The Marked may look like cool young influencers, but beneath the designer clothes, their bodies are tattooed with the magical glyphs of an ancient order that secretly protects the world against evil forces. With no new occult threats, The Marked use their tattooed powers solely for the pursuit of pleasure until a young woman called Liza creates a dangerous new form of Hybrid Sorcery. The party is over for The Marked. You’ll believe in magic—terrifying, soul-destroying magic.
You remember seeing the ads. They were tucked in the back of comic books and magazines. Draw this simple picture. Mail it in. If it’s good enough, we’ll let you into our art school. Some were probably legit. Most were scams, though, right? I mean, they had to be. Hell, I don’t know. I was ten. I do know the hovercraft plans they were selling on the facing page for only $0.75 never arrived, so I assumed the “art school” ads were also bogus, by association.
In The Marked #1, a young and gifted artist named Saskia replies to just such an ad. A stack of fliers left on a coffee house counter promises a twenty thousand dollar scholarship to an elite art school, just for copying the art sample on the flier. Looks simple enough. Long haired brunette in profile. Except, that’s not what Saskia sees or puts to paper. The kid’s got “sight.” There’s something else hidden in the image, and her ability to see and recreate the subliminal image gets her the promised scholarship to the art school equivalent of Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters. I guess they aren’t all scams.
The relationship between tattooing, religion, and the occult goes back thousands of years. David Hine and Brian Haberline take the mystical, magical tattoo idea and throw some modern tech into the mix. Hine and Haberline kick the timeline around quite a bit, taking us from the end, back to the beginning, all the way back to the very beginning, and then back to storyline present. It works well enough in this first chapter. The jumping around gives enough history on the whole situation to bring readers in without a ton of blocky narration. Some. Not a ton.
Interactions between characters are generally well crafted. There are a couple little hitches that feel a little, well, scripted, but for the most part, this thing flows really well. These are hip, snarky kids, who can do some pretty amazing things with their edgy ink.
And then there’s that art. Obviously, we’re dealing with a bunch of tattoos in this one, yeah? There are some beautiful Neo-Trad, Bio-Mech, Tribal, and geometric tattoos on display. The settings and backgrounds are distinct, detailed, and interesting. There’s a dark edge that ties the whole thing together.
This is obviously not an entirely original concept. As I already mentioned, occult power in tattoos is a concept that’s been around since the first knucklehead discovered that rubbing ashes into a cut left a cool, dark scar. Parallels to the X-Men have to be acknowledged, and there’s one scene, right there in the preview pages, that is visually almost identical to a scene the 2005 Constantine film.
That all being said, this is a great book, and an absolute steal at almost double the page count of a standard monthly. This is about as good of an opening salvo as you’ll find. Introductions have been made, this world and its rules have been roughly defined. It’ll be interesting to see where this thing goes.
The Marked #1, Image Comics, released 16 October 2019. Written by David Hine and Brian Haberlin, art by Brian Haberlin, color by Geirrod Van Dyke, letters by Francis Takenaga, lead developer David Pentz, produced by Diana Sanson and Hannah Wall, edited by Melanie Hackett.