First things first: where the hell have you been, Marc Silvestri?
After leaving Marvel with the rest of the Superstar Artists to start Image Comics back in ‘92, you exploded onto the scene with The Darkness and Witchblade. The mere mention of those books are met with fond memories by some, but others remember them as prime examples of everything wrong with the trends of that decade, all T&A and grit with little substance. But whatever, they’re both books that have lasted the test of time, no one can argue that. And then you made Cyberforce and...well, you made Cyberforce too. But then something happened. Sure, you drew an issue of Batman here, an issue of X-Men there, but for the most part we thought you were out of the game. It seemed like you were more willing to sit back and play the executive-type at Top Cow Productions and place your intellectual properties in the hands of other writers and artists.
But all of a sudden here’s Rise of the Magi, a brand new ongoing series coming from Top Cow and Image. You’re even onboard as writer in addition to splitting art duties with some new blood, one Sumeyye Kesgin. Did the creative spark we all thought gone resurface? Is this the artistic equivalent of a midlife crisis? I apologize if I come off as overly critical. You own a comic book publishing company, Mr. Silvestri. You can do whatever the hell you want when it comes to comics. I guess I’m just having a bit of trouble understanding where this comic is coming from.
But anyway, onto the comic itself…
Rise of the Magi #1 has several major problems to overcome if it ever wants to rise above mediocrity. The art styles of the realistic Silvestri and the cartoony Kesgin don’t match up very well. Individually, Kesgin is a little bland at times, while Silvestri seems like he took a good finished sketch and penciled in a bunch of superfluous lines, overcomplicating the image and generally making certain scenes harder to parse than they would have been otherwise. The script could also use some work. As a debut issue, it both tries to do too much and accomplishes too little, especially for only twenty-two pages. Our hero, villain, and premise are all established, but everything’s so run of the mill I start to nod off just trying to type up a summary: the down-on-his-luck sorcerer Asa Stone must keep a magical artifact away from a power-hungry wizard who wants to use it to get rich or become a god or something, but also there’s a chance the artifact might destroy the universe and…and…
Wha? Nonono I’m awake, I’m awake.
Anyway, we’ve all seen good stories come out of seemingly standard set-ups before. But I feel that anything that could have made Magi different –the setting, the panel layouts, the characters – is nothing new. Rune looks like the less interesting parts of every fantasy movie you’ve ever seen except for flying carpets and some admittedly bitchin’ mounts (I give credit where credit is due), the layouts are paint-by-numbers, and Asa’s just another crestfallen teenager looking for adventure. Asa’s character in particular is frustrating because he’s not even in most of this issue. Less than half of it in fact if you don’t count the recap pages, and it’s kinda hard to invest in a character that’s not there. Apparently this would all be cleared up if you picked up issue zero on Free Comic Book Day, but in my opinion, zero issues should only serve to add to the primary story, not be required reading. So maybe Asa’s more interesting in that issue, but he’s certainly not here (what little we see of him, in any case).
And I’m really sorry I had to rip into this thing, Mr. Silvestri. I really am. You’re practically a legend in comics and I will always respect you. And for what it’s worth, the last page of the first issue and everything you’ve said about what this comic is leading to certainly has me intrigued. But if you’re going to get back in the game, you’ve got to lead with something a hell of a lot stronger than this.