Monday, 30 December 2013

The Books Of Magic, Book One

Warner Brothers publishes Harry Potter films and Tim Hunter comics. Potter and Hunter are British schoolboys with glasses and powerful magicians with owls. Neil Gaiman created Hunter for a four issue Prestige Format mini-series, The Books Of Magic, to define the place of magic in the DC Universe under the categories of past, present, future and the far lands, although this excludes extraterrestrial magic which had existed in the earlier, pre-Crisis, DC multiverse.

Hunter's mentors are the Phantom Stranger, Doctor Occult, John Constantine and Mister E, three well-established characters and one who, at about the same time, appeared in his own miniseries. Constantine tells Tim:

"...don't try to bite me. There are things in my blood stream you really don't want in your mouth."
- Neil Gaiman, The Invisible Labyrinth (New York, 1990), p. 10.

In his own title, John Constantine: Hellblazer, Constantine received a blood transfusion from the demon Nergal and prevented a cult's divine incarnation by contaminating their Mary.

Tim tells the four-man "Trenchcoat Brigade" (p. 5) that he believed in magic when he was a kid and sometimes wishes "...there was magic..." (p. 11). Gaiman tells us elsewhere that he believed in the Sandman when he was a child and swore that he would always remember.

The Stranger shows Tim the past by time traveling invisibly, mostly without interacting. They see:

the void;
the beginning;
the silver city, which the Stranger cannot approach (in Alan Moore's Secret Origins story, the Stranger was a neutral angel, cast out by both sides after the War in Heaven);
Lucifer falling;
six archangels;
the molten Earth;
Arion of Atlantis, who addresses Tim without seeing or hearing him because he knows by spells that he is there;
cave magic;
the Nile;
the Yellow River;
a werewolf;
the witch-queen;
Merlin, canny enough to see them;
Jason Blood;
medieval witchcraft;
the old religion in the forests and high places and beside the great stones;
Faerie leaving as science rises - a parallel with Poul Anderson's The Merman's Children;
Doctor Fate;
Zatara, who first appeared in Action Comics no 1, the same issue as Superman, and died at a seance led by Constantine in Alan Moore's Swamp Thing no 50;
Sargon the Sorcerer, who died at the same seance.

Listing the contents shows me that there is more in this one Book than I had realized.

No comments:

Post a Comment