Magic is tricky.
One of the biggest issues I have with stories that involve magic is that, if you’re not careful you’ll open your writing up to all kinds of terrible paradoxes, loopholes, and deus ex machina that do more to distract than entertain, and destroy the one thing that a fictional world needs to survive, credibility.
See, that’s the issue with magic stories, and the main reason I am usually not a huge fan of them, is that magic needs laws and rules, while at the same time having the power to do seemingly anything. Magic in stories rarely has a cost, usually has a low barrier to entry, and is almost exclusively the purview of ancient men and tweenage children. I know a lot of that is the result of the target demographic of a lot of these stories but, for my money, it just seems like magic is a way for authors to tell fantastical stories in the laziest way possible, and so generally I tend to avoid that kind of tale.
So I was pretty hesitant to check out this week’s book, and if you’re like me, it probably will be an easy pass if you just see it on a store shelf. Another magic related comic, you’ll no doubt think. Why should I bother? Is it even worth it?
Well I am happy to announce that this week’s book, Monomyth from Mad Cave Comics is definitely worth a look. Mixing classical magical archetypes with the violent magical realism of works like The Magic Order, author David Hazan and artist Cecilia Lo Valvo have created something special with this brutal tale of broken people thrown into a world of magic, chaos and blood.
Here’s the blurb: Magic is all but extinct. When the last ailing wizard casts a final desperate spell to summon the descendants of ancient bloodlines to a school for magic now in disrepair…those chosen ones find a horror of the likes they’ve never experienced. They will have to confront the deepest parts of themselves, their tragic pasts, and defeat each other to survive the ordeal.
Monomyth is an all-new mini-series from the mind of David Hazan (Nottingham).
A lot to unpack here in the first issue so let’s dive in quick. If you were a fan of Hazan’s previous series Nottingham, a dark and violent retelling of the Robin Hood myth, then you know that he has a deep love of classic storytelling and mythology, so a modern take on the tale of Merlin seems right up his alley.
Not to say that this wizard is Merlin, since he is never given a name in this first issue, but all the classic tropes are there. The long beard, the magic powers, and, of course, a history washed in blood.
Merlin the wizard is a fascinating mythological character. I took a couple of courses in medieval Arthurian and British folklore, and the original tales of Merlin were much, much better that the sanitized tales we would eventually get from Disney. Merlin was the offspring of a nun and a demon, had few qualms about getting his hands dirty, and basically was willing to sacrifice anyone and anything to achieve his goals.
Seeing that kind of character brought to life in this comic would be a fantastic treat, and is something that I hope we see in Monomyth. If you have read any of Once and Future you know what I am talking about.
Regardless of his origins, this wizard has reached the end of his life and is desperate to find his replacement; however, to his surprise, he discovers that there are actually multiple people in the world that have the spark of magic within them. Unsure about what this means, he summons all seven of them to his castle to train, which results in chaos and death, that that’s only the first issue.
There is a lot of love in Monomyth. Cecilia La Valvo’s art is perfect for this story, with heavy shading and bleeding lines that lend the story an air of torment and horror that it really needs to succeed. This isn’t a cute and fun world of magic, but a place of genuine horror and death, where anything could kill you, and anyone could die at any time. There is a brutality to her art in the book that helps keep you slightly disoriented and uneasy, and that goes a long way towards putting you into the mindset of these characters.
And speaking of those characters, there is a lot going on here with them. All seven of these figures are snatched moments away from death or violence, and then immediately plunged into the horror of the world of magic. There isn’t a moment to catch your breath anywhere in this first issue, and while that does keep the story flowing, I do hope that we have some more down time in the future so that we can really dive into the backstory of these fascinating individuals.
Blood, magic, brutality, and classical mythology. Monomyth #1 is a solid first read and worth you time and money. Let your LCS know that you’re interested, and pick up the first issue when it arrives in May.
That’s it for me this week folks! I’m off to C2E2 next weekend, so look forward to my coverage of the show starting later this week!
Until next time, Stay Safe.