BOOKS OF MAGIC #1 Review 10/10: magic means consequences, so read cautiously, for the Books of Magic in Timothy Hunter’s hands hold a mysterious and a heavy burden for the emerging teenage magician.
Realism, mystery and suspense emanate from the story.
Vertigo’s magnum opus premieres what may be the best standalone storyline of the new brilliant Sandman series in BOOKS OF MAGIC, written by Kat Howard, Illustrated by Tom Fowler, Colors by Jordan Boyd, Letters by Todd Klein, Cover by Kat Carpenter, and curated for The Sandman Universe by Neil Gaiman.
The following review of BOOKS OF MAGIC #1 may contain SPOILERS***.
A Preview image of BOOKS OF MAGIC #2…
Books of Magic equal consequences.
What could go wrong when Books of Magic hold the keys to Tim becoming the most powerful magician in the universe?
At the start, Tim steps into a fairy tale and magicians show him the ways of magic throughout the ages of the universe.
Fowler’s art styles change dramatically as parts of Tim’s journey are revealed in an ancient wall carving, a fairy land, and even a Picasso-esque glimpse into the “End”.
One look conveys a Big Bang-like quality, but abstract and possible end of the universe, while Tim Hunter is then brought to a choice of “safety” or “magic” as panels become a tumbling deck of cards that are his potential life.
He wakes from that choice in class talking, “Magic! I choose…”
Howard’s strong grasp of the characters’ personalities is evident in the sharp, pointed dialogue.
We can all remember back to interrupting a teacher, maybe after having fallen asleep, and their ability to bring the class to attention.
Dr. Rose shuts down a bully, at least while in her class, instantaneously with a look and a sentence.
Timothy Hunter’s destiny is there, should he choose to the find path of magic.
And just because Tim makes the initial choice of initiation does not mean that he is miraculously gifted with powers or the ability to do anything magical.
Tim Hunter’s first attempt at magic is a failure.
He tries to impress his crush Ellie with paper shreds he says will become a magical flower.
Instead the paper he tried to conjure with crumbles to the ground, unchanged, as the bully makes fun of Tim’s “problems with [his] wand.”
Tim Hunter is a teenager living in London, insecure (as we all are or were), whose Mom and teacher have disappeared.
The Sandman Universe 1 one-shot is riveting, visually visceral and stimulating, and features impactful storylines that merge for one hell of a tale.
Speaking of hell, Lucifer is in a bad state.
It seems he has a son, though impossible, and while the mysterious son seeks to destroy his father’s new sense of humanity, mortality, and mantra of hope, despite a potential wheel of fate forcing Lucifer to relive his pains over and over, Lucifer is off to find the mother of his child.
Lucifer’s bar is in shambles, as is his state of mind, his world, and his ravens (all but one at least).
And Dream’s raven (not Lucifer’s) has possibly the best line in the book when referring to Lucifer and his current predicament:
“It couldn’t happen to a nicer guy . . .”
The Sandman Universe 1 has many familiar faces, though Lucien is losing his memory and the Cain and Abel murders are helping to hold back the entire universe of Dreaming from cracking at the seems.
Daniel, Dream of the Endless, is gone.
And Lucien charges the all-knowing raven with finding him to help them save their increasingly brittle dreamscape.
The raven crosses dreams and stories in his search.
Another familiar face the raven flies over is Tim Hunter.
This sharp story sticks out immediately.
Tim’s life as a teenage magician living in the real world offers all kinds of complications.
Getting up late, showing up at school late, and finding your book blank when you go to read aloud in class is scary.
Finding out that your new teacher knows your secret and has plans for your magic is even more alarming.
What Tim does not know, but the raven sees, of course, is that Dr. Rose, with her scarlet scarf, has bloodily murdered Tim’s old teacher in his office with a fountainhead pen to the ear.
The Sandman Universe comes from master storyteller Neil Gaiman whose original work on Sandman has been nothing short of groundbreaking.
He is working with the talented writers of four new titles to come from the Sandman Universe.
The Sandman Universe 1 introduces the overall state of Dream, Daniel, and the Dreaming.
Because the raven knows, he hones in on Daniel in a city dressed as a teenager in Converse All Stars (donning white threads, of course), but he misses him before getting to speak to him.
It was like he had him and could not remember the Dream . . .
The Sandman Universe 1 story is by Neil Gaiman, and Simon Spurrier, Kat Howard, Nalo Hopkinson and Dan Watters write the yarn here as they set up their upcoming titles.
