The original full title was Magnus Robot Fighter: 4000 A.D. In the far future, man has grown lazy and decadent, and is dependent on a huge labor force of robots for his wants and needs. The robots are programmed never to harm humans, but an increasing number of rogues are showing signs of rebellion. One robot, named 1A, still loyal to humanity but sufficiently "rogue" to be able to think outside the box, sees that a Robot War is coming and wants to prevent it. He adopts an orphaned child named Magnus and raises him in a secret undersea base, where he educates him and trains him to be the greatest martial artist the world has ever seengood enough to defeat a standard metal robot with his bare hands, without resorting to any technology at all. 1A then sends Magnus out into the world—specifically, to the continent-spanning city of NorthAm—to both prevent a robot overthrow of humanity, and to encourage humans to stand on their own two feet again without depending on machines for everything.
A third side in the conflict is the "gophs," the humans who live in the squalid slums beneath the "milespires" where the upper classes of humanity live. The human/robot conflict is literally over their heads for the most part, but they will obviously suffer along with everyone else if a Robot War comes.
The 90's Valiant series picks up where the original series left off, initially making a great effort to be faithful to the old setting, characters, and art style. The two main differences are a much greater focus on the class conflict between the gophs and the "cloud cloddies" who live on the milespires; and Magnus's grudging realization that the robots who are chafing under slavery have a perfectly legitimate point. So Magnus now has to try and balance the situation to prevent both a race war between man and robot, and also a class war between the upper classes and the gophs.
We also get to see some of the world beyond NorthAm, most notably Japan, home to the hero Rai who then gets his own spin-off comic. Magnus's world is also fully incorporated in the the Valiant universe, crossing over with its other titles either by time travel or by the presence of long-lived characters like Gilad the Eternal Warrior.
So it goes for a while, and then aliens invade. Specifically, alien robots called the Malevs who had appeared in the Silver Age series, but had been a minor plot element there. Here, they arrive, co-opt most of the existing robot population, and conquer the Earth. All of the original plot arcs are overwhelmed by the fight against the alien invaders. While the Malev War certainly has strong fans among the Valiant Comics fanbase, it can also be argued that it drastically derailed the basic premise of the comic. Here we get a Robot War, but ironically, it's one that has little to do with the original human/robot conflict. The war does end, eventually; but not well for Earth's robots.
There was a short-lived reboot series by Louise Simonson when Valiant changed over to Acclaim Comics. Over a decade later, there was another short-lived reboot series from Dark Horse Comics, written by Jim Shooter again, which went for a more modern, cyberpunk aesthetic than the previous Raygun Gothic look. This was followed by a reboot from Dynamite Comics, and then by another reboot from Dynamite focusing on a female Magnus who works as a diplomat/robopsychologist and deals with AI's mainly in cyberspace. Meanwhile, Magnus's spin-off character Rai received a reboot in the revived Valiant Comics in 2012, omitting all references to Magnus himself for licensing reasons.
- Action Girl: Leeja in the Valiant version. Also Tekla.
- Alien Invasion: The Malevs.
- Art-Style Dissonance: Invoked in the Valiant series. Most elements of Earth's civilization have the same Raygun Gothic look as the original Gold Key version, but the invading Malev robots look like something designed by H. R. Giger.
- Badass Normal: Magnus, originallybut during Valiant's company-wide crossover "Unity," this was retconned so Magnus's dad had superhuman strength which Magnus inherited.
- Boisterous Bruiser: Slagger, a big tough Goph whom Magnus befriends.
- Boomerang Bigot: 1A, one of the first freewill robots, cannot accept the idea of other freewills being anything but a dire threat to humanity and insists that they must all be destroyed or "repaired."
- Cain and Abel: Rai's two sons.
- Continuity Reboot: Every revival except the one from Valiant.
- Crapsack World: The Valiant version certainly had elements of this, but the Dark Horse version seems, well, darker.
- Crossover: Regularly, with the other Valiant characters. More notably, it crossed over once with Nexus by Mike Baron and Steve Rude, and with Dark Horse's Predator comics.
