THE MAGIC ORDER 4 #1
The Magic Order is in turmoil after Cordelia is forced to expel her brother. Whispers of discontent persist among the other wizards. They’re tired of the rules they’ve all been living under—and now a coup has begun...
Millar’s fourth installment picks up almost immediately where it left off with volume Three. Cordelia is still reeling from expelling her brother from the Order as per the rules about using Magic for self-gain and is wallowing in her unhealthy coping mechanisms. Meanwhile, around the world, loyal members of The Magic Order are being picked off as Madame Albany makes her move. It’s worth noting this isn’t an easy jumping on point; new readers should, at the minimum, have read volume three but having read all the previous volumes makes everything happening, even the behavior and what happens to minor ancillary characters, make a lot more sense.
Millar pours on gut punch after gut punch in an issue that is unrelenting, brutal, and filled with violence and gross body horror. It’s an opener meant to shock and dismay as horrible things befall loyal members of the Order that won’t join Albany’s power grab. That brings us to Sammy Liu. He’s the focal point of the issue as he finds himself between a rock and a hard place. Join Albany’s power grab or risk expulsion from the Order if they find out he’s been using Magic to amass personal wealth. He’s got doubts (I mean, taking orders from a reincarnated psychopath that’s possessed a child’s body isn’t exactly a career path anyone chooses, is it?). Still, in the end, he (seemingly) bends the knee, and his hand casts the spell that strikes down Cordelia and her on-again-off-again lover. It’s the darkest moment for Cordelia and her allies in the entire series so far. Still, it’s important to remember this: Cordelia IS the greatest escape artist alive, and if you are paying attention, there’s a scene at the Abington hotel in this issue that’s more important than it seems at face value.
Whether intentional or not, the issue highlights something very interesting. Cordelia has never followed the rules in her life; that refusal to follow the rules saved the Order, even at the risk of her sanity. The one time she does follow the rules, it costs her brother and possibly the Order itself.
The Magic Order is everywhere, protecting us from the things that go bump in the dark, but sometimes that darkness wins. It’s artist Dike Ruan’s job to bring this volume to life, and he is very much up to the task. Taking us around the world ( including the city of Cape town in my neck of the woods gets a shout-out, although it looks like Dike used the reference of Khayelitsha township, which isn’t the city itself but falls under the same metro ), Ruan uses his keen sense of scale and sharp line work to bring us horrific carnivals, a malevolent sea spirit (the splash page involved is incredible in its sense of scale and pure spectacle), magical violence and dangerous mythical creatures as members of the Order fall to Albany’s attack. Ruan can make every panel dynamic and feel like it’s in motion as you look at it.
The splash pages and action moments are gobsmackingly epic, but Ruan also brings that dynamism to the more intimate and interpersonal moments in the issue. The images move in a gloriously cinematic way giving the comic a breathless momentum that matches the unrelenting breakneck pace of the script. Colorist Giovanna Niro then adds an amazing mixed color palette where bright bolts of magical energy crackle against darker-hued backgrounds, and Clem Robbins once again brings his A game for the lettering, placing every speech bubble perfectly. Hence, it flows with dynamic imagery.
The first issue of volume #4 is a gut punch delivered in a beautiful silk glove that is the art by the creative team that superbly brings Millar's no holds barred script to life. It is wild, filled with magic, shocking betrayals and terrible choices. It's simpy the best adult magic series you'll read right now
THE MAGIC ORDER 4 #1: Extremely Hostile Takeover
- Writing - 10/1010/10
- Storyline - 10/1010/10
- Art - 10/1010/10
- Color - 10/1010/10
- Cover Art - 10/1010/10