Writer/Artist: Matt Wagner
Colors: Brennan Wagner
Letters: Dave Lanphear
Thirty-one years is a longtime to wait for anything but that’s how long Mage fans have been waiting for the concluding chapter of Matt Wagner’s magnum opus. I count myself amongst this group, as I was a fan of the original series all those years ago, as much as my twelve-year-old self could be. But in the years following the release of Mage: the Hero Discovered I really grew to love the series and what Matt Wagner had created with his modern interpretation of the Arthurian legend. I waited, impatiently, for the sequel but in 1997 Image comics released Mage: the Hero Defined and continued the adventures of Kevin Matchstick, the reincarnated Arthur Pendragon and his war against the monsters and evils of the world. Wagner promised the third and final volume soon after…. And here we are twenty-years later with the release of Mage: the Hero Denied #1.
Mage: the Hero Denied will conclude the story of Kevin Matchstick. Over the life of the series the readers have grown with Kevin, from the disgruntled twenty-something thrust into the world of magic and predestination to the forty-something father who seems more interested in hiding what he is then embracing his destiny. A lot has changed for Kevin since we last saw him. He’s now married, a father of two, and hiding out in the Pacific Northwest. Yet there is still evil in the world and that evil is very interested in ending Kevin’s life and lineage, which we see in the first half of the comic as Monsters come calling for Kevin and we see how formidable he still is even if he is ‘denying’ his heroic life.
Fans of Mage will rejoice with the return of Kevin. To me it felt like an old friend I hadn’t seen in a long time as there was a little awkwardness at first but after a few moments it felt like old times. Unfortunately those old times are a must for anyone coming to the series brand new as much of the second half of the issue, especially the reveal of the villain of the tale, who is linked to the previous volumes and new readers may be a bit lost. As the optimist that I am it can also be seen as a chance for new readers to go back and experience a classic independent comic, then new readers will be excited as me to see where Wagner takes this tale.
I’m happy that Matt Wagner has returned to his, arguably, most important work and finally giving us this final chapter. His artwork is still magnificent, and unlike many comics, it is wonderful that Kevin has aged in relative real time and has lost a little on the top and put a bit on in the midsection from those early days in Mage: the Hero Discovered. Kevin’s supporting players have always played an important role in any Mage story and I have no doubt that the family dynamic will be an interesting twist and lend itself heavily to the story and I am curious as to how being a father is going to impact Kevin’s role as a hero.
Verdict: longtime fans of Mage will no doubt buy the title without a thought but hopefully new readers will jump into Matt Wagner’s epic tale. In my opinion Mage the Hero Denied #1 sets the stage for what will no doubt be another wild ride of good vs. evil and is a Buy. And just as many longtime fans are wondering I to want to know what the color of magic will be this go around.