There’s something truly alluring about the dark arts. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve been fascinated by ideas such as necromancy, voodoo, demonic incantations, portals to terrifying dimensions, etc. Despite my love of magic, I was never really into the whole Harry Potter lovefest...
...When kids were reading that, I was reading Stephen King’s The Stand. See, I was into more into what I considered at the time adult reading (no offense to fans of Harry Potter, I’m sure its wonderful). This is why I’m happy to report that for horror fans looking for that dark magic story with a twisted splash of horror, The Magic Order is just for you.
Coming from Image and written by Mark Millar (Kick-Ass, Kingsman: The Secret Service), The Magic Order #1 drops us right into a war between rival factions of wizards, witches and magicians. I’m not talking about card tricks and guys in top hats with goofy mustaches (well, maybe some top hats). These are REAL magicians, with REAL powers, most of which are quite dangerous. After the murder of a member of the The Order (a group of wizards sworn to protect humanity from unimaginable horrors), a family of wizard detectives, led by Leonard Moonstone, take on the case. The forces they face are powerful and cruel, though, and will stop at nothing to complete their mission…whatever that is.
The Magic Order #1 has a lot to love about it. Millar is a great writer, and in this concept, he has created what I consider to be a slight spiritual successor to Clive Barker’s Lord of Illusions, only with much more promise, since Millar doesn’t have the limitations that Barker did with his film. Together with artist Olivier Coipel (The Legion, House of M), the two have conjured a fascinating world full of rich characters populating a stylistically satisfying noir era. Coipel does a fantastic job with his imagery. While this story takes place in the modern day with modern looking people, all those associated with The Order have an old-fashioned noir appearance. Every frame featuring our magical protagonists is drawn with a moody tone befitting of the noir genre, filled with the smoke of cigars and cigarettes alike (being wizards and all, they probably don’t have to worry about lung cancer. Lucky bastards). Leonard and his kids (all except estranged son Gabriel), dress like its 1950. Even the villain we’re introduced to, Madame Albany, is the femme fatale of Humphrey Bogart’s nightmares.
The actual magic in The Magic Order #1 is enough to have me picking up a wand at Universal’s Harry Potter Land and waving it around like I’m Lord Voldemort (because who wants to be the hero? BORING). Like I said, these aren’t parlor tricks. The magic featured in Magic Order #1 is highly unique, and even the moments that feel familiar all come with a dark twist that will send a shudder down your spine. Even the rituals which these people conduct feel ancient and full of history. I have to applaud Millar’s imagination for what he’s accomplished in this first issue. And I don’t want to leave Coipel off the imagination pillar either, as he’s put some awe-inspiring creatures on the page that hint at apocalyptical events to come. I’m talking Godzilla-sized creatures right of Lovecraft’s mythos. THOSE kind of apocalyptic events.
Perhaps the only complaint I have with The Magic Order #1 is that it is a little too busy. Just when you’re starting to settle into the mood of one particular scene or getting to know a set of characters, the page turns and we’re somewhere else with a whole new group of people. There’s a lot happening in this first issue, a little too much, and at times it feels as if there isn’t enough space in this first issue for all of the ideas which Millar wants to introduce us to.
Millar has had a lot of success with his work being adapted into feature films. I know its early, and that this is like telling someone you want to marry them on a first date before the basket of crusty bread has even arrived, but I’m praying to the old gods that this series gets a TV adaptation. The Magic Order is Netflix’s first comic as well, since Netflix recently purchased Millarworld, a company run by Mark and Lucy Miller, so I wouldn’t be surprised if we get exactly that. There is so much to enjoy in Magic Order #1 that I highly suggest you grab it before it disappears before your eyes.
By Matt Konopka