Mitt Romney, Robot Fighter!
Magnus, Robot Fighter #1
Story and Art by Russ Manning
Gold Key, 1963
by kyle Minor
Happy 2008 to one and all! Happy, of course, because 2008 is a long-awaited presidential election year here in the U.S. of gosh-darn A. Long-awaited, I think, by quite a LOT of us… but I digress.
On second thought… I actually DON’T digress (I guess there is a first time for everything). Living happily in my little left-coast liberal bubble, I love entertaining notions of what “Life After W” will be like, and when I’m not picturing an idyllic landscape of sustainable agriculture and energy, universal healthcare, a bolstered American reputation across the globe, and jet-packs for every registered Democrat, I occasionally go to my Dark Place. In that Place, I imagine what might happen if right-wing Republicans continue on in the White House… and into perpetuity!
It’s hardly the vision of, say, city-wide open fire-pits, burning charnel and garbage to provide power to a small group of bloated elite rulers who have lost the use of their spines due to overindulgence and inactivity (think Apokolips meets MojoWorld). No… really what I often picture is the future as it would have been imagined by white guys in the 1950s. I mean… what the Right Wingers often imply (when they don’t say it outright, of course) is that they have a fervent wish to roll back the clock to a time of strong “family values,” when Dad was Dad and Mom was Mom and their youngest gay son just manned up and married a nice ugly gal instead of moving off to Boystown to open up his own barber shop/leather goods emporium.
It’s a future where everyone who doesn’t love Lucy certainly loves Raymond. It’s a nice, sanitized, cleaned-up version of the future. And it’s awful! Oppressively, soul-crushingly, Stepford-ly awful!
Strangely enough, it’s a world depicted with chilling accuracy in Russ Manning’s 1963 Gold Key classic Magnus, Robot Fighter #1. I’ve wondered if the Far Right had begun to monitor my innermost thoughts… and now I have the proof! Because it so closely mirrors my own worst-case scenario, and especially after the events of this past week, I find myself reading the re-print of this comic that Jim Shooter and Valiant kindly put out in 1992 with a new sense of familiarity. Specifically… Magnus has got to be some kind of descendant of Mitt Romney!
Now that Governor Mittens has bowed out of the presidential race, he’s got no immediate plans, so what better way to spend away his millions than in finishing up his hobby of making sure that future generations of Americans won’t have to be subjugated by super-strong, destruction-resistant robot masters.
I think Romney and his brood would make excellent Robot Fighters, especially considering Mitt’s many similarities to our hero Magnus. First, there is the obvious: As much as I disagree with his politics… I have to admit that Mr. Romney is a G.I.L.F.! The square jaw, the trim waist, the sparkling eyes, the grey temples… just go ahead and open another Firefox tab and Google Image him. Go ahead… I’ll wait.
See what I mean? The pictures that aren’t downright foxy show him to be merely disarmingly handsome. The same can be said of our hero Magnus, the all-American brown haired beauty. Sure his biceps are likely decidedly larger than Mitt’s, and he wears a kicky little red sleeveless chain-mail skirt-and-tunic number, and I know for a FACT that Mitt got rid of his pair of white calf-high boots, but other than the wardrobe and a few treatments of Human Growth Hormone, they look exactly the same! We know Mitt’s genes are potent – just look at all those clones… er, I mean SONS of his. There’s no reason to doubt that his great-great-great-(insert 80 more ‘greats’ here)-great grandson might not be carrying on the Romney family good looks well into the 41st Century.
As for the robot fighting part? Well… certainly many of Mitt’s sons have already been accused of actually BEING robots, so 80 plus generations from now, Magnus Romney would probably be pretty interested in rebelling against the family norms.
Magnus’ story is a pretty amusing, if quaintly old-fashioned tale of teenaged rebellion, ca. the year 4000 AD. We meet Magnus as his robot nanny/parental unit/role model/sensei, the golden-yellow robot 1-A.
Setting aside the incredible irony of a Robot Fighter being RAISED by a robot (more evidence of a Romney connection, you might say), there remains the startling situation that, from the time he was an infant in diapers, Magnus was brought up by 1-A in a “bubble house in the deepest part of the Antarctic Ocean.” I don’t have to remind you that something like that would cost a ‘bot-load of money, so who better to provide same than an ancient millionaire-cum-visionary from the 21st century who made some wise investments in Staples, Brookstone, Domino's, Sealy Corporation and Sports Authority?
