Uneven and inessential, unless you're a Magneto lover
A trade paperback that collects the entire Magneto War story arc, including the X-Men: Magneto War one-shot, X-Men #85-87, and Uncanny X-Men #366-367. Also reprints Magneto Rex, a three-issue limited series follow-up to Magneto War.
By 1999 Magneto had been in mothballs for six years – since late in 1993, when Professor Xavier wiped his memory in the confrontation that left Wolverine sans his adamantium skeleton.
In comics, six years is a long time – long enough that half a generation of new readers weren't acquainted with the X-Men's most legendary nemesis. Meanwhile, the X-writers had introduced Joseph, either a de-aged Magneto or a clone of the same.
Magneto: Rogue Nation collects the two storylines that resolved that pair of issues – reintroducing Magneto to readers, and resolving Joseph's arc. By necessity, the trade paperback covers a lot of ground already tread in prior Magneto stories. However, as a whole the collection does manage to add some new facets to this classic foe.
Story & Script
The pencils in this volume are mostly the work of three hands – Alan Davis on X-Men, Leinil Yu on Uncanny, and Brandon Peterson on Magneto Rex (Lee Weeks chips in serviceable art for the one-shot).
Alan Davis makes nearly every page worthwhile – he has a strong sense of these characters, and with few exceptions (Marrow, sometimes Rogue) he draws beautiful versions of them. His Magneto is devilishly handsome and full of power.
Yu is generally strong, and delivers some beautiful spreads and definitive illustrations (particularly Wolverine). However, sometimes his inkers seem to be getting in the way of his art, lining his detail work too heavily.
Brandon Peterson, who has been worth seeing on Uncanny in the past, bombs on Magneto Rex. His Magneto is obscenely over-muscled, his characters are consistently awkward, and it takes him two issues to draw any two women differently from each other.
Is this collection essential? No and yes.
If you already have a sense of who Magneto is, this book is going to seem very repetitive to you, and Davis's pencils alone aren't going to save it. No major introductions or deaths, and you can sum up the entire thing as “Magneto holds the world hostage and receives Genosha as ransom.”
However, this volume sets up the building blocks of all of Magneto's stories through House of M, including The Twelve, Eve of Destruction, the entire Grant Morrison run of New X-Men, and the subsequent Excalibur (vol. 2).
As of August 2010 Magneto: Rogue Nation is out of print, and you aren't likely to find it for less than twenty dollars. For that price, this is essential only for TPB completists (like me) and major Magneto fans.
Otherwise, I think you should take a pass – at least until it's reprinted.