Gutter Magic #1 Review

Writer: Rich Douek
Pencils: Brett Barkley
Colors: Jules Rivera
Letters: Nic J. Shaw
Publisher: IDW

The addition of wizards in World War 2 on both sides brought about armageddon.  The remaining population who was able to survive, a mixture of sorcerers, fantastical creatures, and everyday people were able to to organize and create a new civilization.  However they’re below the powerful wizards who control high ground in buildings that tower over them.  The plebeians of this world do have magic of there own but is beneath the wizards and they call it Gutter Magic.

The opening synopses of Gutter Magic #1 is fantastic and got me really intrigued and hyped to read this.  Unfortunately, the comic goes at a pace that seems like writer Rich Dauek is in a rush to tell the story as quickly as possible without establishing characters, motivations, atmosphere, or even the world in which the comic takes place.  The comic follows two characters named Cinder, a human who seems to have mystical powers of his own but is unable to presently use them, and Blacktooth, a goblin who seems to have greater knowledge of the mystical then Cinder does.

We don’t get much in terms of character identity, personality, or motivation but it seems as if they’re trying to portray Cinder as a almost Han Solo type of character.  This is evident of a scene in a tavern where we learn that Cinder is in debt and there are people out for his head.  He tries to smooth talk his way out of paying his tab to a waitress and we get references that he always talks his way out of problems.  He says some snarky one liners that just come off as cheesy and lame.  It really isn’t till the last couple pages where we get a more fleshed out and intriguing understanding of this world, which is good but it’s not enough.

The the problem with this issue is it’s in too much of a hurry to get the plot moving and focused on driving the narrative forward that it fails in telling us who these characters are and why we should care about them.  This is a four issue miniseries and maybe thats the root of the problem, there just might be too much story here for just four issues.

The artwork here is detailed but fairly standard.  Brett Barkley’s and Jules Rivera’s work here is competent and is by no means bad.  There is effort in giving each character a distinguished look, the background is busy but has focus and clarity in what’s there.  It just comes off as a bit standard and bland and nothing really stands out to call for a panel stare.  The exception however is a two page spread of a chase scene that reminded me of the wacky chase scene in the animated film “The Thief and the Cobbler”.  However it worked well in the film because of the movement and thats difficult to translate to still images.

Final Verdict

Gutter Magic #1 had a promising start with its opening narration.  However the bad narrative pacing, lack of character identity and motivation establishment, and bland artwork makes this a complete let down of a read.  It by no means is terrible but disappointing is the proper term to classify this comic under.

Score: 1.5 out of 5

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