The Books of Magic #1 – Kat Howard, Writer; Tom Fowler, Artist; Jordan Boyd, Colorist
Ray – 8/10
Corrina: Introductory Issue
Ray: The final book in the Sandman Universe line is here, with The Books of Magic #1, reinventing the classic character of Tim Hunter. Neil Gaiman’s boy wizard never quite attained the mainstream attention of Sandman or Lucifer, and it’s impossible to talk about the character without discussing the other bespectacled boy wizard.
Tim Hunter precedes Harry Potter, of course, but any relaunch will instantly be compared. New writer Kat Howard wisely separates the two as much as possible by viewing Tim Hunter’s pursuit of magic less as an all-encompassing adventure and more as a particularly odd extracurricular. Tom Fowler’s art, in the opening pages, takes on the vibe of an old-fashioned storybook as we’re taken through the earliest days of Tim’s journey into magic. He trains under great wizards and supernatural beings and is then given the choice – return to the mundane world, or live in a world of magic. Then he wakes up in his ordinary classroom, confused and unable to do magic.
Tim is being rebooted in this and is once again a teenager early in his training.
This might be part of the story that will be explained later, but it’s a bit jarring. Some of his adventures here are a bit tropey – he tries to impress a girl with magic tricks, he fights bullies, he and his widowed father have a tense relationship – but there’s magic lurking outside every frame. His stern teacher, Ms. Rose, is a figure from Neil Gaiman’s past work that many people will recognize. Tim’s only remnant of his time traveling with his magical mentors is an old book of spellcraft that he’s always this close to fully unlocking only to lose it. What stands out about this book compared to the other three books in the line is how quick a read it is. It’s a very conventional story, a boy’s coming of age as he tries to unlock the mystery around him. Tim Hunter is a compelling lead character, and the story has some great character driven moments. Unlike the other three books, it doesn’t feel like there’s some grand mystery to be unlocked.
Corrina: The Books of Magic is easily the most accessible of the Sandman Universe line with, as Ray said, a conventional coming-of-age story of a teenage boy growing into his power. This first issue does a fine job of telling me who Tim Hunter is and why he’s important in the overall scheme of magic.
It does a somewhat worse job of making me care about Tim Hunter himself. I understand he’s at the crossroads of his life, and, if he masters magic, he may rescue or find his mother again, which is terrific motivation, but Tim himself doesn’t stand out as unique. Perhaps it’s because his school scenes are fairly basic, as Ray noted, and that his indifferent relationship with his father is similar to those in many coming-of-age stories. Instead, I wanted something unique, something “Tim,” that would make me stand up and take notice of this boy. But he could be any boy of similar age, especially his complaints that he can’t do something when he clearly can.
But Ms. Rose did draw my attention. She is teaching at a regular school and also Tim’s magical mentor? And she watches over him outside his house? Interesting. (But, note, I always had a fondness for Giles among all of Buffy’s Scooby Gang…)
It’s a solid start, especially for new readers, and hopefully, it will become more Vertigo-like and unique in future issues.
To find reviews of all the DC issues, visit DC This Week.
Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.