Review: ‘The Magic Order 4’ #3 Will Cast A Spell On You
by Olly MacNamee
With Albany’s infiltration of the Magic Order all but complete, ‘The Magic Order 4’ #3 decides to hit pause and offer up the origin story of old man Edgar. And, what a story it is. A Greek Tragedy for the modern age sprawling across two very different worlds.
The Magic Order 4 #3 has to be my favourite issue of the series thus far, as it takes the reader in a trip to the fantasy world of Kolthur and reveals a good deal about the entrapped Uncle Edgar’s past. And what a past it is. A story of a childhood tarnished by the most intense and insane parental pressures, that could only but have severe long-lasting effects on the young lad. And, as the young Edgar grew older, these great expectations were internalised and spewed forth in adulthood as his own selfish and impossible expectations. But, just as the reader may feel some sympathy with this would-be genius, writer Mark Millar pulls the (magic) carpet from under us and cast him as the villain of the piece. A man’s who’s arrogant and self-entitlement sees any past childhood trauma and tragedy put to one side because of his later petulant actions.
And so we begin to understand why, for all these years, the Wizard King of Kolthur has been enchantedly entrapped in a magic painting and Moonstone Castle for all eternity. And yet… are we about to witness a redemptive arc for this seemingly irredeemable figure? Does the tragedy of his past life give us enough to forgive if, as I suspect, Edgar rides to the Magic Order’s salvation?
At its heart, this is an origin story a long time in coming, and who doesn’t like an origin story, right? Especially one with such a tragic figure at its core. Much like the abdicated titular character of Shakespeare’s King Lear – from which Millar borrows so many of his characters’ names – is there enough in this once arrogant tyrant to redeem him? Will he be the Magic Order’s very own Darth Vader, I wonder?
Helping land this story so effectively is the flawless art of Dike Ruan, who dramatically and powerfully portray’s Edgar’s colourful life. It’s his portrayal of a young Edgar that will pull at your heart strings, as he is surrounded by such horrendous parents, and it is also his skills that depict an enraged and entitled Edgar lashing out like a spoilt child who can’t get his own way, as though the world – two worlds in fact – owned him a living. And, in between all of this, he is tasked with contrasting the mundane with the magical and brutally fantastical. With the world of Kolthur given a glossy coat of further foreboding courtesy of the blood-red colourings and painting-like qualities of Giovanna Niro’s colour work. It’s because of the rendering of these scenes as watercolours that adds to the sense of Kolthur being akin to the magical worlds of Tolkien, Moorcock and Howard, who’s won fantasy worlds have been beautifully imagined in paintings for decades now. And by some of the greatest fantasy artist ever to put paint to canvas. As such, there is a timeless classicism to Kolthur that precociously but perfectly evokes these other more famous worlds.
I was totally smitten by this issue’s storytelling thanks to the revelations and renderings within its pages. The Magic Order is becoming a sprawling, sensational saga with this newest issue greatly adding to the world building Millar is crafting. And this is but the half-way point. With the revelation of who now rules Kolthur left until the end, Millar shows once more that he knows how to reel the reader in and smack them between the eyes with shock and awe. Now, as TV illusionist Paul Daniels would quip, that’s magic.
The Magic Order 4 #3 is out now from Image Comics