*Obie, through his dabbling in arcane magics mixed with ancient corrupt business practices, has had not just the colors of his fur switched, but a complete overhaul of his work ethic as well…I think I’m kinda okay with the mishap.
***Possible Spoilers Below***
Friday Slice of Heaven
This 12-page prelude is probably not necessary to jumping into next month’s 15-issue main series, but if you are a Mage fanatic like me, it is absolutely vital that you pick it up. It is also vital is that you start at the beginning of this epic hero’s journey in order to better understand, love, become frustrated with, and feel for our hero, Kevin Matchstick. The first chapter is Mage: The Hero Discovered (first half and second half), the second is Mage: The Hero Defined, with the third and final act being Mage: The Hero Denied. Again, you need to read these things in order. Trust me, you will be well-rewarded for taking the time to get to know the ragtag cast of characters and celebrate their tremendous victories as well mourn their terrible defeats.
All of that said — and there’s a whole heapin’ helpin’ more on the subject of Mage below — this brief reintroduction does not disappoint. As he waits for the big bad monster to make its appearance, Kevin meets a younger, newer hunter named Steeze, a big-talkin’, know-it-all with a ’90s-comic look and a skateboarding set of powers that work well enough, but his general lack of experience quickly puts him in harm’s way and it’s up to Kevin to save him. Kevin is older now, balding, and more confident, but still dresses in his standard black t-shirt with a white lightning bolt, jeans, sneakers, and trench coat. He also possesses some electrifying new abilities. He’s bad ass and he knows it…which has been a problem with Kevin in the past and looks to be a problem in the near future.
To put it mildly, I’m in.
Wagner’s son provides the lovely colors atop Wagner’s gorgeous art and from the very first page, I was brought back to the magical world of Mage as if the decades since the first issue had never happened. I am super excited for the emotionally-wrought final tale upon which we are about to embark. I know there’s going to be laughs and an equal amount of sorrows to follow in these final 15 issues, but I will be there, eagerly awaiting each issue as the epic tale of Kevin Matchstick finally comes to a close. I can’t wait! Magic is green, Denizens. Magic is green!
VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
Let’s right this wrong.
I actually came to Mage a bit late. In fact, I first discovered Matt Wagner through his Grendel: Devil by the Deed collection which I received for Christmas back in the mid-eighties — I later went on to read and love Wagner’s Grendel series as well. Before that, it was an ad in the back of publisher Comico’s Elementals (written and illustrated by Bill Willingham) that initially put Wagner on my comic radar. Still, it wasn’t until my high school drafting class, after discovering a mutual love of Grendel, that my friend Billy sold me on the need to get into Mage.
Unfortunately, my LCS only had some of the back issues on hand, and they were a bit out of my price range at the time, but they did have the first (and only) two volumes of Magebook which collected issues 1–8. I devoured them with a feverish fervor and promptly read them again to tide me over until I could get back to the LCS and pick up issues 10 and 11 which were still on the shelves; it would be a while before I could get my hands on a copy of missing issue #9. The wait between new issues was painful, but Billy and I had much to talk about back in 1986, with the release of Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, The Watchmen, Miracleman and Saga of the Swamp Thing blowing our minds. It was a damn good time for comics, one I doubt will ever be repeated, but Mage was there riding the waves of greatness along with the other big-time comics, yet never quite managing to garner the praise and acclaim those other books would go on to receive.
I can still picture seeing issue #14 on the new release table at Andromeda Books in Goleta, California, and the heart-skipping thrill of finding issue #15 on the stands at Andromeda Books in Santa Barabara; the story and art of each was more than I could have ever hoped for. By the end, I was a little heartbroken over the cost Kevin’s quest had taken upon him and those he loved, but his victory was still glorious, and I have reread this series every other year since it ended — come to think of it, I’m about due for another read. The best thing about the end of the final issue, though, was the “Coming Soon” page soliciting the next chapter.
Nearly a decade after Mage: The Hero Defined wrapped, Amy and I attended our first comic convention at the San Diego Comic Con, where I got to meet Matt Wagner and he graciously signed my Mage: The Hero Discovered #1 and 6, Grendel: Behold the Devil #0, and my hardcover Grendel Archives, inside of which he drew a quick little Grendel sketch. All of these items will be buried with me in my tomb at the time of my death when I turn 112. I can’t begin to tell you how wonderful it is to meet one of your greatest heroes and find out they’re as nice of a person as they are a master of their craft.
The only negative I have to say about the current collections of Mage is that I prefer the original colors on the series, which I believe were achieved by Wagner blowing through a special type of marker to achieve an airbrushed look to the comic — it’s stunning, but whatchagonnado. At least I have all of the original issues, the two Magebooks, and the two softcover collections to fit my mood…all of which will accompany me in my aforementioned tomb.
So, that all said, what is all the fuss about Mage? What’s it all about? Well, I can’t say much other than it’s the story of Kevin Matchstick who’s down on his luck only to find that a chance encounter with a street beggar sets him on a path of heroics against the demonic forces of evil. On his journey, Kevin meets Mirth, Edsel, Sean, Joe, Kirby, and Wally and you will fall in love with them all. There is a twist to the story that occurs near the end of the first chapter, but I’m not about to spoil it for you. You MUST read this series, Denizens. It’s a Donist World Darling of the highest degree, and something ALL fans of great comics need to experience. It’s definitely one of my top 10 favorite comic series of all time and…actually, come to think of it, make that top five. You need to get on this!
VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
Slice into the Woods
Please Just Put #45 and All of His Scum in Jail Already - Before they can commit any further damage. “Stupid Watergate” needs to end.