The illustrators of The Sandman Universe 1 are Bilquis Evely, Tom Fowler, Dominike “Domo” Stanton, Max Fiumara and Sebastian Fiumara.
Daniel does not want to be found. Has he given up his post as Dream?
At the end of the credits in The Sandman Universe 1 we get a post-credits scene if you will:
The Story Continues In . . .
The Dreaming #1 that comes out on 9/5/18, The House Of Whispers #1 coming out on 9/12/18, Lucifer #1 out 10/17/18, and Books Of Magic #1 released on 10/24/18 (just in time to get your magic up and running before Halloween).
Get ready for a journey through anything and everything dreams car offer and all while the infinite realms possibilities of the Dreamscape are unraveling!
Go grab a copy from your LCS, mine is Red Shirt Comics, before all of the coolest cover variants are gone!
“Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman Universe 1 Unravels Dreaming” was written by R.J. Huneke.
Writer: Neil Gaiman, Rafael Albuquerque, Rafael Scavone
Artist: Rafael Albuquerque, Dave Stewart
Colorist: Dave Stewart
Cover Artist: Rafael Albuquerque
Neil Gaiman’s A Study in Emerald: Holmes Falls To Cthulhu CONTAINS SPOILERS
This fantastical detective mystery has so much more than meets the eye going on.
We start at the beginning of the Sherlock Holmes mythos and Holmes meets John Watson in the world of Baker Street looking for a roommate for the London flat.
The tall Holmes is very familiar, as is the shuffling Dr. Watson.
Yet something is eerily different and out of place too.
That said I read the depiction of Watson’s war injury, from a Cthulhu-like kraken while he was at-sea in the Queen’s Army, and I completely failed to notice the near-standard 19th century sea-monster from the hidden depths of the volatile world was, in fact of the tale, a real Cthulhu.
I had entered a vastly darker Lovecraftian world and it had robbed the good doctor of his crack-shot ability by sucking life out of his shoulder.
This would only come back to me, like a splash of cold water on a sleeping face, at the finale of the grand tale.
In the dark mirrored world of H.P. Lovecraft – that is so close to our own and yet so starkly different and dark – the perpetrators of the tales’ main mystery, the prince’s murder, were never caught.
And though Holmes and Watson do uncover and even meet in-person the two wholly ruthless villains, foils of our heroes, one cannot help but wonder if the murderers – the tall actor and the shuffling doctor with his walking stick and his devious ability to wage medical knowledge as a war on anatomy – if they were not the mirror dimension of some H.P. Lovecraft multiverse: an evil Holmes and Watson!
But then that bears its own questions of good and evil and over-simplicity.
Lovecraft’s fear was sometimes best induced by building a world that reflected our own but just produced physical monsters to encompass real world troubles.
And in A Study in Emerald the Cthulhu beings are a mystery!
The wild one may have forever maimed Watson and yet the leaders of the world and the Queen Victoria of England Cthulhu has gone ahead and healed Watson upon meeting with the sleuths for hire.
The world has been ruled over by Cthulhu figures for hundreds of years.
The dynamic of pre-WWI era tensions – once called The Great War – are very apparent in the story, just in subtle ways.
As Holmes speaks to Inspector Lestrade of possible motive for the Prince Cthulhu’s murder, he talks in admiration of the anarchists: those who see the powerful Cthulhu leaders are feeding off of humanity’s pain.
And the anarchists feel humans are best left to ourselves, where chaos rains.
In the real world, this was indeed a sentiment shared by anarchists around that time.
And the terrorist-anarchist groups committed violent acts that shaped the world and its tension leading up to the first World War.
Back to the tale: a comically round version of Lestrade is exasperated by Sherlock’s blasphemy.
And Holmes, who seemed to know the Queen Cthulhu of England personally, is clearly sided with the crown’s rule and prosperity, despite his understanding of the motive.
This possibly points to Holmes and Watson as being the villains upholding authoritarianism in the tale, while the terrorizing murderers only committed their evil act out of hope for a cause that even Holmes seems to admire as a noble one, if not misplaced with violence.
The question of the age and the foils of the Cthulhu world Holmes and Watson are best left to our imaginations . . . for now.
Unless, of course, Mr. Gaiman and co. takes us back to this bizarre and riveting world again!
Ask your LCS for a copy of this marvelous hardcover from Dark Horse comics; I know Red Shirt Comics will get you one!
“Neil Gaiman’s A Study in Emerald: Holmes Falls To Cthulhu” was written by R.J. Huneke.