Review: Glastonbury Gone Wrong In ‘Books Of Magic’ #19 From Barnett, Fowler And DC Comics

by Olly MacNamee

In an ideal world Books of Magic would have happily coincided with the actual fiftieth anniversary of Glastonbury – probably the most famous musical festival ever – but then came the you-know-what and the world was turned upside down. But, not so in the Sandman Universe where our plucky hero, Tim Hunter, heads off to this debauch, hedonist music festival with a bit more than a pocket full of weed and LSD to conjure up the weekend’s magic. Although, as we learn in the opening pages of Books of Magic #19, hallucinogenics help. 

Tim Hunter just happens to bump into a fellow magic user, Northern lass Izzy. Guest writer, David Barnett, always does a good line in back-and-forth bubbly banter between characters, as I discover in Punks Not Dead, and here he is, once again, infusing realistic, light-hearted dialogue that draws you into issue and the story. It’s not too long that Tim calls up Izzy and they head off to Glastonbury themselves. Or at least, that’s what they thought was the plan.

Meanwhile, a subplot is developing that involves the transference of ownership of a very exotic product indeed. Terpsichore, the muse of song and dance. Yeah, you can see where this is heading with the introduction of such a character? But, that’s no revelation and it’s done away with rather quickly to get this story up and running. It’s very well paced by this still considerably new comic book writing talent.

Barnett, like me, was a child of the heady 90s here in the UK and so we share similar cultural capital. I too grew up with summers spent at music festivals and concerts. Anything but that information though, and I’ll plead the fifth. Having had such great memories made at these utopian happenings, I can understand why the wheelchair bound Geoffrey Morris is so desperate to go to one more before he frees his newfound slave, the aforementioned Terpsichore. But, it’s a very specific festival he has in mind and one we, the reader, should worry about if Terpsichore’s reaction to this request is anything to go by. Just avoid the brown acid, surely, and you’ll be fine, right?

And so the two plots collide at the festival and the chance for Barnett to flex his writing muscles and go ape on parodying many incidents many a festival goers can relate to. And, in artist Tom Fowler, Barnett has found a great partner for this particular story. Fowler’s no nonsense art and expressive features help bring this dialogue driven issue to life, and allows each moment the room to breathe in a beautiful balancing act of art and script. It reminded me of Dark Horse’s Fight Club 2 (or Fight Club 3) in style by Cameron Stewart.

Glastonbury always takes place near the Summer Solstice making this music festival one of the more in touch with alternative counter-culture; a mix of alternative philosophies, Wiccan worship, and tie-die t-shirts, all set to the best bands of the moment. What’s not to like? It’s the reason why, I am sure, Barnett has chosen this as his particular backdrop. That, and write about what you know. But then, if you remembered the 90s… And, it would seen, Geoff does. A time when he was at his most happiest. We can all react to that, just as we can relate to the desire to relive those glory days. But, we can’t. And, if qe could, there’d be heavy consequences, wouldn’t there? Well, that’s the question to be answered next issue after a promising first part and the introduction of a new, more confident new character in Izzy from Wigan. A UK character in a comic that doesn’t herald from London? Now that really is magic!

Books of Magic #19 is available now from DC Comics

Olly MacNamee

A unashamed DC Comics fan and sometime teacher for over 20 years! I got lucky and found the escape hatch. Now, I just read and write about comics all day long. Co-host of the ICE-Cast podcast and one third of the brains behind Birmingham's street art and graffiti festival High Vis Fest.

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