Magnus #7, "Power of the 1000!"

MAGNUS ROBOT FIGHTER #7; August 1964; Gold Key Comics; Chase Craig, editor (I

think); featuring Magnus in "The Power of the One Thousand!", written and
drawn by Russ Manning.  (This story was reprinted in MAGNUS #29, Nov. 1971, which
is what I'm actually referring to for this review, and also appears in Dark
Horse Comics' hardcover MAGNUS archive volume, just published.  Please note if
you haven't read this story and are considering buying the archive--which I
highly recommend-- this review will contain SPOILERS for the story.)

Review by Bill Henley

On the cover by Russ Manning, Magnus judo-thorws the villain Xyrkol as a
robot fires a flamethrower at him.  (However, I'm not 100% sure that this cover
which appeared on #29 was also the original cover of's a line drawn
cover, and most of the early MAGNUS covers were painted.) 

As a spacecraft "from the far reaches of the galaxy" lands at the main
spaceport of North Am, the futuristic supercity of 4000 AD, a squad of robots
emerges... and instead of going docilely about their duties, they go berserk,
attacking humans and other robots while making shrill "SQUEE-AWWW!"  "SQUEEEOOOO"
noises.  Port officials call for the aid of "Riot-Robs" against the rampaging
"Ship-Robs".  After just a few minutes, the ship-robs suddenly fall to pieces--
but then, the port-robs and riot-robs flip out noisily in the same way.  "IT'S
A PLAGUE!  The port-robs have caught it!  And they're SPREADING it!"  Efforts
to isolate the port are too late, as an infected robot crashes through the
gate into the heart of the city.  Meanwhile, Magnus, the man trained to physical
and mental perfection in order to battle hostile automatons, is trying to
take a day off from robot-fighting, and he takes a stroll with girlfriend Leeja
Clane; "Oh, Magnus... isn't this a glorious time of the year?"  "It is when I'm
with...." Before Magnus can finish his endearment, he is interrupted by a mob
of humans as crazed as the robots.  "RUN!  RUN!  BERSERK ROBOTS!  PLAGUE!
THEY'LL KILL US!"   Seeing Magnus, the panicky populace beg for his help, and
ordering Leeja to shelter behind him, he takes on the whole swarm of plague-robs.
While karate-chopping off robotic heads,  Magnus realizes, "These robots ARE
mad!  The robot speech receptor in my head is receiving only gibberish from
them!"  Then the infected robots start crumbling apart, but this does little to
relieve the human's panic; "It's the PLAGUE!  WE'LL CATCH IT, TOO!"  Even
Leeja worries about the catching the plague, but Magnus tries to reassure her;
"So far, I"VE had no reaction!"  Shortly, Magnus and Leeja are summoned to an
emergency session of the City Council, chaired by Leeja's father Senator Clane,
where Magnus and others report on the situation.  The good news is that the
infected robots collapse after five minutes of berserk destructiveness and that
flesh and blood are in no direct danger; "Our doctors find no trace in humans!
It is a METALLIC plague!"  The bad news is that the plague is spreading
rapidly from robot to robot and "unless we stop it, every robot in North Am will
be destroyed!"  "Perhaps that would be a good thing!" Magnus muses.  But the
Council doesn't want to hear Magnus's crazy notions that humans might be
stronger if they didn't have so many robot servants to depend on, and they give
orders to quarantine the city center, moving every "healthy" robot away from the
area and inspecting all privately owned robots.  At first the plan seems to
work, but then Magnus points out that it will fail unless every single robot in
the city is checked out, and that one segment of the population isn't going
along with the program.  "The GOPHS!  Petty criminals and anti-socials! 
Gopher-like people who never leave the lowest levels except to cause trouble!"  The
Gophs have hidden their robots rather than allow them to be inspected, and now
their robots have caught the plague and are running rampant on the lower levels
of the city.

