the many reprints of the material that Gold Key published in the 70’s.

the one problem is that like many older comic books, there is a formula to the stories. The publishers assumed that their readership turned over every three years or so, and Gold Key published most of their books as bimonthlies or quarterlies, no matter how popular they were. Thus, the stories tended to be similar after a while. So if you get the collections, read them slowly, one story at a time, as they were intended, and you’ll appreciate them even more.

Yes, Jim is right. The stories tended to be similar after a while. So, I quit the series after it seemed that the series was going nowhere. Still, it is a beautiful series to have. Such great art. And, in the beginning, all kinds of promise.

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