Books of Magic #1 blew me away with its approach, magical mysteries, and strong main character. This is part of the Neil Gaiman-curated series from DC Vertigo, progressing the stories he started back in the ’90s. In this second issue, the boy destined to be a great magician learns the hard way magic comes with its consequences.
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
Tim embraces his access to magic, trying to do as much as he can as quickly as his power will let him. Overwhelmed by enthusiasm and impatience, he ignores Dr. Rose’s warnings and fails to consider the consequences of his actions. And they could be dire.
Why does this matter?
This is part of a larger story coming from DC Vertigo that is actively bringing magic, Sandman, and other Neil Gaiman creations back into focus. If the weird and supernatural interest you, this is right up your alley.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
This is a good issue that moves at a super fast clip. It opens where we left off a mysterious hooded person lurks outside Tim’s house. He’s in great danger, can’t seem to progress his magic studies and maybe in big trouble. The plot moves very fast from here however and by the end, Tim is not only learning things the hard way but possibly giving up entirely on the one thing he couldn’t seem to crack. There’s a lesson in there about teenagers growing up and learning truths quickly as well as new details revealed about magic in general.
There’s an intriguing storytelling mechanism that adds a nice layer of mystery and magic to the story. It’s a scroll caption that reoccurs throughout the issue and is, presumably, the words Tim reads in the magic book that he couldn’t get to work in the last issue. For a book called Books of Magic, it’s nice to see it never loses sight of feeling magical.
The art by Tom Fowler, with colors by Jordan Boyd, continue to convey Tim’s confusion, doubt, and frustrations very well. This is a teen-focused narrative which makes his emotions and constant struggle an important element to get right. The magic that takes place looks the part as it’s impossible, unwieldy, and exciting when it needs to be.
It can’t be perfect can it?
This issue is too fast for its own good. It’s very visual which is part of the reason it reads so quickly, but not a lot happens. Tim’s attacker strikes, Tim acts ornery at school, and then he has a wild night. There isn’t much revealed and instead it’s mostly just things happening to him. It’s certainly enjoyable, but it’ll serve better in a chapter when this is collected since it’ll have meatier more complex scenes around it.
Is it good?
I liked this issue, but it moves so quickly I couldn’t love it. There’s a lot of action in this one, but not many reveals. It’s nice to see how things move along, but there isn’t a lot of meat on its bones.