Review: Rise of the Magi #1
RISE OF THE MAGI #1
story / cover A: MARC SILVESTRI
art / cover C: SUMEYYE KESGIN
cover B: STJEPAN SEJIC
cover D (Retailer Incentive): MARC SILVESTRI
MAY 21 / 32 PAGES / FC / T+ / $3.50
A small black sphere contains all the magic that exists past, present, and future. Without it, two worlds would not survive. The sphere has been protected for centuries by a spell that was believed unbreakable. Asa Stonethrow, a common man in the world of magic, discovers the spell has been breached and a small chip of the black sphere has been stolen!
Last month’s Free Comic Book Day haul was full of the standard superhero fare, mainstay stars like Deadpool, the T.M.N.T.’s, Hellboy, and the usual “free” event primers that are anything but free once you realize that you actual have to buy the event being primed. Through all the minutia and filler, however, I found a gem hidden in the rubble; a comic book that felt different and had the potential to be something great. While the FCBD issue #0 did a good job of establishing the characters and setting up the world of magic that is Marc Silvestri’s Rise of the Magi, issue #1 really sunk deep the overall hook of the story, and it’s a fantastic joy of a read.
To understand this title requires a little bit of background, which is nice since the premise in Rise of the Magi is really neat. Issue #1 opens on the strange, magical world of Rune and the Crystal City, which happens to be the resting place of a bowling ball sized black orb, that happens to contain all of the magic in the entire universe. The sheer power of this black orb is stressed throughout the issue, although I found it odd that a magical spell was being used for safekeeping the container holding all the magic in the world, but oh well. We’re also introduced to our hero, Asa Stonethrow – wannabe member of the magical army of Spellguard, teenage magic carpet repairman, and presumed savior of the universe – as well as a series of characters that help establish Asa as the underdog, as well as setup the overarching story being told. Raye Stone, Asa’s brother and Captain of the Spellguard, learns of the treacherous scheme of Commander Gore to bypass the protective spell and steal only a pebble of this black orb, with that small piece holding enough power to take over the universe. Asa, the free-spirited rebel that he is, and hidden by an invisibility spell, had already sneaked into the chamber holding the black orb of magical-uberness to take a peak at the relic, and was quickly caught in the fight for this speck or orb between the forces of Captain Stone and Commander Gore. As Gore begins to get the upper hand, the remaining Spellguard forces teleport Asa and the speck of orb away to safety, suggesting our hero is the only hope for the universe, followed by Asa showing up in – wait for it – Times Square New York!
Writer Marc Silvestri unabashedly throws readers into a magical world full of big concept ideas and fantastical people, places, and things. While he also depicts the characters as deep and interesting with only a few short pages dedicated to each, the story doesn’t suffer from it and the plot moves forward nicely. Silvestri also teases the main hook of this story and that awesome last page reveal throughout the FCBD issue and this issue #0 in a neat way. On the books’ update pages he makes science references, like the Big Bang and dark matter, as well as references to things like Star Wars, which all sort of twisted the hook of this fictional fantasy story and world existing next to our own. It appeared that Silvestri was simply making tongue-in-cheek jokes with these references, but with the reveal that our hero, Asa, is now in “our” world makes everything that much more important, and it’s a great way to approach a story. The art is a mixed-bag since there are two of them on lines. Sumeyye Kesgin’s art is adequate, and even shines in many areas, but I really want to see Silvestri take on more of the art in this title, because his work shined throughout. There’s a certain whimsy associated with his work, and it’s perfect for this kind of series.
My main problem with this issue was the artwork, and while it certainly was of good enough quality to not ruin the issue, I’d really like to see Kesgin take a few more risks, and/or Silvestri take on more of the workload. As great as the story, characters, and concepts are, Silvestri should be drawing this book. Did I mention I like the man’s work? And speaking of that story, as great as it’s been through the first two issues, and especially this issue #1, the last page reveal changes everything. It’ll be interesting to see if the quality can stay with such a dramatic change so very early on in the series, but my faith in the writer stirs confidence, and it takes nothing away from this first issue.
I love fantasy comic books a lot, but there just aren’t that many great ones on comic book shelves. I am so excited that I can say that there is, indeed, one more great fantasy comic on comic book shelves. It’s very early on in the series, but I’m sure the writer can keep up this pace, and it’s going to be fun to see Asa Stone take his place as the Magi…whatever the hell that is. Rise of the Magi is a high-concept fantasy tale but it reads like a character-driven adventure story, with great characters and an awesome adventure. Jump on this while it’s new, because you’ll be hearing a lot more about it in the coming months.
Story: 4.5 Out of 5
Art: 3.5 Out of 5
Overall: 4 Out of 5