"Gutter Magic is a four-issue series written by Comics Experience alum and Workshop member Rich Douek and illustrated by Brett Barkley. Set in a world where World War II was fought with magic instead of technology, we meet our hero—the heir to a powerful magical dynasty who can’t cast a spell to save his life—as he sets out on a quest to find his family’s birthright and restore their honor.”
Writer: Rich Douek
Illustrator: Brett Barkley
Colorist: Jules Rivera
Letterer: Nic J. Shaw
Variant Cover: Gabriel Iumazark
Gutter Magic is an enjoyable read, and Rich Douek’s writing is solid. He is good at conveying the narrative of this young would-be-mage attempting to restore his power. A minor complaint that I have is very little was done to provide me the details. What year is this? How does magic work? What city is this? Is this set in the U.S, or another country? I’m not really certain, but these are things that can very well be explained later. Perhaps my queries regarding the location are indicative of my ignorance of skylines.
Brett Barkley’s Illustrations are on point as well, and the characters look more than a little gritty. One thing he does exceptionally well is draw the awesome “wiggly fingers inside a Runic circle” used to indicate the casting of spells. I also enjoyed his line work and the distinction his characters have from one another. At the end of the day it is his illustrations and art style that sells the mythical creatures and brings the fantasy book.
Jules Rivera's coloring is outstanding and really makes the book shine. From the dingy grey streets to the vibrant colors of the magical displays, he paints a stunning portrait of this bleak world of magical wonders.
Where Nic J. Shaw's colors really shine is the magic the words sorcerer's shout to cast their spells. Looking much like a cross between Celtic runes and hieroglyphs, it adds a much needed authenticity to the sorcery presented far beyond what can be conveyed with nonsensical words.
In closing and after some debate, the ambiguity of the setting and year lend itself well to the mystery of Gutter Magic. I find myself looking forward to the next chapter of Cinder and Blacktooth's quest to restore Cinder's magical might and redeem his name in the face of the wizardly rulers of this complex world. What fate does The Morgue have in store for our desperate heroes? Could there be a Nazi wizard lurking somewhere in the shadows of this megalopolis? I, for one, can't wait to find out.