Updated: Jan 26, 2021
Writer: Jakob Free
Illustrator: Will Tempest
WHAT IS IT?
Cities of Magick is an absolutely beautiful new fantasy adventure series! Set 150 years into a technology-free future, it is sort of like Mad Max...only in New York...and with magic!
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
For reasons that are not yet known, the Earth experienced an event called "The Nexus" which caused all technology on the planet to immediately and permanently stop functioning. 150 years later, magic has been (re)discovered and has become humanity's primary source of energy and political power.
The United States are not as united as they used to be, and the story follows a young traveler caught in the middle of a war between New York's defenders and an invading force from the Chi-City Conglomerate.
First off, look at that cover! My lord, is it beautiful. Better yet, the cover of Cities of Magick perfectly sets up the story and world that Tempest and Free are building. The art, the color and the logo all are perfect, and the cover has a Kamandi illustrated by Moebius sort of feel that immediately makes my imagination light up.
The setup. The first six pages of the book succinctly tell the story of how the current state of things came to be. There are still mysteries to be explained, but in broad terms, you know what went wrong, how humanity found magic, and how that discovery has changed the world in fundamental ways.
The world. I love Brandon Sanderson's books. Partly, this is because he creates such interesting and detailed magic systems and cultures. Free and Tempest have captured a bit of that same spark here, and it is easy to see that they spent a great deal of time thinking about how a society built on their particular kind of magic would function.
Everything? I will admit that this sort of book is right in my wheelhouse, as I have always been a fan of post-collapse stories where technology is lost and society is struggling to rebuild, or build something new. From A Canticle for Liebowitz to Planet of the Apes, to Mad Max, it's all good by me. This is only the first issue, and there is a lot of exploring to do. But its a great start. The story is fast-moving, the characters are interesting, the art is beautiful and the colors (by Brad Simpson and Tempest) are spectacular.
WHAT DOESN’T WORK?
The setup. Yeah, you saw that right. This is under "what works" too. It can be both!! While an extended prologue is an effective way to set the stage, it delays the introduction of the characters and conflict at the center of the issue, and heads don't start exploding until all the way on page seven! I think that they could have worked this info in more organically, and had more time for story.
Call me old fashioned, but characters should have names! I like the young drifter who seems to be lining up as our protagonist. He is an "analog" – a person who eschews magic and is searching through New York shops for artifacts when the fighting starts. I know he HAS a name, because it's on the Kickstarter page, but it's never given in the book itself.
WHY SHOULD I READ IT?
This feels like the start of something really interesting. There is a bit of a wild west feel tacked onto a culture that is "steampunk but with magic instead of steam." Cities of Magick has big ideas, fun characters, and looks spectacular!
WHAT DO I READ NEXT?
If you like the writing:
Suburban and Chicken Hawk by Jakob Free and George Kambadais
Kamandi, The Last Boy on Earth by Jack Kirby
A Canticle For Liebowitz by Walter Miller
If you like the art:
Halbard by Will Tempest
Blueberry by Moebius (if you can find it...)
East of West by Hickman and Dragotta
ABOUT THE CREATORS
Jakob Free – Writer
Has written a number of other comics, including Suburban and Chicken Hawk, World War Terminus, the Cycle and Rabbit Hole.
Currently studying game design at DePaul University
William Tempest – Illustrator
Has self-published numerous comics, including Larval State, Harsh Prospect, and Halberd
Served as the artist for Material, a four-issue series written by Aleš Kot that was published by Image Comics
Brad Simpson – Colorist
Served as colorist on this book for the "prologue" pages
Is a veteran colorist with credits for Dark Horse, Image and numerous other publishers
AndWorld Design– Letterer
Lettering & design studio founded by Deron Bennett
Studio has done work for Marvel, DC, and numerous other midsize and small publishers
HOW DO I BUY IT?
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