Matt Wagner's semi-autobiographical Arthurian epos is every bit as fresh and as eye-popping as it must have been a quarter of a century ago, when it first hit the shelves of newtsands and specialty stores. Our hero, Kevin Matchstick, is a skeptic and cynical young man. Upon meeting acuriously inquisitive but good-natured and clever unknown bum, he unexpectedly opens up to him. No wonder though, because that would be Mirth, the world mage, and he has come to awaken the power Kevin has always had inside him, because he's needed in a crucial moment of the everlasting struggle between good and evil. The Umbra Sprite and his offspawn, the five Grackleflints, born with piosonous spurs on their elbows, are after the Fisher king, whose death would greatly advance the powers of darkness. Kevin (maybe somewhat influenced by Donaldson's Thomas Covenant? Hard to tell...) jons the fight, aided by a young black girl named Edsel and the enigmatic ghost lawyer Sean Knight. The reborn Pendragon's growing pains (and oh, what pains they be!) are deftly narrated by Wagner's pen and pencil, as he slowly unfolds his craft and tale before our eyes. It's a beauty to watch this blooming, but already almost fully fledged talent flex his wings and take flight. The flawless pacing (and critics be damned: The pacing here is nothing short of perfect) drags along the reader, perfectly enmeshed in Kevin' own skepticism, as all pieces are quietly, amost pensively set on the chessboard: The Umbra Sprite's increasingly dangerous machinations, the suspense of the search for the Fisher King, Mirth's painstaking care in awakening Kevin's power and awareness, Kevin's own growth into this new role. Pretty much aganst his will, he becomes the natural born leader the Pendragon was, not without Wagner simultaneously giving us some funny and precious humourous moments, which will be melancholically appreciated as the series takes a turn toward the dark halfway through its run. By the second third we have our heroes going to the Umbra Sprite's very lair, lose one of their number to a dragon, Mirth going into hiding and coming back to save Kevin's life, and still slowly all moves forward to the conclusion of our hero metaphorical coming of age. The pacing Wagner has chosen for the Mage series has often been subject to critique. Honestly, these people most definitely never read a Bendis book, in which plot and dialogue are overblown and spread over 4 times the necessary space. Or they've never read Frank Miller's best work, where Wagner takes some of his cinematic layouts from. Wagner takes Miller's paneling into a slower and at the same time less fragmented pace. A lot happens in the book, it's just not much in the action sense and that is not a bad thing at all, as Mage is not an action book. Sure there are fights, but that's not the whole point. Wagner makes a beautiful job of fusing a few biographical elements and a lot of Arthurian lore and northern European mythology into a very contem
Published by Thriftbooks.com User , 13 years ago
The book was a great read. The quality of the book was like new. I needed to read this book for a class in college. I received the book within a good time frame from placing the order.
Even after all this time, magic is STILL green
Published by Thriftbooks.com User , 15 years ago
If you're a fan of comic books you might've heard of Matt Wagner. He is the creative force behind such very good stuff as Grendel: Devil By The Deed (Grendel (Graphic Novels)), Batman/Superman/Wonder Woman: Trinity, and the early SANDMAN MYSTERY THEATER. In MAGE he also gave us the world-weary Kevin Matchstick, the memorable World Mage, the street-savvy Edsel, the Grackleflints, Cromm Cruich - the Worm of the Mists, and that neat magic bat. MAGE is not only Matt Wagner's earliest published work but is also his most personal one. It's no secret that the physical appearance of Kevin Matchstick is patterned after Matt himself, and that MAGE: THE HERO DISCOVERED also serves as a personal allegory to Matt's own creative growth. MAGE: THE HERO DISCOVERED tells of a disillusioned young man named Kevin Matchstick who one day bumps into Mirth, the World Mage, the encounter of which leaves Kevin with newfound superhuman powers. Mirth begins to mentor the unwilling Kevin, to train him to combat the most malignant supernatural evil on earth, the Umbra Sprite. Yet, even the proof of Mirth's magical prowess and the constant barrage of otherworldly assaults find it hard to crack Kevin's skepticism and lack of faith and self-confidence. What will it take? For if Kevin Matchstick doesn't accept his destiny, then the insidious Umbra Sprite truimphs. And that's just no good. The entire 15 issue run of THE HERO DISCOVERED is collected in three volumes. So