Rise of the Magi is an interesting series. It teeters with this balance of perfectly harmless, action-fantasy elements and then has a few instances of darkness. But it’s not so serious that you feel like dismemberment is just around the corner, or some type of violent mishap. Even if Rise of the Magi #2 doesn’t hit the mark, it’s fun and may be perfect for a younger demographic.
Besty Gonia’s art is a bit of a mixed bag. Some of the panels display some wonderful use of colors and composition but her style and grittiness seems to be inconsistent. Throughout the book we have relatively cartoony characters to match some of the absurdity being written (say a command, lick a frog and it happens) but towards the end her art becomes rougher. She and colorist, Troy Peteri, use heavy blacks to showcase this portal anomaly that somehow turns whatever is close to it into a heaping mass of carcass and debris. For the most part, the art achieves what I believe Silvestri is going for; a fun time in a made up land.
One thing that is very admirable by the creative team is the pacing of all this. The plot seems to go at a break-neck speed as once our hero ends up in New York it’s a race to get to the next character…aaaaaand we are there. There isn’t much fodder in between and even if the gothic punk, street rat April might be a bit annoying she exhibits some good displays of humanity. Kind of, I guess.
Silvestri is responsible for some very important and popular comic work. I feel like this is a book that he is doing to have some fun. There aren’t any heavy themes here. No intense symbolism. I would say it’s an old 80’s fantasy movie in the same vein of Willow. There are some moments of intensity but for the most part, everything is done in good humor.
I’ve been on a personal quest for some dark fantasy books. From some back-issues of Conan to the most recent Rat Queens, my thirst for the genre has been leading a lot of my reading choices. Although Rise of the Magi doesn’t quite reach the level of quality that I am seeking, it is by no means a bad book. I think fans of Willow, Legend, even that Disney film Enchanted, may find this to be an enjoyable read. But if you are looking for a fantasy book of a darker nature, there are a lot more choices out there that will might be a better fit.