May 4, 2010

[Comics] Books of Magic

Books of MagicThe DC Comics universe has always been rich with magical characters and entities. Magic has always been their answer to extraterrestrials or superpowers in general as best exemplified by Superman's vulnerability to magic in general. I've always appreciated this nuance to the DC universe since it adds a nice flavor to things that somehow bridges older fairy tales with the modern world.

The Vertigo line of comic books under DC have further explored the worlds of magic and fantasy with their own unique stories. The more adult comic book world of Vertigo has always been a natural draw for tales of the occult, of demons and other things of dark magic. So it made all the more sense when DC would try to integrate some of its "mainstream" characters from the primary DC books into the somewhat alternate world of Vertigo.

This was definitely one of the more interesting convergences and I'm glad I finally got to read this collection.

Timothy HunterImage via Wikipedia

Books of Magic is a 4-issue mini-series written by Neil Gaiman with artwork from 4 different artists. It is centered around a young boy named Timothy Hunter, who is destined to be one of the greatest magic wielders of his generation. In order to help him choose whether or not to embrace a live of magic, the "Trenchcoat Brigade," consisting of the Phantom Stranger, John Constantine, Doctor Occult and Mister E, decide to orient him in the ways of magic in order to allow him to make a more informed choice. The boy's future is unclear in terms of whether or not he will join the forces of good or evil - all that is certain is that he will be one of the world's most powerful magicians.

So each issue involves one member of the Trenchcoat Brigade taking Tim to a different aspect of the magical world hidden beneath our mundane one. This involves visiting the past to meet previous magic users, exploring the magical underbelly of the present, vising other worlds like that of Arcadia, land of faerie and of course there is the journey to the future and what might be.

The decision to go with different artists and art styles in each issue certainly helped give the whole series a unique flavor to it. Not only was each world to be explored very different from the others in terms of concept, they were made visually distinct and somehow reflective of the mentor leading that particular tour of the worlds.

This is not just some Harry Potter style story, but instead is a deep exploration of the different concepts around magic and what it means to the world. For some, magic is a blessing, a powerful too to be used to shape the world as needed. For others, it is a curse that takes away all opportunities for freedom, trapping the magic user in his or her destiny. There was clearly an attempt to show all possible sides of this particular power and what may very well mean to truly have control over magic in our world.

Of course this tour of sorts also involves encounters with a lot of the more popular members of DC's magical circles including run-ins with the likes of Deadman, Dr. Fate and the fabulous Zatanna, to name a few. Also, there are even encounters with the Endless, also creations of Gaiman for Vertigo, which on the whole to very well in terms of showing the range of magic in this comic book universe. Plus, it also manages to roughly tie all these comic book characters together by some bond of brotherhood or shared abilities which is this magical world.

The Books of Magic are an amazing exploration of DC's magical universe and at the same time nice story about a boy coming to terms with his fate. This series gets 5 strangers possessed by Deadman out of a possible 5.



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1 comment:

ShatterShards said...

I never got to read the comics, but I read some of the series' novelization some five years ago. The story is quite good and any similarity with the other boy wizard is superficial.

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