Mystic U #1 – Alisa Kwitney, Writer; Mike Norton, Artist; Jordie Bellaire, Colorist
Release day: Wednesday, November 29, 2017
Ray – 8.5/10
Corrina: Excellent start.
Ray: Mystic U has had a long, strange trip to publication. It was originally announced as a series as part of the DC You imprint that tanked sales-wise (despite some deeply inventive series that launched the DC careers of Tom King, Steve Orlando, and Mark Russell), but it never saw print along with another title called Dark Universe. Now it’s been reinvented as a prestige format miniseries with the original writer, Kwitney (who was once an editor for Vertigo) and new artist Mike Norton.
Essentially a magical college alternate universe for DC’s magical characters, it kicks off with Zatanna as the last one standing after a cataclysmic battle. She casts a risky spell designed to write a new beginning for all of them – and the next thing she knows, she’s a teenager again, serving as assistant to her magician father. When her first attempt at magic goes horribly wrong, her father winds up trapped in hell, and she gets an invite to a place where she can learn to control her powers.
Obviously, the Hogwarts parallels are intense here, but this feels less like a magical fantasy school and more like a modern college with magical complications. The famous characters are divided between students and teacher, with Zatanna, Sargon, Faust Jr., and an original character named Pia among the students, while Rose Psychic, the malevolent Mr. E, and Frankenstein make up the faculty. The double-sized first issue contains a welcoming event that gets completely out of control when a blob monster appears (with a twist that made this feel a bit like an X-men comic) as well as the last page twist that casts a distinctly more sinister vibe on this group of students. It’s an oddball book that isn’t likely to have any bearings on the DCU in the future, but it’s also a great entry-level comic for DC’s magical characters. But where’s Constantine? Probably stealing smokes from the teacher’s lounge.
Corrina: As if Constantine would go to college? Hah! If anything, he’s that dropout that hangs out in the college pub/bar enticing other students to slack off and get in trouble.
And imagining something like that is the beauty of this setup, allowing a reimagination of DC’s mystical characters in a setting that provides the creative team room to explore so much more about them. Zatanna is somewhat of a known figure but while we’ve known for years that she was her father’s assistant and she had to learn magic, we haven’t had many stories about her learning process or how she came to know all the other mystical/magical DC characters and this is a perfect setting for that. (Yes, I rather still love the whole Homo Magi explanation for her powers in the 1970s that was used pre-Crisis on Infinite Earths but I suspect that’s hit the dustbin of DC history and this idea is excellent too.)
The framing device that begins the story–needing to change the future to save the world–creates something at stake right away, and allows the miniseries to work toward an end goal. I’m looking forward to reading the rest of this.
Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.