Sen. Clane urges sending Riot-robs to bring the Gophs in line, but Magnus
warns, "Riot-robs would only become infected!  It will take more than FORCE to
convince the Gophs this is for their own good!  Perhaps if I talked to them...."
The Senator and Leeja agree to join the parley, but they confront a mob of
gray-robed, sullen Gophs who are convinced that "IT'S A TRICK!  You'll KEEP our
robots and make us WORK!"  Egged on by a mysterious rigure from the rear of
the crowd, the Gophs attack Magnus, forcing him to choose between using his
full strength on mere humans or risking Leeja's life.  "STOP, PEOPLE!  Don't make
me hurt you!  What chance have you against one who can SMASH ROBOTS?"  But
then, a foe appears who is more formidable than a mob of humans-- Xyrkol, the
walrus-mustached alien warlord who fought Magnus on previous occasions. 
Magnus's steel-smashing strength is no protection agains the stun-ray gun he carries.
To Sen. Clane and Leeja, Xyrkol gloats that "the remote control personal
sub-space drive that I ALONE possess" got him out of the seemingly inescapable
doom he faced at the end of his previous appearance.... and it will also whisk
him and the unconscious Magnus away to his "lab beyond the stars".  And so it
does, leaving the Senator baffled as to Magnus' whereabouts and a bereft Leeja
sobbing, "No, no!  I'll never see my Magnus again!"  But then an old woman in
a Goph-like robe approaches, offering, "Perhaps....perhaps I can help!"  "Go
away, beggar woman!" the Senator orders, but she draws herself up and advises,
"I am no beggar!  Nor am I a Goph!"  Her name is M'Ree, and she and her son
owe their lives to Magnus, for they were among the one thousand humans who (in
the first MAGNUS story in issue #1) were enslaved by the evil master robot H-8
and linked together to provide him with mental energy.  Magnus destroyed H-8
and freed them, but how can they help him now?  "We discovered that 1,000
brains linked together have strange, incredible powers! But we must all be gathered
in one spot....!"  Sen. Clane agrees to help bring the One Thousand together,
"though I'm afraid I don't understand!"  "Neither do I, Father!  But HURRY!"

Meanwhile, "On the other side of our galaxy, 50,000 light-years from Earth,
is the planet Malev-6, sixth planet of the star Malev...."  and it is there
that Magnus awakens with an Excedrin headache and a still-gloating Xyrkol
standing over him.  "At last you are completely in my power, and I shall have my
revenge!"  And Xyrkol isn't acting on his own, for "you are within Malev-6...the
robot world!  An electronic brain that fills and uses the power of an ENTIRE
PLANET!  A brain capable of controlling THE UNIVERSE!"  Xyrkol introduces Magnus
to the sensors of his ally Malev-6 and boasts that the robot plague he
introduced is continuing to destroy Earth's robots.  "Earthman are helpless
weaklings without their robots!  There will be NO resistance when YOUR robots take
over the planet!"  As Malev orders Magnus taken to the "examination room", the
Robot Fighter suddenly revives and seizes Xyrkol by the throat.  "Malev-6!   THE
COLLAR!"   And a metal collar that has been placed around Magnus' neck
constricts, choking him.  Having demonstrated Magnus's helplessness-- "Puny-being! 
There-is-nothing-you-can-do-against-me!  This-planet-and-I-are-ONE!"-- Malev-6
explains its origin.  Some 1500 galactic years ago, a robot repair ship
crashed on the planet, wrecking its space drive.  Hard radiation from the star
Malev erased the original repair craft programming and gave the robot ship
independent will "capable-of-controlling-myself-and-OTHERS".  Malev-6 created
subsidiary robots and mined the planet to expand itself. 
"Now-I-am-too-big-for-this-world- and-am-expanding-until-I-fill-the-UNIVERSE!"  Xyrkol happened across
Malev-6 and they made a deal for the warlord to help Malev-6 in return for the
robot planet's aid in conquering Earth. 

