Books of Magic #1 (Vertigo)
Vertigo’s relaunch continues on with Books of Magic. The continuation of Neil Gaiman’s “Harry Potter before there was Harry Potter” story, the new Books of Magic finds Timothy Hunter still trying to figure out the magical abilities he’s destined to have, and also deal with the death of his mother. It’s an intriguing start to be sure, but Kat Howard and Tom Fowler’s opening issue relies on a lot of background knowledge about the original Books of Magic to make it really enjoyable for new readers.
Timothy Hunter just tries to get through the school day, but he’s constantly getting into fights and causing disruptions. Ever since his mother passed away, Timothy can’t seem to come to grips with his loss, and he’s acting out in ways that are distracting him not only from his school work, but from his magic as well. Destined to become the most powerful magician in the universe, Hunter struggles with the most basic Magic tasks. Will he ever get to realize his full magic potential?
That’s the main gist of Kat Howard’s script, and that’s really all this book has going for it. As someone who never read the original Books of Magic story, I was still able to pick up on the main beats of the story, but Howard’s script doesn’t give me enough of a reason to care. So far the only things I know about Timothy Hunter are that he’s supposed to be a great magician, lost his mom, and looks a lot like Harry Potter. That’s it.
Tom Fowler is well known for the insane art of Doom Patrol, so it’s a little underwhelming to see him on this series, where the opening issue is really just Timothy Hunter in school, dealing with teachers and other students. I’m sure we’ll get some truly insane and wild art from him later on, but for now the script isn’t playing to Fowler’s full potential. The art looks great, don’t get me wrong, but it’s very tame compared to what we’ve seen from his other work.
Books of Magic‘s new #1 didn’t do enough to get me interested in the rest of the series, but I’m sure there are legions of Neil Gaiman fans who will eat this up. At the very least though, it has piqued my interest in the original series, so maybe I’ll give that a shot the next time I want to dive into the backlog.