Healthy Doses Of Mobsters, Magic, And Mayhem In Tommy Gun Wizards #1

by Brendan M. Allen

Eliot Ness and his team of Untouchables work overtime taking on dangerous criminals that hide in the seedy underbelly of 1930s Chicago. Except in this world, Al Capone isn’t dealing in alcohol, but in magic. With Lick, a drug that grants magical powers to anyone who ingests it, mobsters become wizards, ordinary men become monsters, and darker secrets than Ness can imagine lie at the heart of it all.
A new genre-bending comic series from Christian Ward, artist of the acclaimed sci-fi epic Invisible Kingdom. Drawn by Sami Kivela (Abbott).

What if the Chicago Outfit rose to power in the late 20’s dealing not in bootlegged liquor, but illicit magic? What if, instead of smashing barrels of liquor and shutting down speakeasies, Eliot Ness and his Untouchables were kicking down the doors of “lick” dens? Places where Joe Lunchbucket could go to indulge in a little harmless magic. Something that could make him slightly better looking, slightly more talented, slightly more badass? (Hold up. Isn’t that what liquor does anyway?)

Christian Ward deftly sidesteps the need for exhaustive exposition by drawing from the deep well of public knowledge (and assumptions) of this period in Chicago history. The popular view on magic use in Tommy Gun Wizards #1 is almost identical to the attitudes on alcohol during the actual historical Prohibition. Most folks publicly decried the use of alcohol, while privately imbibing. Alphonse Capone was seen as an almost sympathetic figure in the press. Take all that, strip away (most of) the liquor, swap in magic, and we’ve got the basic setup for this new Dark Horse series.
Of course, there are some historical liberties taken. Detectives Wilson, Smith, Mayflower, and Lombard never existed. Not in any way associated with Ness and the Untouchables, anyway. Not sure where the inspiration comes from for these four guys, except that it’s probably easier to distill fourteen major players down to five.

Sami Kivela’s linework is a great fit for this story. Depression-era Chicago blends seamlessly with the urban fantasy elements in Ward’s script. The mystical aspects are just a few degrees to the left of mundane, until all hell breaks loose in the first raid. Christian Ward and Dee Cunniffe are both credited for the gritty, grounded palette that makes the art feel right at home with other period gangster pieces, right up to those first magically enhanced finger lasers.

While Tommy Gun Wizards doesn’t do anything terribly groundbreaking in this series opener, it is a solid entry into the period gangster/paranormal/horror genre. Yeah, that’s a thing. So far, this feels a lot like The Damned and Moonshine, with some Curse Words, Elsewhere, and Hellblazer thrown in for good measure.

Tommy Gun Wizards #1, Dark Horse Comics, released 28 August 2019. Created by Christian Ward and Sami Kivela, written by Christian Ward, art by Sami Kivela, color by Christian Ward with Dee Cunniffe, letters by Hassan Otsmane-Elhau, backup story written and illustrated by Christian Ward, cover by Christian Ward, variant cover by Declan Shalvey. Published by Mike Richardson, edits by Daniel Chabon assisted by Chuck Howitt, design by Anita Magana, digital art by Allyson Haller.

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