Device: dell axim
: Magic: The Gathering
(Click to go to the release post)Writer(s)
: Matt Forbeck
(Click to see other books from this writer released on this site)Review source
: Walter Richardson
(Don't click it, read the review here...
) " It's fun, exciting, and flat-out looks great."Review: Magic: The Gathering #1
What is probably the most popular collectible card game in the world gets an ongoing from the rising force that is IDW. Follow the cut for my opinions on the issue.More info
I'm always interested in checking out new titles from licensed properties, particularly those I'm not completely familiar with. In an industry dominated by properties primarily owned by one of two companies, it's always intriguing to see how other, non-creator-owned properties compete, especially when it comes to nabbing that mythical reader everyone is talking about, usually lured in by something other than the comic itself. This makes sense with a property like Magic: The Gathering, which was a card game first, but it's interesting how the reverse is usually true with superhero comics, where the reader is drawn into the comics after seeing the movies. Goes to show the level of exposure for different mediums. But I digress.
I have no shame in admitting that I played Magic when I was in middle school. I'll even say that if it didn't cost an arm and a leg to play, like a lot of these collectible games, I might play a game or two every now and then, because it was pretty fun. That being said, my knowledge of the "lore" is minimal. By that, I mean I know the word "Planeswalker" has some kind of significance, and that's about it. Thankfully, though, that didn't matter with this first issue. To someone who knows nothing about Magic, this is just a regular fantasy comic. There's really nothing you need to know beyond what is given on the page; our main character is introduced, and we are given enough about our setting to understand what's going on. We don't need anything else. In fact, any more information would probably just complicate matters. As is, this comic is completely comfortable for new and — at least, I'm assuming — old readers alike.
It isn't just accessible, though; the first issue of Magic: The Gathering is a pretty good read. Writer Matt Forbeck gives us all the information we need while still keeping things exciting. The chase scene that the issue opens with is very well paced, and grabs the reader's attention right away. It isn't too short, it isn't too long, and when Dack, our protagonist, finally makes his escape, it's in a way that just grabs the reader's attention even more. The second, "recovery" scene is also put together well, serving as the first big info dump without necessarily slowing the narrative down; it may not be as hectic at the chase, but people are doing things while talking, rather than monologuing while motionless. The only scene that really slows thing down is the final flashback, and that's more due to Forbeck's script. As Dack "thinks" about what he's seeing, his voice intrudes too much on the scene. Really, nothing more is needed than what Forbeck has Dack narrate after the flashback. Still, to quote Meat Loaf, two out of three [scenes] 'aint bad. Forbeck's writing isn't anything astounding — a few cliches are used, such as the loathed "Plan B: Run" — but he has put together a pretty fun book.
What really impressed me with this comic was the art. Sure, there are quite a few licensed properties that have great artists attached — I'm quite excited for Becky Cloonan on Conan — but the odds seem somewhat stacked against finding great art. Not that it's always bad, but you'll often find young artists stretching their wings, not quite at the top of their talent yet. Not so with this book. Artist Martín Cóccolo has a style that's dynamic but smooth, reminding the reader of what big-name artists like Jim Lee might put out if they realized that their figures don't need to be jagged and rough in order to look appropriate for an action comic. His backgrounds are equally important; I hope Forbeck sets the rest of the story in more cities like the first one, because I could look at Cóccolo's arches and buttresses all day. The book's secret weapon, though, is colorist J. Edwin Stevens. Comics seem to have two extremes when it comes to coloring: Blinding and muddy. Stevens, however, has given the comic a look that could probably be best described as "warm." It isn't exactly a bright world, but it's textured with muted lights and shadows in a way that shifts with the story, rather than staying at a constant (which many other comics are guilty of). There's a great, painter-like quality to Stevens' coloring, and it pairs extremely well with Cóccolo's equally smooth pencils.
This book might not be one of the best on the stands, but I'd certainly recommend it to anyone who is into the fantasy genre, whether or not you've touched a Magic card in your life. It's fun, exciting, and flat-out looks great. My accolades to the entire team for proving my expectations quite wrong. Plus, it includes an exclusive variant card!
Written by Matt ForbeckPublisher
Illustrated by Martín Cóccolo
Colored by J. Edwin Stevens