Looking at The Books of Magic – Chaos McKenzie
In the 1990s Vertigo ruled the roost (for the high art crowd), and all the best Vertigo books happened in a corner of the DC Universe known as Neil’s World (not really), and without watering down The Sandman stories there were works like The Books of Magic or much later Lucifer that played respectfully in the same sandbox, using characters and ideas as springboards for much larger tales (I hold great hope for a collection of the Black Orchid series that played beautifully in the same box). It was like the Chicago series of television shows, where characters flit between the narratives but never taint or tarnish the core essence of each individual show, not like the NCIS shows that have wildly different tones forced under the same umbrella.
Now Tim Hunter has always had a hard time of it, he bares a more than passing resemblance to Harry Potter, despite being about 12 years his senior. As the Harry Potter bandwagon (not judging, I was on it myself) grew indefinitely, Timothy Hunter and The Books of Magic had a lot of the wind sucked from its sails and it was really frustrating. They just stopped collecting the series, and then rebooted the monthly, TWICE even. It was a sad, uncertain time. But thankfully in today’s market that everything and anything should be collected for prosperity that means we are getting a second chance at this riveting series and to boot we’re getting it in one of the best designed book I’ve seen all year! This bibliophile is much satiated with this volume.
Timothy Hunter had a grand introduction by Neil Gaiman, and I’m sure many people wrinkled their noses at John Ney Rieber sweeping in to take over. Not only did Rieber grab hold of Tim, he also had full access to the sprawling cast of Shakespearian faeries reinvented in some of Gaiman’s most popular issues of Sandman. So The Books of Magic had a young magician with untapped wild power swung like a pendulum between the warring sides of Faerie. It is an incredible story and hopefully this time we will see all of it. From Titania’s ambition and Auberon’s despair, The Books of Magic really gets in close to the details of several Gaiman inventions (or reinventions) and it’s a worthy successor to anyone who shares a fondness for that time or just for those kind of urban fairy tale type stories that Vertigo used to do so well. There’s an appearances from Death, demons, and Angels, all the Vertigo regulars but also with the interesting twist of being teen centric while dealing with the horrific majesty inherent in the tale. And again, the design of this volume is amazing! The designer deserves a friendly pat on the back, at the very least. Plus its huge and only American cover price!
DC/Vertigo Comics – The Books Of Magic Book One
John Ney Rieber, writer. Peter Gross, Gary Amaro, Peter Snejbjerg, Dick Giordano (artists) w/ Consultation by Neil Gaiman and original covers by Charles Vess and John Bolton