X-Men: Magneto Testament #1 Review
X-Men: Magneto Testament #1 Review by Hugo Bravo
Written by Greg Pak
Art by Carmine Di Giandomenico
A while back I said that no one was really asking for a retelling of Eddie Brock's origin. I stand firmly by that statement, all while acknowledging that sometimes an origin of a popular character we don't expect can be a very good thing. This is the case in Greg Pak's latest series X-Men: Magneto – Testament. Instead of focusing on any one previous version, Greg Pak takes a bit of each and creates a childhood before the horrors of the concentration camp where Magneto will finally determine his role in mutantkind. Pak could not have chosen a better subject, and his documented research and attention to details for a project such as this is commendable.
Before he was Erik Leshnerr, he was Max Eisenhardt, an intelligent, skinny nine-year old boy in pre-WWII Germany. Rather than being rewarded for his intelligence (and his surprising ability to throw a metal javelin), he is labeled as a ‘cunning Jew' by his principal, unfairly doubted and publicly ridiculed in front of his classmates. This behavior by any school district would not be tolerated in any other society, but Nazi Germany was unlike any other society the world had ever seen, and hopefully ever will see.
The story draws you into the time period, right in the middle of the Reich's rise to power. In the midst of evil, you forget that this young man will grow up to be one of the most feared and respected characters in the Marvel Universe. The despicable acts by authority figures and classmates towards Max and his family, or anyone even suspected of being Jewish are shown with heartbreaking honesty. But soon you see the signs that will drive Eisenhardt to his role as Magneto. I absolutely loved the subtle way that Max's powers are introduced within the first page. You do not quite see Max's pent-up rage of the horrid injustices in his life, but they're clearly there by the end of the book, and I cannot wait for Greg Pak to show me more, even if I already know how the series will end.
Unfortunately, Carmine Di Giandomenico's pencils may not be to everyone's liking. My biggest complaint is in Magda, a young servant girl who will eventually be Magneto's wife and the mother of his children. Her and Max look so much alike in some panels that you almost expect them to be long-lost twin brother and sister. It's incredibly distracting, especially in panels where the two appear side by side. In many places, the character design looks a bit rushed, making some characters look tired and somewhat lifeless. Of course this could have been done on purpose, to not only help illustrate the mood of the story, but to create a real sense of sympathy for the Eisenhardt family, especially for young Max. Though he speaks very little in his own book, his bright, round eyes are all the narration you need.
Though the art suffers in some places, the Marvel Knights imprint continues its tradition of high-quality stories outside of Marvel's big events with Magneto: Testament. It may be rare to see the young man who will grow up to be Magneto in such a fragile, tormented state, but I feel it will be crucial to understanding this complex, marvelous character. He truly is a product of his environment.