this one is Volume 3, which reprints #12-15, #15 of which is a doubled-sized issue and presents a cool foldout (gatefold) page. Volume 3 opens up with a mortally wounded Matchstick and his companions scampering to save him. Events continue to unfold, some achingly tragic, and it all climaxes in a full-out assault on the Umbra Sprite. But, before that happens, Kevin must once and for all put aside his doubts and face up to his responsibilites. Lastly, Volume 3 also offers the interlude story which has Kevin coming to the aid of a young lady in France. The story of Kevin Matchstick here is one of self-discovery and acceptance and the taking up of burdens. Matt Wagner tells this story using the devices of dark urban fantasy. Not a little does he also throw in elements of the King Arthur mythos. It all ends up as one very appealing stew. Can you tell that MAGE: THE HERO DISCOVERED was Matt's first published effort? Well, yes. The first few issues of MAGE were indicative of someone who's still new to the game, although even as early as then the story already had enough of that "something, something" to keep its audience craving more. But, yes, initially, the storytelling and especially the illustrations were a bit rough. Nowadays Matt Wagner is renowned as a top shelf talent in the biz, so it's not much of a surprise that the polish came on so quickly. Matt's artistic style is distinct, clean and semi-cartoony, a study in simple yet dynamic lines. It's not too long before glimmers of this began to pop up in MAGE, h
One of the best
Published by Thriftbooks.com User , 16 years ago
Ask any comic book geek to make a top ten list of the greatest comics of all time. You'll get the inevitable "Dark Knight Returns", "Watchmen", "Maus", "Sandman", but somewhere in there, Matt Wagner's Mage will make an appearance. From its somewhat clumsy beginnings to its amazing conclusion, Mage is a loveable shaggy dog of a story that has earned its place in the pantheon of great tales. Kevin Matchstick was an ordinary man who wanted nothing more than to mind his own business. During a stroll one night (under the influence?) Kevin stumbles upon a rather eccentric homeless man, and they engage in a brief philosophical debate over happiness. The man hints that Kevin's life may be destined for something greater, and then he disappears, leaving Kevin flustered and confused. Soon after, Kevin finds himself breaking up a mugging. The assailant is a mystical creature in disguise: a grackleflint. Kevin dispatches of him and calls for help from the police. When he returns home, the homeless man is there waiting for him. He introduces himself as Mirth, and becomes a bit of a spirit guide for Kevin the reluctant hero. Kevin finds himself in the middle of a great war. Under the guidance of their father the Umbra Sprite, the five grackleflint brothers are hunting down the Fisher King, the being who represents the force of light in the universe. It's up to Kevin to stop them from reaching their goal. He's joined in battle by Edsel, a young lady wielding a mystical baseball bat, and Sean, a ghost of a recently departed public defender. The Umbra Sprite throws everything he can at Kevin: ogres, dragons, and demonic armies of little RedCaps. Ultimately, Kevin must infiltrate the Umbra Sprite's lair at the Styx Casino and bring it down to finish the war. As he approaches his final destination, Kevin's friends disappear one by one, until he is left to face the challenge alone with the knowledge that he is the reincarnation of Arthur Pendragon, legendary king of England. Matt Wagner makes deft use of mythology and Gods in his retelling of the eternal story of the Pendragon. It's amazing to see the correlations he draws in our modern society. While the first few chapters tend to labor under the weight of the massive epic to come, once Wagner gets up to speed, it's a sight to behold, a gauntlet laid down for future generations of storytellers. The second installment of this epic, Mage: The Hero Defined was finished ten years after the completion of The Hero Discovered. Fans anxiously hope that the conclusion, Mage: The Hero Denied, doesn't take another ten years.
Probably one of the best works of comicdom ever.
Published by Thriftbooks.com User , 17 years ago
You ever have a book or story that you've read at a certain age or point in your life, and the ideas and concepts in that story stay with you forver? This is the one that did it for me. I've always been intrigued with the idea of the hero who does not want to be hero. Someone who has power thrust upon them but does not want it - and this story is why. A great read that will be just as good today as it was then as it will be 100 years from now.
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