REVIEW BY MATT MORRISON
All New! All Expendable!
As part of the relaunch of DC Vertigo’s Sandman Universe, another one of Neil Gaiman’s memorable creations returns to comics with the long awaited “Books of Magic.” First published by DC Comics in 1990 as a mini-series, fan-favorite Tim Hunter began his long journey to becoming the world’s greatest magician, with the help of several mystical DC Comics alumni such as Phantom Stranger, Doctor Occult and John Constantine. The series was ongoing until it was discontinued after the short-lived “Books of Magick: Life During Wartime” in 2005. With this latest relaunch, the story catches us up (whether the reader be a longtime fan or a newcomer) in a fairy tale-like collage retelling of his origin:
“Once upon a time…there lived a boy named Timothy Hunter. He seemed like a very usual sort of boy. Except.”
Then we find Tim Hunter asleep in class, as a seemingly normal student who tries to impress girls with his amateur magic tricks. Getting bullied and of course getting into fights, he is pulled into one of his teacher’s office and we learn that Tim has “lost” his mother. But his teacher Dr. Rose is apparently has a connection to magic and knows that Tim is destined to become the greatest magician. As she gives him a book that appears blank to him at first she advises him to start reading and when he is ready, the magic will be visible to him. Despite his frustrations, Tim is certain he is ready, but as the book soon reveals its first lesson:
“Magic is neither good nor bad. Only its use determines its character. There are always consequences for its use.”
And upon opening his first book, we are given a glimpse of three mysterious cultist figures that are apparently watching him from afar as they decide that steps must be taken…and that some books must not be read.
Written by newcomer Kat Howard, known for her novel “Roses and Rot” and illustrated by Canadian artist Tom Fowlerm with colors by Jordan Boyd, the new “Books of Magic” has a promising start. While sharing the spotlight with other titles in the revived Sandman Universe, such as “The Dreaming” and “House of Whispers,” the new “Books of Magic” hopes to recapture the “magic” of a series that unfortunately fell into obscurity 13 years ago as it soon became marred by its similarities to the popular Harry Potter franchise in which tabloids claimed that Gaiman had made accusations of plagiarism against J.K. Rowling, which he went on the record denying. But hopefully time will tell if fans will return to this series as we see what the fates have in store for Tim Hunter.
Once they were the proteges of the World’s Finest heroes. Then they joined together as The Teen Titans. Even in the face of an unseen force that tried to erase them and their friendship from history, they remained Titans Together!
Recently, The Titans triumphed over a union of some of their greatest enemies. The demon called Mister Twister, the telepathic Psimon and the psycho-chemical empowered Key all joined under the banner of Troia – a future version of Donna Troy, who traveled back in time to eliminate The Titans so that her past self would not waste time in fulfilling her destiny to be a heartless defender of the universe by befriending people she was certain to outlive.
It was their greatest victory ever and it should have been a happy occasion. Unfortunately, the resulting battle got the attention of The Justice League. And they are concerned about The Titans, to put it mildly.
Wonder Woman is disturbed by the news that a future version of Donna Troy – who was originally an evil clone of her until Donna was given new memories by Amazon magic – could become a violent avenger in defiance of The Amazon Way. The Flash is disturbed that Wally West, the first Kid Flash, has developed some kind of heart-condition that limits his ability to run and that his connection to The Speed Force is becoming unstable. Batman is worried about how Nightwing could ever go into battle with an team that includes a recovering drug addict and an unstable psychic. And Superman is worried that the team may be biting off more than they can chew.
Naturally The Titans aren’t too thrilled about the implication that they’re somehow lacking in their efforts to fight crime. But what can they do if The Justice League decides The Titans need to be shut down permanently?
Titans #19 is a wonderful jumping-on issue for those readers who have yet to discover one of the best-kept secrets of the DC Comics Rebirth Initiative. Though this issue is largely concerned with recapping the most recent events of the series, Dan Abnett’s script is hardly heavy on exposition. The argument between The Titans and The Justice League is as gripping as any superheroic action sequence, though the end of the book does offer a climactic fight right before a stunning cliffhanger.
This issue’s artwork is equally fantastic. The layouts of Paul Pelletier are crisp and clear, with the perspective ever-shifting from angle to angle, keeping the point-of-view continually fresh despite most of the issue being concerned with people talking. The finishes of Andrew Hennessy offer the perfect amount of definition, enhancing Pelletier’s pencils without drowning the page in ink. And Adriano Lucas’s colors pop on the page.
The only real flaw to this issue is the problem that all comics based around a large ensemble suffer. Inevitably, someone has to get the short end of the stick when it comes to how much time the issue can spend on them. In this case, all the Titans who don’t have a mentor in the room arguing with them are largely stuck in the background. The one exception to this is the outspoken Arsenal, though the usually soft-spoken psychic Omen does get a sick burn off against Batman at one point.
Written by The Critic The Internet Deserves, but not the one it needs right now…. Matt Morrison. He’s a smart-ass guardian. A sarcastic protector. A Snark Knight.
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