It’s no secret that, for the last couple months, DC has owned the comics narrative. If you were talking mainstream, monthly comic books, you were talking about the New 52 – and with good reason! But if there’s something I regret about how focused I was on DC’s new offerings (and there’s very little I regret about it), it’s this: books like Marvel’s recently concluded Mystic fell slightly by the wayside. And believe me when I say, G. Willow Wilson’s take on Mystic is one of the strongest mini-series’ released this year.
Hyperion is a world with a steep divide between the haves and the have-nots – magic. While the nobles of the world have mystic powers and bizarre steam-punk inspired servants, the peasants have nothing. All that begins to change when two young orphans, cynical Giselle and dreamer Genevieve, are kicked out of their homes and forced to live on the street. Giselle gets taken in by the palace and becomes the first peasant ever to learn the Noble Arts; Genevieve gets swept up in the call for revolution among the lower class, her shattered dreams and betrayal by Giselle hardening her. But unbeknownst to most in the world, their cushy lives are about to come to an end as the source of all magic may be dying.
I’ve talked before about how strong the art team is, but it bears repeating: David and Alvaro Lopez are turning in fantastic work on this title, creating distinct characters, elaborate fashions and an ornate, lovely fantasy setting. Colorist Nathan Fairbairn is also doing an exceptional job, his soft color palate giving the book a unique, memorable look. The book has little by way of action, but the artists nonetheless manage to craft a dynamic, exciting book.
It isn’t flawless, unfortunately. Mystic #4, the final issue of the mini-series, has too many loose narrative threads coming into it, and without a super-sized finale, no way to tie them neatly together. Some conflicts – like that between Felice and Giselle – are given extremely short shrift, while the dramatic changes Genevieve has gone through during the series aren’t fully believable. Similarly, the aftermath of the revolution is given no page-time at all, despite the fact that they do actually win their major battle here. Wilson’s previous issues had room to breathe and were the stronger for it; Mystic #4, unfortunately, is jam-packed with incident, but lacks the heart of the opening issues.
Overall, I’d call Marvel’s recent experiments with their CrossGen aquisitions a success. Though Mike Carey’s Sigil: Out of Time was a disappointment, Mark Waid and Jackson Guice’s Ruse: The Victorian Guide to Murder was a fantastic read, witty, brief and thrilling. But believe me when I say, it has nothing on Mystic: The Tenth Apprentice. Gorgeously illustrated, with deep, accessible characters and an intriguing fantasy world, G. Willow Wilson and her art team have crafted a near-perfect young adult fantasy comic. I can’t wait for more.
– Cal C.