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Gutter Magic #1 Review

After seeing movies (or reading the books) like Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings you’d think every wizard is a classy sort of character. Some are evil, some aren’t even clean, but none of them came from back alleys or… well, gutters. A new three part series from IDW seeks to end that generalization, but is it good?

Gutter Magic #1 (of 3) (IDW Publishing)

Similar to WWII the discovery of something new ended the war, but in the world of Gutter Magic, instead of an atomic bomb it was wizards. Wizards on both sides entered the battle ending the war, but created a whole new world in its wake.

Why does this book matter?

Did you read the premise above? That’s freaking cool! Plus there’s the added element of (like anything that changes things drastically) these wizards ending the war came at a price. The world isn’t necessarily better off with wizards.

Check out the Empire State building!

Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?

This comic book makes me believe we haven’t even hit the tip of the iceberg when it comes to magic in fiction. Writer Rich Douek and artist Brett Barkley have managed to introduce a wonderfully original and captivating world. It’s incredibly realized with plenty of detail in the characters, the world itself and the premise. Sure, there’s a bit of a steampunk vibe to the technology but it has a feel as if the world we knew in 1942 stopped evolving and magic took its place. That’s a cool combo.

The comic follows two protagonists named Cinder and Blacktooth—one is human and the other’s a goblin. Cinder comes from a line of wizards, but has lost it somehow. With the help of Blacktooth he steals from truly powerful wizards in order to get his rightful power back. Well so far we think it’s rightful! The story opens on them ransacking a wizard’s den only to get attacked in the process.

From there the story takes us to a bar and a market and both scenes include surprises. Characters are quickly introduced, but it never feels rushed since the world and the mysteries swirl around everything.

There is a chase sequence that Barkley nails in a double page spread that could be the best of the year. Like something out of Labyrinth the characters twist and turn up, down and around as a sentient street helps them out. It fills the story with wonderment and fun. To make it feel more real there’s plenty of detail in his lines. If you finish reading this book and don’t wonder how the heck the Empire State building got the way it did you’re not paying attention to Barkley’s great art.

It can’t be perfect can it?

There are so many characters introduced in this issue it’s hard to tell who matters and who we’ll even see again. This is unfortunately only a three issue series and at the pace in which it introduces things there’s no way we’ll have 100% of the questions this issue introduces answered.

If you’re nitpicking you might find some faces a little odd in the scratchy detail.


Is It Good?

There’s a certain brand of magic in this series and it doesn’t come from a wand: great storytelling.


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