It's the halfway point for the first arc of MAGNUS: ROBOT FIGHTER, written by Fred Van Lente and drawn by Cory Smith, and it's been one exciting reboot to this classic, Gold Key character. Van Lente took the time to answer a few of our questions about the series and rebooting this character at Dynamite comics.
COMIC VINE: For those who missed out on the first arc, what's been going on in MAGNUS ROBOT FIGHTER?
FRED VAN LENTE: Russell Magnus thought he was a small-town phys ed instructor and history teacher but he's woken in an insane (to him) future where robots vastly outnumber humans and consider his kindly old AI "father," 1A, a dangerous terrorist. So Magnus is desperately trying to find 1A to find out what's going on while keeping one step ahead of the North Am authorities, including the relentless and ruthless Leeja Clane, a "Human Hunter" who happens to be human herself.
CV: What was it like to reboot this classic Gold Key character?
FVL: It's been awesome. The original series was amazing, and I'm able to poke fun at our modern world quite a bit in it, like all good sci-fi does. A robot is essentially a copy of a human, and so it enters into questions not just like what it means to be human, but it what it means to be essential, original, can a replica be better than its antecedent, that sort of thing.
Also there's lots of kung fu-ing robots until they explode! That is Magnus's signature talent.
CV: Without spoiling anything, what can fans expect from this next arc?
FVL: In his search for 1A, Magnus has descended into the bowels of the city where he's discovered the "Gophs," gangs of feral humans that live in the Sub-Structure of North Am without any robot supervision whatsoever. But of course he is still being pursued by Leeja -- and a faction of robots called "Transmechs", who have some very usual -- and sinister -- plans for him.
CV: In the first arc, Cory Smith did the art, which looked pretty fantastic. Will he be continuing to work with you on the next arc?
FVL: He will! And I couldn't be more excited. Cory's designs, storytelling, and action are the highlight of the book. He'll be getting a little help on #5, but after that is all Smith, all of the time.
CV: While writing this book, which is based off a classic character, do you want to dip into past stories at all or do you like to keep everything completely fresh?
FVL: I have been grabbing stuff from the old books, but tweaking them to fit our story and its more modern sensibility. Magnus, Leeja, and her father, Senator Clane, all OG-Gold Key, though in our book Clane is a representative of the Synod, the religious body that rules North Am. The Gophs are pretty much what they were in the Gold Key series, though in the original they had these silly Omega Man-type robes we've done away with. H8 was the villain in the first Gold Key issue, and we've made him a wise-cracking sidekick in this version.
CV: In an age filled with longer story arcs, sometimes sweeping over 20 issues, do you prefer to go the longer route with your stories or do you prefer to keep it a bit shorter, much like the first arc of MAGNUS and why?
FVL: Well, you serve the story, you know? Some projects lend themselves to length, other to brevity. MAGNUS is a story with a distinct middle and end for me. By the time we finish the second story arc we'll be about halfway through it. But publishing plans change all the time, so you have to be flexible. So I have built in some wriggle room for myself. But this is the definitely one of the longer-arced stories I've planned for in my work-for-hire career, and I hope I get the opportunity to see it to the end.
CV: If you could put any famous robot into this book for Magnus to fight, who would it be and why?
FVL: The Vision -- his insubstantiality powers would give Magnus a real run for his money. That would be a good fight!
CV: Is there anything better than being able to write a comic about a man punching robots?
FVL: Being a man punching robots?
CV: Aside from robot punching, what's your favorite thing about working on this book?
FVL: Working with Cory. He really is a superstar in the making and it's fun to bounce ideas off him. He comes with so many great ideas himself, he's really a perfect collaborator.
Big thanks to Fred Van Lente for answering all of our questions and make sure to check out MAGNUS ROBOT FIGHTER which is currently available at your LCS!