Set in Chicago in the 1930s, Machine Gun Wizards is a series that blends the often repeated prohibition backdrop with some ideas you may not see as often. Machine Gun Wizards reimagines the story of Eliot Ness and The Untouchables’ mission to bring down Al Capone, but with magic in place of alcohol. Although the real question is whether Capone controlling the magic, or is the magic controlling Capone?
While the first thing you might notice with Machine Gun Wizards is Christian Ward’s stunning cover art, in an unlikely twist he isn’t the main artist for the series. In fact Machine Gun Wizards is the first series to be written by Christian Ward, but there’s not a chance you’d notice that it’s his first series. Wearing its influences with pride, this is a series that embraces elements from well known real world events with enough of a supernatural swerve to keep you constantly guessing.
We follow Eliot Ness’ group the Untouchables through the streets of Chicago in pursuit of Al Capone and the speakeasies supplying the city with ‘Lick’ (a readily available source of short term magic). Their journey in Machine Gun Wizards is a rollercoaster ride of twists and turns as we learn more about how magic came to Chicago, the business Capone is running, and the Untouchables themselves.
Every issue is loaded with interesting characters that constantly bring new ideas to the world of Machine Gun Wizards, from Eliot Ness and the fictitious version of the Untouchables presented here to Al Capone and his horde of supernatural allies. Every character feels well designed and brings something new to the narrative, allowing for the series to feel like a long established and lived-in world from the outset. There are a lot of interesting ideas within this series, and a lot of different ideas on how magic can be used, with spells ranging from living protection spells, to shapeshifting, to just bulking up.
Although the narrative throughout the series is immediately engaging, Sami Kivelä’s art raises the series to another level. Perfectly suiting the gritty visage of 1930s Chicago and showing great variety between both the natural and supernatural characters within this story, his artwork is stunning. While Kivelä is the primary artist here, Christian Ward’s artistic fingerprints are noticeable, from his initial character designs and splitting coloring duties with Dee Cunnliffe to his otherworldly, sci-fi backups to the first four issues. As far as art teams go Kivelä, Ward and Cunnliffe do a wonderful job of bringing Machine Gun Wizards to life, and it would be great to see them have the opportunity to continue the series.