- Crystal Spires and Togas: Milespire culture.
- Depending on the Writer: It's probably safe to say that if Jim Shooter had stayed on the title, Magnus's attitude toward robot rights would not have undergone the ugly shift it did by the end of the Malev War.
- Evil Luddite: Derkaiser. Magnus himself might count as well when he takes the decision to destroy every single robot.
- Exactly What It Says on the Tin: Magnus Robot Fighter: 4000 A.D. is about a guy named Magnus who fights robots in the year 4000 A.D.
- Fantastic Fighting Style
- Fantastic Racism
- Fem Bot: Tekla (no relation). Also Grandmother's physical form (later co-opted by the Malev Emperor).
- The Future
- Humongous Mecha: Xyrkol's Robot Giant in the 60's. In the 90's there's Grandmother, and then the Malev Emperor.
- Just a Machine: The Dark Horse Comics version makes a clear distinction between sentient and nonsentient robots. Magnus says he'll destroy a nonsentient robot that gets in his way without a second thought, but that he's just as reluctant to kill a sentient robot as he would be to kill a human being. Not that he's above killing if there's a good enough reason, mind you.
- Legacy Character: Magnus and Rai both have sons who take center stage after the Malev War ends. Rai comes from a long line of Japanese heroes who have taken the title "Rai."
- Love Triangle: The Dark Horse version has given Leeja a strong rival for Magnus's affections.
- Magnus, Leeja, and Tekla in the Valiant version.
- Ludd Was Right
- Mechanical Life Forms: This is certainly how the robots want to be viewed, at least those who care what humans think at all.
- Moral Dissonance: Magnus's eventual decision (after a new creative team had taken over the book) to destroy all robots, after the horrors of the Malev War have eroded all his sympathy on the matter. The resultant society is actually pretty good, for humans at least, but it's cringe-inducing for fans who remember the sympathetic robot characters (Before her death in the war, Magnus had had Unstable Romantic Tension with Tekla, for pity's sake!). One could argue that it's not necessarily implausible behavior for Magnus by that point, the war having taken a ghastly toll on him, but the creepy thing is that none of the other human characters call him out on it. Scratch that, no — the truly creepy thing is that the authors don't call him out on it. Needless to say, Jim Shooter was long gone and the book was under different management by this point. Perhaps they were aiming for irony, but if so, it's so understated that you really can't tell.
- Nanomachines: The source of Rai's powers. He inherited them from the 20th century Valiant hero Bloodshot.
- Nice Hat: The robot mayor of Synchron wears a silly-looking top hat, thinking it makes him look sophisticated.
- Official Couple: Magnus and Leeja
- Oh, Crap!: Magnus and 1-A get one of these in Valiant's Magnus #1: after (in the original run) a year or two of fighting the occasional accidental rogue robot, fairly easily mopped up, they hear the following message over the robot communications frequency:Do not be afraid. You are not alone. There are ten million of us.
- Phlebotinum Rebel
- Porn Stache: Xyrkol has a huge mustache.
- Raised by Robots
- Really 700 Years Old: Gilad the Eternal Warrior.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: Leeja's dad Senator Clane in the Gold Key Comics. He becomes more ambiguous in the 90's version for being narrow-minded, but he's still a mostly sympathetic character.
- Robotic Spouse: Grandmother, the benevolent Master Computer of Japan, is 1A's girlfriend.
- Robot Me: Magnus fights one in the 1960's series.
- Robot Names
- Robot Republic: The sadly short-lived city of Synchron.
- Shout-Out: Magnus was designed to resemble Tarzan in many ways, to play up the primitive vs. technology angle.
- Space Clothes
- Transhuman Aliens: The Starwatchers.
- Upper-Class Twit: A lot of the cloud cloddies.
- Valiant Comics
- Wrong Side of the Tracks: The Goph Levels.
- Zeerust: In a good way. Everything at the start of the Valiant series has the same art design as the 60's version, from the robots to the buildings to the costumes. It meshes very nicely with the Raygun Gothic visual look of Nexus's world in the crossover comic. The new Dark Horse reboot averts this.