Publisher: DC Vertigo
Writer: Kat Howard
Artwork: Tom Fowler
Colours: Jordan Boyd
Release Date: 27th March 2019
The creative team behind The Books of Magic does it again with this week’s issue, continuing the tale of magic, hormones and the lost innocence of a bespectacled youth (but not the one you’re thinking of).
Upon returning from his in The Dreaming, Tim learns of the disappearance of his best friend Ellie and the death of one of his teachers. It seems the bodies are piling up all around Mr Hunter, although he can’t say why. All he wants is to find his friend and his long-lost mother. His mentor Dr Rose at least half agrees with him; they do need to find his mother, but only to get to the bottom of this whole sordid affair and stop the real culprits behind everything. Namely, The Cold Flame.
The first issue of this new arc features another great example of character development. Tim has acclimatised to his new abilities, and while at first he was the clueless student excitingly reading these magical ‘how to’ guides, he’s now gradually becoming able to control his power and is starting to use it to his advantage. He stands up to his bullies, he stands up to his teacher and he even stands up to his own father, something we’d never have expected to see all the way back in issue 1.
It’s good to be reminded that the characters in this magical myth are still unmistakably human, and that is what makes them so enjoyable to read. We’re all familiar with the tropes – the stereotypical bully, the lonely nerd, the mysterious magical teacher – but putting them in a modern-day setting gives it a freshness and greater relatability, to the point that we become deeply invested in seeing these characters grow. Even Dr Rose, while still sticking to the task at hand, seems to genuinely care about her protégé.
The artwork continues to promote this welcoming feeling you get while reading the story, balancing on a knife’s edge between poignant heartfelt issues like this and the grotesque, blood-dripping panels that could emerge at any moment. It has the gentle, tender aesthetic of a Saturday morning cartoon show, delivering a relaxed aesthetic that goes hand-in-hand with the spirit of magical adventure.
It was also cool to hear The Cold Flame mentioned, not just for the answers their involvement provides, but to further bridge the gap between the DC and Vertigo universe in a subtle, but very clear, way (i.e. The Cold Flame not only taking on Constantine in his New 52 launch, but also currently being mentioned in the pages of Justice League Dark), while still allowing the reader focus on the story at hand.
The gloves are definitely off now, and both Tim and Dr Rose are fixing to bring the fight right to the enemy as this latest arc unfolds.
The writer of this piece was: Indiana “Indy” Marlow
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