Despite having been brought up in total isolation on the bottom of the ocean, Magnus turns out to be an affable guy who’s sheer charisma, winning smile, and shaved, shapely legs win over the rebellious Leeja, who is fighting against the robot oppressors as well. How these robots are oppressing mankind is slightly unclear at first: the sprawling city of Northam, which covers the whole North American continent, seems clean and well-kept due to the efforts of the robots. Robots prepare and serve food at restaurants, open car doors, and drive cabs for the humans. What could be wrong with that?
Young Magnus Romney knows, though... 1-A was programmed with good old-fashioned family values, so Magnus is taught how the robots play violent sports like football for the humans’ entertainment, so people won’t get physically injured. Much more sinister, though, is that they forbid humans from reading certain books about their own history, like one about how “the tyrant Hitler” was killed in 1945, ending the war. The robot who is shown destroying such a book that some curious youngsters are reading explains that humans might “try such adventures again and come to harm.” Therefore the book is forbidden. The merry kids thank him for his trouble by pushing him off a high building to his death.
When the Polrobs (Police Robots, silly) arrive to ship those rebellious young scamps off to a re-education and detention center, it’s Magnus to the rescue! He promptly smashes the Polrobs with a few well-placed karate chops (I’m not kidding). This endears him to the little whippersnappers, but soon, the Riotrobs are on their way to apprehend the “human robot smasher.”
When the future Romney makes his getaway thanks to Leeja, who is also on the run from the Polrobs for driving too fast – seriously. She’s speeding. Wow Leeja! Way to stick it to the man... er, I mean rob. Magnus disables a few more metal marauders and cleverly re-programs one to obey only his orders. His plan is to have that robot escort him to Central Rob (see a theme, here?) so he can finally find “the evil that changed good robots into bad ones.” Ah... NOW I get it! Robots that scrub out your dirty undies = Good. Robots who burn your copy of All Quiet on the Western Front? Bad, of course. Where, though, does that put the ones who get into brawls on the hockey rink for your entertainment? That’s what I love so much about black-and-white worlds... eventually you’ll see a shade of grey.
Magnus and the future Mrs. Leeja Romney eventually find themselves brought before the Polrob’s chief, the appropriately-named H8, which he cleverly pronounces “Hate.” H8 explains that he was long ago made police chief by humans because they thought him incorruptible, but exposure to that demon atomic radiation caused an “alteration” in his brain circuits, so that he finally saw that he and all robots were stronger, smarter and therefore superior to humans. Holy Adam and Eve in the Garden, H8! I wish we had never messed about with atomic power!
Just before the dramatic final battle of Magnus vs. H8 (during which Leeja must have been getting a few good shots of the young Romney’s junk under his micro-mini), we discover that H8 has been placing all rebellious free-thinking humans into a computer which uses their brains as a processor. Just when victory for Magnus seems assured, H8 demands the human-powered machine help him destroy our hero.
But the humans in the machine, though apparently comatose, are having none of it, and somehow generate “a violent, spitting cyclone of electronic fire” out of thin air which incapacitates H8, so that Magnus can deliver the killing blow. A “spitting cyclone,” though? I mean... I’ve heard of the Blue Screen of Death, but that is just ridiculous.
With H8 out of the picture, Magnus was free to face a dramatic, wind-swept rooftop sunset with Leeja, the mother of his future Romneys, vowing to track down every evil mis-programmed tyrannical robot and smash them up, with cleanup services presumably to be provided by the “good” robots who weren’t rubbing the scuff marks off those white boots of his.
So, take heart Mormons and right-wing Republicans everywhere! You may have lost Governor Mittens as a potential leader of the free world, but he’s now free to start building that secret vacation Bubble House for he’s been dreaming about for so long. And from that house, my friends, will some day come a Robot Fighter of such prowess, such bravery, and such pectoral definition, that humans will never again be denied the pleasure of, say, full-contact Rugby.
We still won’t have to park our own cars, though. Those Romney’s aren’t crazy after all!
San Francisco resident Kyle Minor continually urges all US conservative Christian Republicans to please please please vote Mike Huckabee for President. He won the primary in Kyle’s home state of West Virginia, after all, so how bad can he be?
Review copyright Kyle Minor.
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