[*Mild Spoilers Ahead!]
Tim Hunter reflects on when he learned he had access to magical powers. He remembers his tutors and their adventures. Now, however, he is trapped in the mundane present of private school. He is mocked by his peers and even gets into a fight with a bully. However, magic may not be done with Tim Hunter. A teacher knows more than she lets on, and Tim gets a blank book which may lead him back to the world of magic.
Books of Magic #1 delivers a fairly bog-standard entry to this part of the Sandman Universe. The narrative of the former adventurer with supernatural powers struggling with normal life before rediscovering their abilities is far from fresh. Books of Magic hedges its bets on this by barely waiting a beat before reintroducing the magic.
Subverting a trope by minimizing it and moving on isn’t the worst way of handling it, but it’s also far from the best.
Tim Hunter fails to grab as a protagonist too. He’s a dorky kid and little more.
The most interesting beats of the comic are the brief encounter with Hettie the homeless woman and sequence at his home. The Hettie scene was weird and charming, and the scene at home contextualizes what Tim’s magic actually means to him– a connection to his lost mother.
It’s worth mentioning that this is my first experience with Books of Magic, but it doesn’t do anything to have me wanting more. It’s less frustratingly vague than The Dreaming, but it’s not as fresh and intriguing as House of Whispers or as deviously enticing as Lucifer.
Tom Fowler’s artwork grants a visual quirkiness to the comic, giving Tim Hunter and other characters emphasized visual features like big noses and big lips. It’s not like caricature work; it simply feels honest. People look weird sometimes. Environments are extensively detailed and look gorgeous. Jordan Boyd contributes a warm autumnal color palette cast against scenes in the dark. Both Fowler and Boyd are successful in making this a good-looking comic.
Books of Magic #1 is a lukewarm read, competently structured but with little to truly grab the reader. I didn’t dislike reading it, but I’d struggle to recommend it to anyone who isn’t in love with this particular Vertigo property.
Books of Magic #1 comes to us from writer Kat Howard, artist Tom Fowler, color artist Jordan Boyd, letterer Todd Klein, cover artist Kai Carpenter, and variant cover artist Josh Middleton.