The Books of Magic #14 – Kat Howard, Simon Spurrier, Writers; Tom Fowler, Layouts, Craig Taillefer, Finishes, Jordan Boyd, Colorist
Ray – 9/10
Ray: Books of Magic #14 is the best issue of the series. This collaboration between regular writer Kat Howard and line mastermind Simon Spurrier concludes a month of John Constantine cameos by giving the blue collar mage his biggest guest role yet.
As we know, Constantine comes from a world where Tim Hunter grew to be a dark sorcerer who killed most of Constantine’s allies and destroyed the world. Books of Magic #14 makes it clearer than any of the previous ones that this is vintage Hellblazer Constantine, at least a version of him. He’s a weathered, ruthless old mage who has been through the ringer a few dozen times and seems at least a decade older than the Constantine we see in Justice League Dark. He’s determined to not let history repeat itself and plans to assassinate Tim – but he’s shocked to find out that the boy wizard is still a boy in this world. That doesn’t stop him from luring Tim into a particularly cruel trap.
This title has always done a good job of melding the everyday with the surreal, and this issue is no exception. Constantine takes Tim into a shady bar – but that bar is just the staging for a cosmic test that takes place within the pages of a magic book, overseen by a decrepit angel taskmaster.
As Tim is faced with one set of choices after another that become increasingly cruel and horrific, Constantine plans to sell his comatose form in the real world to a pair of supernatural beings. These cannibalistic monsters are willing to eat anyone for the right price, but before Constantine’s plan can work, Tim finds a way to hack the system.
It’s a fascinating battle of wills that shows Constantine at his darkest and Tim at his most clever. The arrival of Constantine in this universe may affect Tim the most, as the next solicit hints that Tim’s future self will show up. This is a fascinating issue that takes the whole series in a bold and dark new direction.
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Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.