Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Books of Magic #1 by Kat Howard - Comic Book Review

From the publisher: From the SANDMAN UNIVERSE #1, it’s the return of Neil Gaiman’s magical morality fable in an all-new series written by Kat Howard (Roses and Rot, An Unkindness of Magicians) and drawn by Tom Fowler (DOOM PATROL)!

Timothy Hunter may be destined tobecome the most powerful magician in the universe, but he’s still a London teenager, and having magical abilities complicates things more than it helps. It’s not like he can use magic to pass his exams, stop being bullied or convince his cute friend to date him. And while Tim’s trying to live his life, there are cultists who want to kill him, believing his power will eventually corrupt him into becoming a merciless mage. Oh, and those are the good guys. Luckily, his new substitute teacher is more than she appears, and may be able to help Tim discover the mystery behind the Books of Magic…

First, a little background. In the 1990's, Neil Gaiman wrote a mini-series about Tim Hunter, a boy who was destined to become the most powerful magician in universe. Following the success of the mini-series, a full series (not written by Gaiman) about Tim and his adventures ran for awhile. I read the Gaiman series, but I'm not familiar with any of the storylines from the regular series. All that to say Kat Howard's new Books of Magic series seems to pick up where Gaiman's left off. Tim Hunter was taken on a journey by four magic/supernatural-type DC characters and shown who and what he was destined to become, with the decision left up to him.

We join Tim at school, where he is trying to impress a girl with his "magic". Unfortunately for him, he hasn't learned anything yet, and just ends up being picked on. When confronted in class by a teacher, Tim discovers there is more to her than he thought; she is aware of who he is and what he is destined to do. She even provides him with a book (hence, the books of magic) that will start him on his journey to become the greatest magician ever. But first, he has to figure out how to read the book, because it's pages will remain blank until he is "ready". And then, he'll have to track down the other books.

Books of Magic #1 was a quick read. There is a lot of set-up going on, and not much in the way of explanation. We see Tim at school and at home, and he doesn't really seem to fit in at either place. He is very preoccupied with learning magic, which is natural if you're a teenager predicted to become a powerful magician. He seems a bit mopey, but I'm hopeful that changes in future issues, as that can make for a very unsympathetic main character. Tim's teacher is a mysterious lady who seems to know something about magic, and there is some sort of group who appears to be concerned that Tim has the first Book of Magic in his possession. Howard uses all of this to lay a foundation for a fine opening chapter in Tim's story. There is even a mini-flashback to show what happened in Gaiman's original mini-series for those unfamiliar with the story.

Overall, I enjoyed Books of Magic #1 by Kat Howard. This book appears to be continuing a terrific story begun 20-ish years ago, which should please longtime fans, but it is a great jumping on point for new readers, as well. I was intrigued enough by this first issue to come back again next month and see what Howard has planned for Tim Hunter.

I received a preview copy of this book from DC Comics and Vertigo in exchange for an honest review.

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