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Recent Graphic Novels: Mystic Arcana - Synchronicity swirls and other foolishness

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January 23rd, 2008

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02:46 pm - Recent Graphic Novels: Mystic Arcana
Because I found a new copy of selling on ebay for shockingly little money, I picked up to new graphic novel – Mystic Arcana from Marvel. I read it yesterday and quite enjoyed it.

I like supernatural comics, and for the last 20 years DC has been the undisputed champion of supernatural comics – starting with Alan Moore's amazing run of Swamp Thing and continuing on to the various Vertigo comics lines, it done some pretty amazing supernatural comics. However, they have also often been exceptionally grim. Even in their non-Vertigo comics, the supernatural in DC is a deeply unpleasant place to be. If you are a member magician in DC, the three essentials seem to be a good life insurance policy for your imminent and horrible demise, carrying around lots of morphine for the same purpose, and owning a nice black suit for all the funerals you'll be going to. Regular DC supers like Hal Jordan, Oliver Queen, and even Jason Todd end up dying and coming back to life – DC magicians die and stay dead, and they die a lot – Zatanna and John Constantine are pretty much the only regular survivors.

Recently DC started a new supernatural team comic – Shadowpact. However, it proved to be dreadful, showing that the allegedly talented Bill Willingham is not merely a serious misogynist; he can also be an amazing talentless hack.

So, feeling annoyed by that comic and by the general grimness of the DC supernatural world, I was interested by what Marvel might be up to. Back in the 1970s and early 1980s, they did some interesting stuff with Doctor Strange, but since then supernatural comics in Marvel have mostly consisted of force beam battles and other stuff that makes the supernatural in Marvel almost indistinguishable from any other form of super powers. Also, Marvel demons tend to be things with horns tails and pitchforks, rather than the fascinating creepiness found in DC. However, its also always been considerably less grim.

I recently watched the Doctor Strange: The Sorcerer Supreme movie. It was quite fun and also impressive in how much it resembled Exalted set in the modern day, I could actually name a few of the Charms being used. Then, I heard about Mystic Arcana. The fact that it was all done under the creative direction of David Sexton, who normally designs and draws Tarot Cards.

The first half of the book consists of 4 comics, each about a different Marvel supernatural character – Magik, The Black Knight, The Scarlet Witch, and Sister Grimm, who symbolize Air, Earth, Water, and Fire, with an overarching frame story of a magician learning about them and trying to collect four mystic artifacts that are also elementally attuned. The 2nd half consists of two parts – The Marvel Tarot – a very nice art book of Tarot images and collages relating to the Marvel supernatural world that is both carefully done and fascinating, and a useful and fun Marvel handbook: The Book of Marvel Magic, which describes most of the minor Marvel supernatural characters and a few of the major ones.

Overall, it's a nice book, and from my PoV one of the nicest things about is the fact that the ending of the frame story indicates we may be getting a new Marvel supernatural comics, and I'd definitely like that if it's as good as the stories in this book.
Current Mood: pleasedpleased

(3 comments | Leave a comment)


[User Picture]
Date:January 24th, 2008 03:33 am (UTC)
Strange: Beginnings and Endings, scripted by J. Michael Straczynski, was excellent. The Marvel Tarot and The Book of Marvel Magic are also quite fun.
[User Picture]
Date:January 24th, 2008 05:05 am (UTC)
Agreed with the last two (they were included in Mystic Arcana). Strange: Beginnings and Endings looks nice, I have a bid in on a copy on ebay.
[User Picture]
Date:January 24th, 2008 05:16 am (UTC)
If you don't win it, buy a copy from your local comic shop. It's excellent.

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