The Magic Order #1
Writer: Mark Millar
Artists: Olver Coipel
Netflix is everywhere. It’s in every home, every smartphone, and now fans of Mark Millar will find it on their local comic shop’s stands. The Magic Order is Netflix’s debut comic, and despite some stumbling, mostly succeeds as a debut.
The Magic Order tells the story of a family in a secret magic circle. This circle supposedly has some of the strongest wizards on Earth, who are now being targeted by an unknown group of magicians. The Magic Order feels like an adult Harry Potter, but without the exceptional worldbuilding. Instead, there is sex, alcoholism, and shock-value. The concept of members of an exclusive organization being killed off feels generic, and there isn’t too much in this debut issue to really set it apart. Every setpiece has already been seen before. We have elite organizations rivaled by some shady people. There’s a master who refuses to come back to the circle despite being the best magic-user there is. There is PTSD due to not being able to save the one you love despite all of your power. All of this is familiar, and Millar doesn’t really offer too much that we haven’t seen before.
Fortunately, what The Magic Order lacks in originality, it makes up for with an interesting mystery. The reader and the members of the circle are mostly kept in the dark as to why their order is being targeted. There is a likely culprit introduced, but it feels like there is something much more sinister in the background. The Magic Order will succeed if it can maintain this sense of mystery, while steadily rewarding the reader piece by piece over the next few issues.
The Magic Order also deserves praise for establishing an interesting world of magic. There are all kinds of magic in this issue, from simple tricks like illusions and escape artists, to more sinister acts like mind control and body shifting. Those that love magic tricks will get a kick out of the few magical moments here, but it feels like most of these are once again just used for shock value. For the most part, the magic used is inconsequential to the actual progression of the story.
The absolute highlight of this debut is the gorgeous work of Oliver Coipel and Dave Stewart. Coipel’s pencils are clean and fit the tone of the series perfectly. Stewart’s colors bring everything together. The panels pull the reader into a gritty world with dark colors and brutal shading. Moments that are supposed to be unnerving are chilling due to the use of dark colors and cool blues. The world of The Magic Order is a beautiful kind of ugly, with and everything feels it’s just a touch removed from reality. A few facial expressions look off, especially when characters are shouting, but this is mostly just nitpicking.
Despite everything feeling familiar, The Magic Order #1 is a still an enjoyable debut issue. There are many panels that scream “Millar made this,” but this is mostly toned down from his previous works. It’s unfortunate that this book has so many flaws because the pieces that click well really go together. Still, fans of Millar or magic will find a lot to like about this issue, just be prepared to be disappointed by some of the execution.
The Magic Order #1
It's unfortunate that this book has so many flaws because the pieces that click well really go together. Still, fans of Millar or magic will find a lot to like about this issue, just be prepared to be disappointed by some of the execution.