Books of Magic #16
Bereft of any other distraction, Tim bunks off school at the persuasion of his older self. Blissfully unaware that this is for an ulterior motive, he barely senses he is being pushed to perform more magic and walk down a darker path. Meanwhile his teacher and magical guide Rose gets a visit from Celia Culpepper, who informs her Tim has been travelling to worlds he isn't meant to go to. And so they go to see Hettie for answers, where it is clear there is no love lost between the two. Finally as Tim takes a trip to his new friends world he falls foul of his dark temper and realises he is all alone and truly is his own worst enemy.
The art this issue became rather more noticeable than in recent months and has stepped up a gear in terms of it’s place in the unfolding story. That isn’t to say it overshadows the writing, but as the plot takes a darker and more threatening turn it has added some urgency to the narrative. There is suddenly a more defined texture and you can almost see Craig Taillefer’s hand in the design of the finished product that inform each of the players in the drama. Especially in touches like the visualisation of Celia Culpepper. It seems she has had a subtle and slight change in image, giving her an almost Cruella De Vil like appearance. This differs from her previous depiction and even that of the painted cover by Kai Carpenter, looking authoritarian yet ethereal and stunning as always. This change is no bad thing, as it could be a keen indicator to the motivation and makeup of the character. Even the reflective surfaces of older Tim’s glasses, which give him a nondescript appearance that helps disguise his true intent from his protégé. Also the quirky off centre knot of young Tim’s school tie and untucked shirt, giving him a jaunty and playful childlike image, which helps to define him and elucidate to his innocent willfulness, underpinning the ease with which he is being guided by his dark, more influential future self. In fact all of these are loud indicators to the personality of each of the people in question.
And there is also something quite telling in the settings created by Tom Fowler and the drama is implicit in several key scenes. The way older Tim looms over his younger self in a predatory fashion as he leads him through the cold landscape of his own cold, barren world is clearly deliberate. And in particular there is much to glean in the depiction of the gathering of the three women in Tim’s life, who are each more skilled in magic than he. As Rose and Celia discuss the whereabouts of Tim with Hettie they are almost the epitome of the mother, maiden and crone analogy common among witches. Also it may be imagination but the subtle juxtaposition of the three could possibly indicate either their class distinction, power level and even where they each stand in regards what to do with Tim. Hettie is at one extreme and is comfortably on Tim’s side. Celia at the other extreme, looking in as an outsider. And Rose in the middle, unsure where she stands.
With the addition of some explosive and dramatic text as shown by Todd Klein in the final frame and the bold and rich colours of Jordan Boyd and Marissa Louise the whole team now matches seamlessly with the as ever perfectly pitched writing of Kat Howard as she guides us through the twisting path Tim is taking. With every moment the dark version is in his life there is an ominous sense of dread to things. From watching his sleeping father in the dark and musing about toying with his mind, to literally killing young Tim’s dreams there is a fast approaching sense of doom. And even though his being shut off from most avenues of help and support began well last issue, it is now compounded by the way he is apparently also divided from his guide Yoyo, who it was recently indicated was silently watching over Tim when Rose interacted with him.The building tension and mystery has me on the edge of my seat, and I feel the back of my neck tingle even more so than before. Not once do I feel complacent or even confident that Tim will come through this unscathed. His older self is of course the more pressing enemy, but is far from the only worry. The motivations of Celia are also fraught with potential danger and doubt. Conversely I am now even more worried about how the Cold Flame seem to be the ones protecting him now, as they warn off his older self from doing him any harm…yet. The only glimmer of hope comes in the knowledge he finally sees there is something not right with his older self. Which may build to a big confrontation soon.
Things are taking a turn for the worst from every conceivable angle and it’s getting hard to see where there will be any respite. The writing and art are the most in tune they’ve been the whole series so far. Which is great news for readers.
Books of Magic #16 Hunter Plays Hooky
- Writing - 10/1010/10
- Storyline - 10/1010/10
- Art - 10/1010/10
- Color - 10/1010/10
- Cover Art - 10/1010/10
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