Magic For Millennials: Reviewing ‘The Marked Volume 1 TP’

by Brendan M. Allen

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 from evil forces.

After years of no new occult threats, The Marked use their tattooed powers solely for the pursuit of pleasure—that is, until a young woman called Liza creates a dangerous new form of hybrid sorcery. The party is over for The Marked.

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 assume the “art school” ads were also bogus, by association.

In The Marked Volume 1 TP, 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. Maybe 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 to kick it up a notch, and it works pretty well. 

There are initially a couple little hitches that feel a little, well, scripted, but from the second chapter on, this thing flows really well. These are hip, snarky kids, who can do some pretty amazing things with their edgy magic ink.

Haberlin, Jay Anacleto, and Geirrod Van Dyke throw up a unique visual signature that works really well for the material. 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. Glyph imagery blends classic and modern tattoo designs in a way that is striking and impactful. 

This is obviously not an entirely original concept. As I already mentioned, occult power in tattoos is an idea 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 also have to be acknowledged, and there’s one scene that is, beat for beat, almost identical to one in the 2005 Constantine film. Occult power and tattoos, disenfranchised kid selling out her friends to The Man, a secret school teaching kids to harness their mystical powers… All very familiar stuff. 

That being said, this is a great book. It’s dynamic and fun, full of dark magic, action, and treachery. 

The Marked Volume1 TP, Image Comics, 01 July 2020. Story by David Hine and David Haberline, art by David Haberline and Jay Anacleto, colors by Geirrod Van Dyke, letters by Francis Takenaga, edited by Melanie Hackett.

Brendan M. Allen

Brendan Allen has probably had more jobs than you would reasonably believe. Dog trainer? He’s done it. Flooring contractor? You bet! EMT? Army NBC specialist? Road dog for a Celtic rock band? Yes, yes, and och aye! Now he reads comics and writes about them. It's a rough gig. You can follow Brendan on Twitter @SaintAmish where he tweets about comic books and cystic fibrosis awareness.

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