Comic Review: Magik: Illyana and Storm

Published: December, 1983 – March, 1984
Written by: Chris Claremont
Art by: John Buscema, Ron Frenz, Sal Buscema, Tom Palmer, Glynis Wein

Marvel Comics, 128 Pages

Review:

Illyana Rasputin a.k.a. Magik is one of my favorite Marvel characters of all-time. I loved her in The New Mutants and in her many appearances since. I never read her origin story, however.

Before getting my hands on this series, I read The Uncanny X-Men #160, which bookends this miniseries. At the start of that story, Illyana is a small child. She gets caught on the other side of a portal. When the X-Men pull her through, just seconds later, she is seven years older. This miniseries fills in that seven year gap and shows how she went from just being a young mutant with teleportation abilities to a powerful sorceress with a magic sword.

Chris Claremont did a damn fine job with the story and each of the four issues were great from cover to cover. This also got away from standard Marvel fare and tapped into a tone and style that was much more in tune with hardcore fantasy fans of the ’80s.

This looks and feels like a comic set in the Dungeons & Dragons universe, which was at a peak in popularity at the time. In fact, maybe I never got my hands on this comic because my mum was pretty adamant that playing Dungeons & Dragons with my cousins was going to punch my ticket to Hell. She’s less crazy about that stuff now and weirdly, she’s a big Harry Potter fan.

Anyway, this story kind of reminded me of how I felt when I used to watch the Dungeons & Dragons cartoon on Saturday mornings when my mum wasn’t paying attention to what I had on TV.

This story is pretty damn dark. While it is a coming of age story and very much written for a teen audience, Claremont’s greatness transcends that demographic and I think that most people that love ’80s X-Men or ’80s D&D will enjoy the hell out of this.

It does some really disturbing things to some of the core X-Men characters too. Kitty Pryde is transformed into a werecat creature and then dies, Storm is a badass sorceress and then dies, Nightcrawler is a demon slave and then dies, Colossus, who is Magik’s older brother, is found with his metal shell ripped open and yes… he’s also dead.

Illyana has to figure out her predicament, battle a powerful warlock, take his power and also fight several other demonic and magical forces. Ultimately, she becomes a demon goddess of the awesomest caliber. She may also have had the most screwed up childhood of any X-Men character that wasn’t present at the Holocaust.

I f’n loved this story. It also motivated me to get back into those early New Mutants tales, as it’s been a really long time since I’ve read them.

Rating: 8.75/10
Pairs well with: The Uncanny X-Men #160, which bookends this story and the early New Mutants stuff featuring Magik as a member of the team.

Book Review: ‘How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way’ by Stan Lee & John Buscema

This book was a prized possession for me around the time I was ten or eleven. I think, at the time, that it was the only book I could find on the subject in a small Florida town in the days before the Internet and Amazon.

I once had aspirations of being a comic book artist though. I succeeded in my middle school years and put out some books after starting a company with some friends. We successfully sold a few dozen comics (per release) to other kids but being twelve in an era without Internet meant that you had to pound the pavement and things like school and chores often times got in the way.

This book taught me a lot at the time though.

If it wasn’t for this book, I wouldn’t have had as good of a grasp on drawing dynamic motion, shadowing, light and understanding perspective.

In some regard, this book is now dated but that is mostly due to the art style and some of the old school techniques that this teaches. It’s a very straight to basics book that came out before the digital era. Therefore, it doesn’t touch on modern techniques like creating comic book art digitally.

Still, this is a great starting point for anyone as the core things that this teaches are still necessary today.

In fact, many comic book pros could benefit from the lessons here as dynamic motion seems to be dying and perspective has been a bit wonky in several of the mainstream titles I’ve looked at lately.

If someone is serious about becoming a comic book artist and learning the craft, this should definitely have a place in their library. There are more up to date books on the subject that have come out over the years though. I plan to review some of them in the future but I wanted to go back and give respect to this one first, the O.G. comic book art manual.

Rating: 8/10
Pairs well with: Writing and Illustrating the Graphic Novel, Framed Ink, Figure Drawing for Comics and Graphic Novels, Cartooning: The Head & Figure and Realistic Figure Drawing.