Comic book reviews: Magus, by Jon Price, David Norton & Rebekah Isaacs

In the “better late than never” department, here are some thoughts on Magus, a five issue miniseries published by 12-Gauge Comics in 2011.  The series was co-created by Jon Price and David Norton.  Price wrote the first four issues, with Norton co-writing the conclusion.  Rebekah Isaacs provided the artwork for the entire series.

Thousands of years ago, magic and the supernatural were everyday, commonplace phenomena, and all human beings had the ability to use mystic powers.  Unfortunately, over time, humanity began to abuse its magical abilities, using them to wage war and amass power.  Eventually, to save the world, the source of magic was sealed away, and 99.9% of human beings lost the ability to access it.  Over time, magic slipped into myth, and people came to regard it as superstition or fairy tales.  Of the very tiny number of humans who were still able to tap into the source of magic, they were guided in the use of their abilities by a society of Guardians.  A second group, the Brotherhood, regarded magic as a sickness, and they hunted down any magic users they could find.

In the present day, the seal holding back the mystic source is finally beginning to crumble, with more and more humans gradually beginning to develop supernatural abilities.  The Guardians hope to find the cause of the seal being fractured, and try to prevent it from completely collapsing, which they believe will plunge the world into chaos.  Meanwhile, the Brotherhood is simply interested in eradicating every new magic user they can locate before the general public becomes fully aware of magic.

Magus #2
Magus #2

The premise of Magus developed by Price and Norton is pretty cool.  I like the idea of a world very much like our own where one day magic suddenly starts to appear all over the place.  A series that explores how different people react to these astounding occurrences really has a lot of potential.  It occurred to me that in a lot of genre television, you have a need to maintain the status quo from week to week, and after a while it really stretches suspension of disbelief.  For instance, in shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Charmed or The X-Files, there was weird phenomena occurring on a regular basis, but the general public never seems to notice.  Or, to use one of my favorite shows as an example, in Doctor Who it seems like roughly every other serial some new group of aliens is trying to invade Earth but, once again, no one seems to remember all those bug-eyed monsters marching through the streets of London.  So it’s a cool idea to have a book like Magus that does look at how drastically and violently everyday existence might be upended when mystical episodes began occurring across the world.

The characters created by Price and Norton are an interesting, compelling group.  This first story arc, “From the Ashes,” is really to establish them, and their roles in relation to the breaking of the mystic seal.  As well as set them up for future storylines.  There were also some unexpected plot twists.  After reading the first two issues, I thought I knew where aspects of the story were heading, or how certain characters were going to develop.  But in the next three issues, things went in a completely different manner.  So there definitely isn’t a great deal of predictability to this title.

The artwork by Rebekah Isaacs on Magus is very nicely done.  Isaacs is definitely one of the best new talents to emerge in the comic book biz within the last few years.  I first became aware of her work when she illustrated DV8: Gods and Monsters, which was written by Brian Wood.  Isaacs’ artwork was so completely different from J. Scott Campbell, Humberto Ramos, or Al Rio, i.e. the typical style I so closely associated with DV8 as a whole, so much so that I bought that miniseries hoping to find a very different take on the characters & concepts.  I really enjoyed the work Isaacs did on DV8, which is what led me to pick up Magus.

It’s quite clear that “From the Ashes” is intended as the first of several story arcs by Jon Price and David Norton.  They clearly have a plan for where to take their characters.  Although, given how unpredictably dramatic the first Magus storyline was, I wouldn’t hazard to guess where they mean to go with them.  This is definitely a good thing, because this seems like the kind of series that would not get stale or predictable.  I really hope that in the future Price and Norton have the opportunity to return to Magus with a new miniseries, as I am certainly keen to see what happens next.  And if Magus does return, I also hope it will have Rebekah Isaacs once again providing her wonderful artwork.

I don’t know how widely distributed Magus was.  I was fortunate enough to find copies of the issues through Midtown Comics, either in their NYC stores or on their website.  12-Gauge Comics also has the issues for sale on their website.  I definitely think it’s worth the time to look for Magus online, because it really is a high-quality, entertaining series.

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