Where does the time go? I can hardly believe that it’s been a year since I started doing Heroes & Villains as a weekly thing. Initially, I had planned a column retrospective where I would relive old glories and generally bask in my own greatness. Maybe a top 10 list of books I’ve really liked over the last year.
Thankfully, there’s a NEW comic to talk about so I’ll just have to save my self-congratulatory speeches for my friends and coworkers. Onward!
The thing I found most difficult about reviewing Excellence was not going right for the obvious “Excellence is EXCELLENT!” shortcut (which would look great on a collected trade edition, if anyone at Skybound is reading this). I usually try to hold myself to a higher standard when sitting down to type these things out, and while my shortcut is completely true, I need some space to impress upon you just how true it is.
Since I’ve been doing this gig for a little bit now I can safely say that I’ve written about dozens of comics. The driving force behind this column is for me to find something that’s new and exciting coming out that I can rave about. Avengers: Endgame is great and everything, but it’s made 2-point-whatever billion dollars and I’ve written about it for the last two weeks. The Avengers don’t have need anymore digital ink spilled at the moment. My mother knows about The Avengers; we won this one, guys.
Excellence is a great book, one that actually got me excited while reading. I’m not a grizzled, old reviewer that needs an act of god to get my needle to move. I love comics and I love seeing new books like this that swing for the fences, stick the landing, and other sports metaphors I would use if I weren’t such a hack. The point is, I really dig seeing comics that make full use of the medium, a medium that is entirely without limits. Comics are the only entertainment out there that doesn’t require a small army of computer programmers to produce an amazing spectacle.
So what’s it all about? From the Image website: “Spencer Dales was born into a world of magic. His father belongs to the Aegis, a secret society of black magicians ordered by their unseen masters to better the lives of others—those with greater potential—but never themselves. Now it’s time for Spencer to follow in his father’s footsteps, but all he sees is a broken system in need of someone with the wand and the will to change it.”
Cool, right? You may have noticed the “Magic” word in the above description and if Warner Bros. has anything to say about it you’re immediately supposed to think of ONE THING when magic is mentioned and I’m here to tell you, don’t. Don’t do it. Excellence is very much its own thing. The way magic has been portrayed in popular fiction in the last couple decades or so has gotten pretty stale and Excellence is a much needed shot in the arm.
The world building that goes on in the book is fresh, fascinating, and (if I were a betting man) destined to be turned on its head. The book establishes some very clear rules about how magic is used in this world and who can use it. Reading the rules will probably make any person in their right mind think, “That’s some B.S.” and there’s your conflict for the story. The rules are a “Chekhov’s Wand” of a sort; how long until each of them gets broken?
This book is definitely one you should pick up, share with others, Twitter, Instagram, whatever. I hope it reaches its intended audience, its unintended audience, maybe finds its way to the desk of a big shot Hollywood producer and gets turned into the next big TV show or event movie. It’s a damn cool book and I hope it’s around for a long time.
So, yeah, Excellence is excellent…and you can quote me on that.