BOOKS OF MAGIC #8
As Tim is held utterly spellbound by his surroundings in the realm of Faerie Rose argues with Titania as to how best deal with the matter at hand. As fortune has it Tim himself comes upon a forest that raises some very disturbing questions, and he challenges Titania about it and demands the return of his memories.
Titania shows him a box, before telling him he can still stay if he chooses not to remember. Tim decides to take back his memories, which overwhelm him and he runs off in horror. Rose declares her surprise that Titana allowed him to have all of them and is told in return Titania will now seek a favor from her in exchange. Catching up with Tim she finds him resolute in continuing the search for Ellie, despite his own anger and the two say goodbye to Titania, leaving her to sit in fear of what is to come for the boy.
Characters: From the cliffhanger of the last issue I have been chomping at the bit to see what happens next. And once again Kat Howard did not disappoint. For those that are not steeped in Hunter lore it has been very strongly hinted, by which I mean implicitly stated, that Titania is in fact Tim’s mother. Due to several ‘fake but real’ legends created by Merlin to strengthen his magic, the past crumbs of clues have been laid out as many different versions of his origin exist. Each of which are true in their own way. And so it appears Tim’s arrival in Faerie allows Titania to once again play overprotective mother. And Kat characterises her here perfectly, neither overplaying the menace that lurks beneath the demure surface, or in any way ignoring her past portrayal. Though I actually felt a little sorry for her by the end of it all.
There is an inherent danger in rebuking the charms and favours of the Faerie Queen and sometimes acceptance is seen as a more comfortable alternative to the fury and scorn that comes from refusal. And Rose has clearly decided that hanging around is not the best option, and she can see his priorities are being clouded by the Glamour of the place. But Tim has never been one to shy away from a challenge and so I admit a small amount of satisfaction in seeing he didn’t fall foul of her ploy, or indeed simply succumb to her wishes. But even before he even sees the box I knew…Tim doesn’t hide from consequence and was happy to see he makes the right decision.
Writing: The ending of Titania’s hold over Tim is bittersweet, but of course vital in ensuring the progression of the story. And this is handled with a perfect amount of intrigue, yet still keeps you guessing as to whether or not it was even really the wisest move. Titania has removed her control over Tim, but now of course she has managed to concoct another debt to hold over Rose. Only time will tell if this has any consequence, and it may be that it falls to Tim to later ensure her freedom. The Tim I know would never idly stand by and allow someone else to pay a debt on his behalf.
The whole segue into the Realm of Faerie is equal parts charming and disturbing. The trip into the woods to discover the truth of his past was darker than I imagined it could be so soon, but it was the perfect time to finally reveal a little more of his potential for downfall. After the scrying pool image last issue, it succeeds in upping the risk and at the same time setting up yet more intriguing questions about the past, especially regarding Tim’s dark potential and what has happened there in the past. And the setting in the magical realm is brilliantly blended with the continuing investigation back home in the mundane world, as the detectives are closing in on their enquiries of our two missing travellers.
However As a Londoner born and bred I have one tiny niggle…London police? Depending on the relevant boroughs they would maybe say they were Hammersmith, Notting Hill, Croydon police and so on, even the Met/Metropolitan police, not London police. This is of course a minor wrinkle. However I don’t think it’s ever been covered as to whereabouts in London Tim is actually from, as for a U.S. comic it’s not really been necessary. But when things like that crop up it suddenly becomes relevant. Not that I want to pick holes in the narrative as I absolutely love all that Kat does here. Especially the way Tim’s father is so deep under his sons spell he can’t even see what is right under his nose…or not.
The subtext involving the investigation back home is a brilliant way to keep things grounded and remind us what is actually at stake here. Also I love the way Kat keeps adding Davies into the mix as well. This ensures we haven’t forgotten the real mastermind behind the whole situation. And this gives hope to Ellie still trapped where Davies has imprisoned her. And as the Cold Flame insist he undoes the meddling he’s perpetrated, it’s clear they don’t actually want Tim dead. They are clearly more interested in his safety and see the potential for future manipulation is more beneficial than harming him. I’m not sure if that reassures me or worries me more.
Art: I always look forward to the covers and Kai Carpenter has once again won me over before I even open the first page. Here she has depicted the allure of Titania perfectly, and the reader is at once captivatingly drawn to her spellbinding eyes, in a way that promises both whimsical mystery and dark wonders. And the wisps of her wavy hair almost sway in the breeze and send a chill down the spine. Tom Fowler and Brian Churilla are also still wowing me when it comes to the art. Both the weirdly wonderful fairy companions that Titania has supervising Tim and the delightfully dark and blood drenched woods are only surpassed by the cornucopia of visual treats in the imaginatively created Goblin Market. I had a slight moment of what can only be described as Delirium with the sight of Goldfish balloons!!! This is clearly a nod to the youngest sister of Dream, and I for one was Delighted.Endless Nights art: Frank Quitely
And the twilight world Tim witnesses is continually underpinned by the colors of Jordan Boyd and Marissa Louise, who ensure the balance of darkness is kept just at the edges of perception, as well as throwing the home based narrative into cool daylight and ensuring the difference is subtly marked. This issue has again won me over, in terms of both art and story. The plot is moving at a great pace and I feel spoilt so soon after the sojourn into the Land of Dreams and this has instantly become my favourite of all the returned Vertigo titles of old. I look forward to every issue and am never left unsatisfied when reading it. The pacing is measured to perfection and the drama is meted out with the right amount of mystery and intrigue, while ensuring readers both new and well versed are kept equally enraptured by the exploits of the Opener and his companions. I haven’t felt any part of the narrative to be neglected or pushed aside and the continued way in which the quest to save Ellie is unfolding perfectly. I only hope there will be much more of the development of his skills, as well as his continued bafflement at the machinations of those around him.
This title is going from strength to strength. Each titbit of information is keeping me intrigued as to how it will be resolved and each dilemma has me guessing as to how it will progress. This is a sure sign of great storytelling.
Books of Magic #8: The Tithes That Bind
Writing - 8.5/108.5/10
Storyline - 9/109/10
Art - 8.5/108.5/10
Color - 8/108/10
Cover Art - 9/109/10
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