Today IDW is launching another miniseries based off the long running card came, Magic: The Gathering. I’ve been an on-again, off-again fan of the game since I was a kid. My friends and I loved collecting the cards and of course, fighting over the rules. I never caught IDW’s previous Magic miniseries but when I saw this new one was starting I was excited to check it out. Matt Forbeck continues his story of Planeswalker Dack Fayden with art by Martin Coccolo in The Spell Thief. Dack is on the hunt for Sifa Grent, another Planeswalker that destroyed his home. The trail leads Dack into a Titan-sized trap with only his wit and magical prowess to defend him.
As someone vaguely familiar with the Planeswalker lore and the potential for a Magic: The Gathering story this issue was a little disappointing. There are a few MTG cards out there with more intriguing flavor text than what you’ll read in this issue. A noticeable chunk of the narration is simply explaining what you can see for yourself. I understand not everything can have Joss Whedon‘s dialogue, but the characters in this book felt very one-dimensional and communication was largely monosyllabic. When a large, savage looking beast gets the jump on Dack and says “Don’t force me to damage you” it’s hard to keep a straight face. Where the writing may not have been that impressive the pencils were a lot of fun. More than just the drawings themselves, the fine detail added in by pencil shading added a subtle realism to the faces and the monsters. The colorist may not have appreciated having a large chunk of their work already done by the pencils, but visually speaking, this book was enjoyable.
So is this worth picking up? Personally, $5 seems like a steep price to pay for what you get, even though it comes sealed with a card. If you loved the first Dack adventure you’ll probably want to see what he’s up to now, but the card appears to be a generic Arrest spell, so if you play the game, chances are you have a few in your deck. The card does come with exclusive art though, and the spell is relevant to the story, which was a nice touch. I’ve noticed a trend in recent years of comic writers writing for the trade. I plan to continue reading this four issue miniseries to see if it improves when I have the full context of the rest of the story. I’m not holding my breath for witty dialogue but perhaps the story will speed up. Either way I’m looking forward to more of this series’ art.