In Snow White, the Evil Queen used her magic mirror to find out who’s the fairest in the land. Mandy is learning magic from hers. What could go wrong?
As long as you have a ComiXology account, Red 5 have made it easy to download the new zero issue of Legacy of Mandrake the Magician. Before you know how easy it is, though, the editor’s note in issue #1 is liable to set-off a panic. While it alerts readers to the fact that a zero issue exists, it doesn’t explain that it’s free and was never available in print. At least once the initial panic is over the issue is very accessible but if you need a zero issue to understand what’s going on, there should be some warning about it. While that might defeat the purpose of making it a surprise, I also think ComiXology listed the issue wrong – Diego Girabildi is credited as the illustrator, but the cover says Lucas Romero.
I will say that if it weren’t for the editor’s note I don’t think anyone would realize the story had already started, but that doesn’t mean the zero issue isn’t important or that it doesn’t hold crucial information for later in the arc. The reason it doesn’t stand out now is because the main character, Mandy Paz, doesn’t even realize what’s going on.
Issue #1 opens on Mandy having a nightmare, and it sounds like she’s been having a lot of those lately, ever “since Nadia left town.” What Mandy doesn’t realize (and what readers of the zero issue will) is there’s a reason for that. This won’t be the last time writer, Erica Schultz, tips readers off to something Mandy doesn’t know. I don’t think, for instance, that Mandy is aware of the label “Soon” attached to her nightmare, which implies she’s actually having a vision of the future. Then, at the end of issue one, Shultz provides readers with a translation of the spell Mandy casts (Mandy doesn’t speak Latin).
Mandy’s a magician but issue one of Legacy of Mandrake is basically a day in the life of a high schooler. Nothing really big happens. Mandy’s mom wants her to go to college. There are hints that Mandrake the Magician might be Mandy’s dad but the only concrete evidence we have is that he owns the building where Mandy and her mom live. Issue zero did more heavy lifting in terms of setting up an ongoing storyline but it is fun to watch Mandy use magic casually, like for turning up the volume on the TV.
While she’s still learning to control her powers, she’s already got a disguise and a new hair style. It’s not always clear why she picks certain moments to put it on but I do like that Giribaldi (who’s the artist on issue #1, with J.P. Massa credited for backgrounds) avoids the Superman gimmick of the bumbling nerd who turns into a brawny superhero. When Mandy wears a disguise there’s no change in personality, but she always looks cool no matter what.
Where Legacy of Mandrake struggles in is developing the relationships between the different characters. In issue zero, for example, Mandy’s best friend, LJ, keeps it a secret from her that he has powers, too, but why, and why don’t we see him navigating his powers the same way Mandy does?
The one relationship that does stand out is the one between Mandy and Alruin, a sorcerer who’s trapped in a mirror amongst Mandrake’s things. If colorist, Ramon Bunge, and letterer, Martin Casanova, are following Disney rules, however, than it’s probably not a good sign that Alruin is associated with green.
Legacy of Mandrake the Magician #1 is available on Wednesday October 28th from Red 5 Comics.