If you enjoy fantasy comics and haven’t picked up this title yet, it’s only two issues in. Let it weave it’s – ahem – spell on you. This isn’t just a fun Magic comic book, it’s a fun comic book with a very light touch.
Magic #2 starts right where the previous issue ended: catching up with three planeswalkers who survived a coordinated assassination attempt: the gorgon Vraska, the electro-sorcerer Ral Zarek and the ghost assassin Kaya. A fourth planeswalker, the mind sculptor Jace, was injured while interrogating one of the assassins who, in turn, managed to hit Jace’s psyche with a mematic weapon inducing a “deeply damaging,” paralyzing bout of fear.
For those unfamiliar with Magic: The Gathering, a Planeswalker is a powerful mage with the ability to transport between different planes of existence. There have been many of them throughout Magic’s history, and even the players playing the game symbolically take on that form as they’re casting sorceries and enchantments and summoning creatures.
The three of them deduce that Jace might have been the target all along and proceed to find themselves in the middle of another ambush, this time an attempt on Jace’s life while he recuperates in his own salt-water version of the Lazarus Pit.
One of the defining facets of the Magic: The Gathering game are the color identities between five distinct colors: white, blue, black, red and green. Each of them has specific strengths as well as weaknesses and each non-land card players can play (or “cast”) has a casting cost. It requires using the appropriate color of “mana” to pay for the spell the player intends to use that’s specific to the card itself. A “counterspell,” for example,” which stops pretty much any spell dead in its tracks requires two blue mana.
(Some cards’ costs have no color identity at all. Those spells are considered “colorless.”)
Each of those colors also represent different concentrated abilities specific to their identities. Blue is the color for spell-denial as well as psychic and reactionary spells. White is the color of small creatures — usually human — and mass effects, ala “Wrath of God” which destroys all creatures on the battlefield. Black is the color of necro-magic: great power at a steep cost. Red the color of volatility, destruction and direct damage and green is the color of rapid growth and big, massive creatures. Like, Godzilla big. Literally. Godzilla has its own Magic card.
Each of those colors and their spells have their own sense of flavor and they are sometimes combined on certain cards. Each of the ten color pairings are associated with specifically-named “guilds.” Black and green are Golgari, white and black are Orzhov, red and blue are Izzet and so on. Vraska, Kaya and Ral are each Guildmasters of those respective guilds.
After the initial bout of action, the rest of the issue spends its time introducing other characters, some quite familiar to Magic players, into the narrative and setting up the guilds. It’s an effective and entertaining primer.
Jed MacKay’s dialogue is rich and does a fantastic job between exposition and action, keeping the tempo humming along. Ig Guara’s art’s greatest strength is in its vibrancy and motion. There is not one frame of this comic that doesn’t feel alive. There’s one panel showing Vraska’s anger at Kaya during an argument that’s quite imposing: Vraska’s glowing eyes framed by the shadow of her face. Kudos to Arianna Consonni for her excellent color work throughout both issues and especially in this small but potent frame.
Halfway through the issue, I remembered that I was reading a Magic comic book. I was so caught up by the storyline and action that I completely forgot that this is specifically about this property. Once the characters that I recognized started popping up at the roll call at the end of the issue, I realized that this isn’t just a fun Magic comic book, it’s a fun comic book with a very light touch.
If you enjoy fantasy comics and haven’t picked up this title yet, it’s only two issues in. Let it weave it’s — ahem — spell on you.
Magic #2 released May 12, 2021 by Boom! Studios, written by Jed MacKay, art by Ig Guara, colored by Arianna Consonni (Arancia Studios), lettered by Ed Dukeshire, designed by Scott Newman, assistant editor Kenzie Rzonca, editor Amanda LaFranco, supervising editor Bryce Carlson, cover by Matteo Scalera with colors by Moreno Dinisio, variant cover by Kael Ngu, hidden planeswalker variant covers by Daniel Warren Johnson with colors by Mike Spicer, unlockable variant cover by Matteo Scalera, character design variant cover by Ig Guara with colors by Tamra Bonvillain