After Xyrkol boasts of how, as part of his share in the plot, he created the
liquid robot plague that is now attacking Earth, , Malev herds Magnus to the
"examination room" where it intends to discover
"how-you-a-puny-human-can-equal-robots-in-strength-and-how-you-can-even-DESTROY-robots!"  For the first test,
Malev sends a powerful battle-rob, and Magnus demonstrates his favorite move
of knocking off the robot's head with a super-karate chop and a "SQUEEEEE!"  .
But observing how Magnus struck at the robot's weakest spot, Malev sends a
headless robot, guided directly by Malev, with no neck to chop-- and with a
deadly flamethrower in its tentacle.  "THIS-robot-tests-your-will-to-live,
Robot-Fighter!"  Only Magnus's "ceramic-durium tunic" saves him from the
flamethrower, but his arms, legs and head are vulnerable, as Xyrkol is eager to point
out.  Magnus' only chence is to find Malev's "eyes" in the room, and he succeeds
in locating the optical unit in the wall that Malev is using to guide the
robot.  Suddenly leaping at the robot and seizing the flame-throwing tentacle,
Magnus directs it at the optical unit and destroys it.  Then, as Malev starts to
use the constricting collar to choke Magnus, our hero directs the flame-gun at
the collar itself and burns through it.  Seizing Malev's robot, Magnus hurls
it at Xyrkol, knocking him out.

Next, Magnus goes for the vat of liquid robot plague, hoping to use it to
destroy Malev itself, even at the sacrifice of his own life.  "It may cause the
destruction of the entire planet... and of me...but this terrrible evil
threatens ALL of mankind!  I MUST destroy it...for Leeja....But even as Magnus
smashes the plague bottle against Malev-6's control surfaces, the robot planet
upon every resource of his will to counter the malignant force of Malev-6's
attack...but he is one man against the energy of a PLANET!" And it seems that he
is no match for the massed will of a planet, "DIE, ROBOT-FIGHTER!" 

But back on Earth, the One Thousand people who once provided mental energy
for H-8 have been gathered together to pool their power for a better purpose,
and by linking hands they are able to pass that power on to Leeja Clane, who
senses that Magnus is in "terrible danger".  Only her love, backed by the power
of the One Thousand, can reach out and search the entire universe, if need be,
to find Magnus.  And in a series of striking panels by the great Russ Manning,
Leeja's mental image, followed by those of the 1000, rises up from Earth past
the planets and out to the stars, sending out a mental call for Magnus. 
"Across undiscovered worlds, her quest sweeps, and telepathic ctreatures feel her
touch their minds....outward past the edge of the galaxy...and inward past the
close-packed stars at its center, flashes her love...."  And at last Leeja
makes contact Magnus, just as he is about to fall to the massed power of
Malev-6.  To Leeja's love and encouragement is added M'Ree's instruction:
"Magnus...HEED US!  Only YOU can direct our power to destroy that which threatens you! 
Use us....USE US... NOW!"  And so, "fierce pride and hope surge renewed through
Magnus," as he sends the mind-force of Leeja and the 1000 "blazing against
the awful power of the robot planet".  Reaching the "nerve-center" of Malev-6,
Magnus short-circuits it, rendering the robot-world's mind unconscious and
helpless against the robot plague that Magnus earlier unleashed.  But the effort
has exhausted the One Thousand, and they and Leeja can no longer maintain
contact with Magnus; he is on his own to escape Malev-6 before it collapses.  Or
perhaps not quite, for Xyrkol is still there, and Magnus seizes the belt
containing hjis sub-space travel device.  A panicky Xyrkol reveals that the sub-space
warp device is within Malev-6, and if Magnus and Xyrkol do not escape before
Malev is destroyed by the plague, both will die along with Xyrkol's former
ally.  But Magnus insists, "We'll use it TOGETHER... when you have satisfied me
that it will take us only to EARTH....and that we are taking the remedy that
will stop your plague on Earth!"  The frightened villain agrees, and the two
escape to Earth just as "the plague "sends the malevalent warped Malev-6 crashing
into disjointed junk...."  (But Malev-6 got better and menaced Magnus again
in later stories.)  Back on Earth with Xyrkol in custody and the plague cure
administered, Leeja thanks his saviors; "As long as I...and the rest of mankind
still have loyal people like you One Thousand...and LEEJA, to relyon, we need
never fear conquest by man or machine!"

As I mentioned, this story is the last of seven issues of MAGNUS reprinted in
the Dark Horse-published MAGNUS archive I saw in my comics shop today.  While
I'm not really in the market for it myself-- I have the original issues or
other reprints, and I have too many other Archive-type books to catch up on if I
ever get the cash together-- I'm delighted to see these classic Russ Manning
stories back in print, and this review is in honor of the event.