The Bench Warder (Mage The Hero Denied #4)

Mage the Hero Denied #4
Writer: Matt Wagner
Artist: Matt Wagner
Cover Artist: Matt Wagner
Colorist: Brennan Wagner
Publisher: Image Comics

Fearing the inevitable battle would reach his family, Kevin has taken to the road to draw away his assailants. What he finds is not quite what he expected!

What You Need to Know:

Kevin Matchstick is the former protector of the Faerie Realm and the Umber Sprite. He has been retired after the defeat of his foe and been in a secluded Suburban neighborhood hiding these past seven years. He has a Beautiful wife Magda (a skilled Witch) and two young Children. He wields the powers of the Earth Mage to protect his family from recent attacks. He has managed to keep his powers hidden for a number of years because they attract monsters and the dreaded Grackelthorns!This is a continuation of the Mage saga, which had started in the 1980’s as a back up to the Grendel books. This is the third series of this title and has not been published in 12 years.

What You’ll Find Out:

Kevin does what any practical hero of the Realm would do in his situation. He sits and rests on a bench at a bus station, as he headed to the outskirts of town to engage his Enemies. Night Falls and we are quite surprised to see who it is exactly that was tracking him.

What Just Happened?

“Well, I’ve gotta say…You’re not exactly what I was Expecting.” Kevin tells the figure.She is a pale slender looking woman figure, with a sheer red shroud that covers the details of her pallid face. The gown flows to the ground like a crimson sheet that barely covers her female figure beneath. She has a frightening and ethereal beauty to her. This is “Ereshkigal, the mistress of the Underworld”. Kevin asks if she is Death (The Entity) and she explains that “O Man Death is far older and infinitely more powerful than myself. I keep one of his Houses.”

Kevin is caught off guard when she calls him “O Sumerian”. He was accustomed to the term the Pendragon or the Mage, but the figure reveals that she has a vendetta against him for  he is “an Avatar of the Babylonian Gilgamesh.” *(Gilgamesh was a Sumerian Demi-god that was one of the first Legends or Folktales ever written.) Kevin is sure that she has the wrong guy, but Ereshkigal is not so easily swayed. She explains, that even though her ancient civilization was destroyed ages ago, Time has no meaning to one such as her, and promptly shows why she keeps one of the houses of the Dead. She reveals her face from behind the veil and shows her features. These are two Black Widow Spiders for her Eyes and a Ruby circlet over her forehead.

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Bring on the Zombies! Kevin takes the lot on with the aid of the Bus Station Bench that he was resting on, and then proceeds to charge it with his magic to create a weapon to combat the Zombies. He makes quick work of their ranks with the use of a No parking sign.

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The battle comes to a halt when a wailing sound in the distance reveals a demonic looking creature with immense Antlers and a single slit red visor on its helmet, sits on a Motorcycle. It is clear that she is not to kill him, but she does threaten to drag him to Hell alive!

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Ereshkigal blasts the Mage with red energy, and he is saved by a Love Ward ( Placed by his wife Mags last issue). She is infuriated by this mere annoyance and Gnashes her terrible maw of teeth at Kevin. As she appears to be getting the better of the battle, she makes the mistake of threatening the one that gave Kevin his Love Ward, his wife Magda.

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Kevin sends her back to Hell by wielding that same Bench, charged with a surge of energy that he has never felt it’s match before. His powers seem to escalate to meet that of his opponents. Kevin prevails but falls off a cliff in a very Homer Simpson fashion. Even with his enhanced durability and invulnerability, he is still afraid of heights.

He seeks the guidance of the Mage, whom he gets in touch with through an ATM. ( Kevin has a magic ATM card with access to unlimited funds, and through this, he can speak to the Former Earth Mage). He is upset, by the silent treatment, and a lack of exposition from the machine, and he punches it in the screen. The problem is that when Kevin uses his powers on things not related to his quests, he is vulnerable, and he hurts his hand. The card spits out and drops in front of him on the curb. Kevin is pissed off, at all of this struggle, and takes off down the road.

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Rating: 8/10

Final Thought: In this story, I feel that we get a tease of the events to come, and it leaves me as the reader with a litany of questions. Who called the Demon to attack Kevin, and who was the Figure that she said had claimed his life for his own to take? Are there limits to Kevin’s powers, and can he rise to meet the challenge of his opponents? And can he truly be the Avatar of the Legendary Gilgamesh?What does the next issue hold for our reluctant hero Kevin Matchstick? My hope is that you are reading along with me and enjoying this as much as I am. Start off by picking up the Issue #0 of this tale and jump in while we are only on #4, because not only is it fun, witty and reminds me a lot of Hellboy, since it is rooted in mythology and legend. Check this book out!

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