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Magnus Robot Fighter 4000 A.D.
by Russ Manning
A science fiction classic from the Silver Age of comic books


Robot Fighter began with a request by Western Publishing editor Chase Craig to artist Russ Manning for a new science fiction comic book for Western's new Gold Key imprint.

R. J. Bryant tells about the origins of Gold Key Comics. You can read more about Gold Key in this issue of Comic Book Artist magazine. Here is a review of the Gold Key series.

Bill Hillman descibes Manning's life and work, with an emphasis on his Tarzan stories, in this tribute. Chicago's Atlas Comics store lists Manning among the top 100.

Don Markstein gives a brief background and history of Robot Fighter at his Toonpedia. Here is a short biography of Magnus, in both the Gold Key and Valiant series, from An International Catalogue of Superheroes. You can view most of the covers of the Gold Key issues at Kit's. Mitchell Brown calls the first issue of Robot Fighter one of the 100 greatest single issues in the history of comic books.

Russ Manning worked as a comic book and comic strip artist for many decades. Here is his entry at Wikipedia. Yahoo hosts a Russ Manning Fanlist. Comic book artists call their award for the most promising newcomer The Manning Award

Dark Horse Comics is publishing a hard cover collection of Manning's Robot Fighter stories from issues 1 through 7. The book is scheduled to be available in November of 2004 and drew these comments.

Here is a basic checklist for the Gold Key issues, including reprints by Gold Key and Whitman and by Valiant.

[Volume 0]
Gold Key, Robot Fighter (Magnus, Robot Fighter, 4000 A.D. on cover)
Issue number (Cover date month and year)
/order in issue "Story Title" (pages) [later reprint of this story]
1 (February 1963)
/1 untitled (27 pages) [reprinted in 22 and Vintage 1]
2 (May 1963)
/1 "Operation Disguise" (27 pages) [reprinted in 32 and Original 1]
3 (August 1963)
/1 "Giant from Planet X" (27 pages) [reprinted in Vintage 2]
4 (November 1963)
/1 "Menace from the Depths" (27 pages)
5 (February 1964)
/1 "The Immortal One" (27 pages)
6 (May 1964)
/1 "Battle of the Abyss" (27 pages) [reprinted in 35]
7 (August 1964) [reprinted in 29]
/1 "The Power of the One Thousand" (27 pages)
8 (November 1964)
/1 "Havoc At Weather Control" (27 pages) [reprinted in 36]
9 (February 1965)
/1 "Robot Ghost" (24 pages)
10 (May 1965)
/1 "The Mysterious Octo-Rob" (24 pages)
11 (August 1965)
/1 "Beasts of Steel" (24 pages) [reprinted in 37]
12 (November 1965)
/1 "The Volcano Makers" (24 pages) [reprinted in 38]
13 (February 1966)
/1 "The Evil Ark of Dr. Noel" (24 pages) [reprinted in 34 and Vintage 3]
14 (May 1966) [reprinted in 31]
/1 "The Monster Robs" (24 pages)
15 (August 1966) [reprinted in 30]
/1 "The Weird World of Mogul Badur" (24 pages)
16 (November 1966)
/1 "Cloud Cloddie, Go Home" (24 pages) [reprinted in 39 and Vintage 4]
17 (February 1967)
/1 "The Deadly Peril from Sirius" (24 pages) [reprinted in 40]
18 (May 1967)
/1 "Magnus vs. North Am" (21 pages) [reprinted in 41]
19 (August 1967)
/1 "Fear Unlimited" (21 pages) [reprinted in 42]
20 (November 1967)
/1 "Bunda The Great" (21 pages) [reprinted in 43]
21 (February 1968)
/1 "Space Spectre" (21 pages) [reprinted in 33]

22 (May 1968)
/1 untitled (27 pages) [reprints 1]

Dan Spiegle drew issue 23
23 (August 1968)
/1 "Mission: Disaster" (22 pages) [reprinted in 44]

Paul Norris drew issues 24 through 28
24 (November 1968)
/1 "Pied Piper Of North Am" (21 pages) [reprinted in 45]
25 (February 1969)
/1 "The Micro-Giants" (21 pages) [reprinted in 46]
26, (May 1969)
/1 "The Venomous Vapor" (14 pages)
/2 "Journey To The End Of The World" (7 pages) [reprinted in Lost In Space 58]
27 (August 1969)
/1 "Panic In Pacifica" (14 pages)
/2 "Web Of Fire" (7 pages)
28 (November 1969)
/1 "Threat From The Depths" (14 pages)
/2 "A Secret Kept" (7 pages)

Issues 29 through 46 are reprints, under both the Gold Key and Whitman imprint starting with issue 36
29 (November 1971)
/1 "The Power of the One Thousand" [reprints 7]
30 (February 1972)
/1 "The Weird World of Mogul Badur" [reprints 15]
31 (April 1972)
/1 "The Monster Robs" [reprints 14]
32 (July 1972)
/1 "Operation Disguise" [reprints 2]
33 (October 1972)
/1 "Space Spectre" [reprints 21]
34, (January 1973)
/1 "The Evil Ark of Dr. Noel" [reprints 13]
35 (May 1974)
/1 "Battle of the Abyss" [reprints 6]
36 (August 1974)
/1 "Havoc At Weather Control" [reprints 8]
37 (November 1974)
/1 "Beasts of Steel" [reprints 11]
38 (February 1975)
/1 "The Volcano Makers" [reprints 12]
39 (May 1975)
/1 "Cloud Cloddie, Go Home" [reprints 16]
40 (August 1975)
/1 "The Deadly Peril from Sirius" [reprints 17]
41 (November 1975)
/1 "Magnus vs. North Am" [reprints 18]
42 (January 1976)
/1 "Fear Unlimited" [reprints 19]
43 (May 1976)
/1 "Bunda The Great" [reprints 20]
44 (August 1976)
/1 "Mission: Disaster" [reprints 23]
45 (October 1976)
/1 "Pied Piper Of North Am" [reprints 24]
46 (January 1977)
/1 "The Micro-Giants" [reprints 25]

