Ever since the publication of the first Harry Potter book in 1997, the successful franchise has spanned across numerous mediums and has remained an ongoing influence for other creators, paving the way for a swath of young adult fiction in sci-fi and fantasy. In fact, JK Rowling’s Wizarding World is so evident in today’s culture that its influence even shines on Mark Millar’s latest Image comic The Magic Order.
More in the realm of mature adult fantasy, The Magic Order centers on a group of five families of wizards who have been keeping the world safe from supernatural problems for thousands of years. Beginning with the murder of one of their own, the Order is suspecting that Madame Albany and her clan are the culprits. It’s up to the Moonstone family to protect themselves from whomever is trying to murder them.
As it is usually the case with Millarworld, a lot of the comics from this creator-owned line are often built on their high concepts with the hope of being adapted to other mediums. The Magic Order is no exception, even if the premise itself isn’t all that original and in fact pretty much establishes its world, characters and the main narrative in the initial issue.
For most of this first volume that comprises of wizards that live secretly among the ordinary, Millar doesn’t deliver much in terms of mystery or surprises. Like I said, because he establishes everything in the first issue, Millar is just relying on the concept throughout all the issues and doesn’t bring anything new to this well-worn genre. That said, there is much to enjoy and that comes down to the characters, particularly the Moonstones.
The story focuses on this family – Leonard Moonstone and his three children, Cordelia, Regan and Gabriel. Are all flawed in their own way, and Millar writes some decent characterization to make this fractured family dynamic worth caring about. Cordelia, in particular, embodies the writer’s black sense of humor at its best as the black sheep of the family who doesn’t obey the rules, and in one hilarious sequence, traumatizes a group of kids about her grim backstory despite her job as a children’s entertainer/stage magician.
Considering that it’s more mature than Harry Potter in terms of sex and violence, there are a handful of pages where Millar shows off some inventive use of magic, especially when it comes to the graphic deaths that occur throughout. All of which is greatly visualized by artist Olivier Coipel, who (along with colorist Dave Stewart) come up with some great designs towards the wizards and their world, particularly the villains who may not be the most well-developed on a dramatic level, but characters such as the Venetian have a menacing premise.
Despite its well-worn concept that play like an “adult” spin on Rowling’s Wizarding World, Millar and Coipel craft an entertaining first volume with flawed but fun characters and stunning art.