The Books of Magic #4 – Kat Howard, Writer; Tom Fowler, Artist; Jordan Boyd, Colorist
Ray – 8.5/10
Ray: Of the four titles in this Sandman Universe line, The Books of Magic has set itself apart by doggedly staying low-key and letting Tim Hunter’s story of magical self-discovery play out at a snail’s pace. That’s never more clear than in The Books of Magic #4, an intimate tale of magical lessons getting out of control at the library.
The beginning of the issue immerses us in mundane, quiet moments – Tim gets out of bed and sends his shapeshifting owl familiar off to its own business, has an awkward conversation with his father, and walks to school At school, an ordinary day turns unusual when Tim’s teacher/magic tutor calls off classes for the day. She’s off to take care of some “business” – likely relating to the corrupt teacher she murdered and the magical assassins trailing her and Tim. In an experience that all former schoolkids can no doubt relate to, she gives them an odd busywork assignment in the library for that day – but Tim’s visit to the library may have more meaning.
Tom Fowler’s art does a great job of conveying a sense of subtle menace in the library, with towering shelves filled with looming volumes. Tim splits from his nicely multicultural classmates to meet with the vaguely creepy librarian, asking his help with his specific assignment.
But along the way, he encounters the class bully at the exact wrong time – and Tim’s attempt to practice his magic by lifting books off the shelf goes badly and he risks exposing his powers to the worst person possible. Well, maybe not the worst person – there’s a far bigger danger looming. The plotting feels a little scattershot at times – Tim is sent to the headmaster’s office, but never actually goes and instead wanders out of school – but the mix of normalcy and looming supernatural elements is really appealing.
Of the four Sandman Universe books, this is the one that stands out as the most accessible to new readers.
To find reviews of all the DC issues, visit DC This Week.
Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.