Lost in Space 58 (October 1978)
"Journey To The End Of The World" (7 pages) [reprints 26/2]

Doctor Solar
29 (October 1981)
"The Steel-smashing Return of Magnus robot fighter 4000 A.D."
30 (February 1982)
"Where Angels Fear..."
31 (March 1982)
"Deathtrap" concluding panel has box saying "Coming soon! Look for Magnus in his own book"

Robot Fighter unpublished
47 (June 1982)
/1 "Requiem For a Robot Fighter" (part 1; 7 pages)
/2 "If Death Be My Destiny" (part 2; 4 pages)
/3 "Something Lurks In Morgue Seven" (part 3; 9 pages)
/4 "The Strange Deaths of a Hero" (part 4; 12 pages)
48 (1982)
/1 "Power Play" (chapter 1; 6 pages)
/2 "Slaughter In North-Am" (chapter 2; 5 pages)
/3 "Relic" (chapter 3)

There were foreign editions, including Mexico (in Spanish), Australia, and the United Kingdom.

TV Tornado (UK)
7 (Feb 25, 1967)
"The Evil Doctor Noel" [based on Gold Key 13?]
8 (March 4, 1967)
"Robot Menace" [based on Gold Key 6]
9 (March 11, 1967)
"Operation Rescue!" [based on Gold Key 12]
10 (March 18, 1967)
"Asteroid Urasis"
11 (March 25, 1967)
"Who is Magnus?" Part 1 of serial reprint of Gold Key 1
12 (April 1, 1967)
"Spark of Revolt" Part 2
13 (April 8, 1967)
"Meeting with Leeja" Part 3
14 (April 15, 1967)
Part 4
15 (April 22, 1967)
"The Exterminator" Part 5
16 (April 29, 1967)
"Defeat for the Robots" Part 6
17 (May 6, 1967)
"Expedition to Gamma 7"
18 (May 13, 1967)
"Operation Disguise: The Identical Magnus" Part 1 of 7 part serial reprint of Gold Key 2
19 (May 20, 1967)
"Operation Disguise: " Part 2
20 (May 27, 1967)
"Operation Disguise: " Part 3
21 (June 3, 1967)
"Operation Disguise: " Part 4
22 (June 10, 1967)
"Operation Disguise: Deadly Combat" Part 5
23 (June 17, 1967)
"Operation Disguise: Senator Clane's Peril" Part 6
24 (June 24, 1967)
"Operation Disguise: Magnus v. Magnus" Part 7
25 (July 1, 1967)
"Menace from the Depths: The Think Rob" Part 1 of serialization of Gold Key 4
26 (July 8, 1967)
"Menace from the Depths: World in Jeopardy" Part 2
27 (July 15, 1967)
"Menace from the Depths: " Part 3
28 (July 22, 1967)
"Menace from the Depths: Time Bomb" Part 4
29 (July 29, 1967)
"Menace from the Depths: Leeja's Peril" Part 5
30 (August 5, 1967)
"Menace from the Depths: Tension" Part 6

TV Tornado Annual (UK)
1967
"Giant from Planet X"
1968
"Xyrkol"
1969
"Lodestone Tyrant"
1970
(Magnus on cover but no story)

Mighty Warriors Annual (UK)
1979
"The Micro Giants" [reprints Gold Key 25]

Valiant, Vintage Magnus Robot Fighter
1 (January 1992)
/1 untitled [reprints Gold Key 1]
2 (February 1992)
/1 "Giant from Planet X" [reprints Gold Key 3]
3 (March 1992)
/1 "The Evil Ark of Dr. Noel" [reprints Gold Key 13 (34)]
4 (April 1992)
/1 "Cloud Cloddie, Go Home" [reprints Gold Key 16 (39)]
The Original Magnus Robot Fighter
1 (April 1995) cover
/1 "Operation Disguise" [reprints Gold Key 2 (32)]

Volume 1
Valiant also published a new series of Magnus, Robot Fighter, issues 0 through 64 (May 1991 through Feb. 1996). Here is a brief description, a review of this second series, and a continuation.

To avoid confusion, here are the covers of Valiant's Vintage Magnus issues 1 through 4, and its new Magnus issues 1 through 4. The Magnus Robot Fighter index gives more detailed information about the stories in both the Gold Key and Valiant series, along with Magnus's appearances in other titles by both publishers, and about some unpublished stories.

There were also several crossovers and specials, Magnus Robot Fighter/Nexus (Valiant/Dark Horse), Predator versus Magnus (Valiant/Dark Horse), and Magnus Robot Fighter Yearbook.

Volume 2
Valiant was succeeded by Acclaim Comics, which published Magnus, Robot Fighter Volume 2, issues 1 (May 1997) through 18 (Oct. 1998). [I have seen a cover for unpublished issue 20.] There were crossovers in X-O Manowar 6 and Unity 2000 1-3. [Unity 2000 continues in a script by Jim Shooter.] There also were the multi-title Unity storyline and Chaos Effect storyline, described in the comprehensive list by Richard L. Anderson.

[Volume 3]
Simon and Schuster's iBooks imprint has announced plans to publish new Magnus Robot Fighter stories.


Revised December 5, 2005.

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