Review: Magic #1- Planeswalk With Me
Ok, I love to play Magic: The Gathering. Between the competitiveness and general strategy at play, the game is one of my favorite hobbies. That said, I do find the lore interesting, and I had to check out the latest Magic Comic book. Now, Magic has made comics since its earliest days. This isn’t new. That said this one looks interesting to me as it doesn’t focus itself on one character but instead promises to look at the larger cast a whole. Additionally, it doesn’t seem to be tied to any particular card game set, which is nice. It allows for the comic to travel at its own pace.
I am likely attracting those familiar with Magic to this review, but let’s say you, dear reader, are an outsider to this universe. Allow me to get you up to speed. In Magic: The Gathering, there exists a multiverse with an infinite number of worlds called Planes. Each Plane consists of their own unique life etc. Very few things can travel between these planes, but one group of lifeforms that can do so are called Planeswalkers. These are powerful users of magic spells that can travel between worlds. They are extremely durable and tend to be the main characters of Magic stories, post-2007. Planeswalkers also tend to muck things up for everyone else. They can be good, bad, or just annoying.
In this comic we follow a group of Planeswalkers found on the plane of Ravnica. Ravnica is a city world and is considered the most popular plane in the game amongst fans. It is near the center of the multiverse and a lot tends to happen here as many Planeswalkers reside there. That brings us today’s issue:
Writer- Jed MacKay
Illustrator- Ig Guara
Colorist- Arianna Consonni (Arancia Studios)
Letterer- Ed Dukeshire
Publisher- Boom! Studios
Three Planeswalker and Guildmasters (leader of the major political organizations on Ravnica) Ral, Kaya, and Vraska are simultaneously attacked by hordes of assassins at various places throughout Ravnica. The trio hold their own and question the lone survivor to seek out who has put a target on their heads. The trio’s mission promises to take them on an arduous adventure as they travel away from Ravnica, by the end of the issue.
I am surprised that they took this long to do that since the most recent major arc—The Nicol Bolas arc— was rife for comic books with a Justice League style team of characters to take on the even elder dragon Nicol Bolas. That said tying a comic book released to a card game that releases 4 main sets a year is a challenge.
The decision to separate the comic from the ongoing set stories is a wise one and allows for MacKay to get a chance to build up a cast. MacKay takes on the challenge of introducing the world of Magic head-on early in the book with a nice bit of narration that explains how the multiverse works. This is an effective tool compared to a one-page prose info dump that many would use. While effective it is still a bit expository to kick-off the issue and makes it a challenge to get into the issue. Once in though, the writing is pleasant.
MacKay manages to find distinct voices for each of the Planeswalkers. I cannot say how true to established books their characterization is as I haven’t read a Magic novel since 2008. Still, it provides a variety of tone from Ral’s smart attitude to Kaya’s assertive confidence. There are some subtle nods to the continuity that I did manage to catch such as Vraska’s reaction to another planewalker, Jace. I do know they had a relationship in the stories and there are subtle call backs to this in the art.
Guara’s art is a main draw for me to this comic. It is highly kinetic and free flowing in its energy. Guara employees an animated style reminiscent to Joe Madureira’s cartoony, manga-infused style. It is visually stimulating and wild to follow. The body language of the characters pair well MacKay’s script. The visuals help put the characterization over for the reader.
Honestly, the framing of some panels does make the action difficult to follow. Often because the panel is too tight on the action. If it was zoomed out a bit more, it would make it easier to “read”. The claustrophobic approach does give the various figures a larger feel but if it effects the visual language, it does bring to question its overall effectiveness. The colors by Consonni complements Guara’s pencils. It is just pretty and bright. It has a liquid ink style and utilizes various lighting techniques to help set the tone of the series.
Magic #1 is a decent action-adventure comic that manages to introduce the reader to a complex world. Magic #1 captures the spirit of the card game and the world. Jeb MacKay and Ig Guara do a wonderful job selling this to the reader. It isn’t perfect but it does pretty well, and it was enjoyable. Check it out if you are fan of the card game and the story behind the cards.
Final Score: 8.0/10