Review: Mage The Hero Denied #1

IMAGE COMICS – @ImageComics


COLORS: Brennan Wagner

LETTERS: Dave Lanphear

28pp, Color, $3.99 U.S. (August 2017)

Rated “T/ Teen Plus”

Chapter 01 “What's Past Is Prologue”

Written and drawn by Matt Wagner (Grendel), Mage is a fantasy comic book series with superhero elements.  The series will be comprised of three volumes, each running 15 issues.  The first was Mage: The Hero Discovered, which was published by defunct publisher, Comico the Comic Company, from 1984 to 1986.  The second was Mage: The Hero Defined, which was published from 1997 to 1999 by Image Comics.

Image Comics recently began publication of the third and final volume, Mage: The Hero Denied.  It is written and drawn by Matt Wagner; colored by Brennan Wagner; and lettered by Dave Lanphear.

The Hero Discovered introduced Kevin Matchstick, an alienated young man who meets a wizard called Mirth.  Kevin discovers that he has superhuman abilities and that a magic baseball bat wielded by a friend actually belongs to him.  That bat is Excalibur, and Kevin represents King Arthur.

The Hero Defined takes place several years later and finds Kevin fighting supernatural menaces in the company of other heroes.  Kevin discovers that he has misunderstood his mission and that he represents more than one mythical hero.  Kevin is also Gilgamesh, and he initially does not realize that his new mage/mentor is an old tramp named Wally Ut whom Kevin often chooses to dismiss as a crazy old annoyance.  Kevin also meets his future wife.

Mage, Book Three: The Hero Denied #1 (“What's Past Is Prologue”) finds Kevin Matchstick living in suburban splendor with his wife Magda; son, Hugo; and preschool daughter, Miranda.  It has been years since his last adventure combating the forces of dark magic.  Now, some dark magic ruffians have found him and so has a powerful adversary.

It is good to have Mage back.  I find that The Hero Denied seems more like The Hero Discovered than it does as The Hero Defined – at least after one issue.  Everything about it, the shimmering, rich colors; the structure of the plot; the settings; and the villains:  all recall the spirit of the original series.  That's what I want; nothing against The Hero Defined, but the original Mage is still close to my heart.  It was one of the first independent comic books that I ever read.  It was also one of the first magical fantasy comic books I had ever seen.  In fact, the original seemed infused with magic.

So we are in the very early stages of The Hero Denied, but this feels right.  It is a call home to the foundation of Mage, so I'm calling Mage fans back to this series.  Since this is the first issue, I'll be a bit conservative with my grade


8 out of 10

Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux a.k.a. "I Reads You"

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