INDIE COMIC REVIEW: Gutter Magic #2 – He Lives | FanboysInc

INDIE COMIC REVIEW: Gutter Magic #2 – He Lives

By Jeff Ayers

INDIE COMIC REVIEW: Gutter Magic #2 - He Lives

Writer: Rich Douek

Artists: Brett Barkley, Jules Rivera, Nic Shaw



With issue 2 of Gutter Magic, we get some more information on the mysterious Cinder Byrnes, as he and Blacktooth are still on the hunt to decipher the spell that seems to have been written by Robert Oppenheimer. But the pair must get away from the murderous Morgue Gang that is pursuing them through the streets of the magical marketplace.

The pint-sized Shiver and her gang of thugs seem to have Cinder and Blacktooth cornered, as well as the poor shopkeeper that gets caught up in the crazy standoff. The narration from Cinder even remarks that this could be considered “high noon”, and the art beautifully depicts a showdown of epic proportions. Instead of delving directly back into the magic elements we saw at the end of the previous issue, Shiver takes a much more disturbing approach, as she lauds death and cuts her face with a straight razor. Cinder takes this moment as a way out, and shoots her with his magic pistol right between the eyes.

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INDIE COMIC REVIEW: Gutter Magic #2 - He Lives

This is where the artistic team of Barkley, Rivera and Shaw really get to shine. The intricate details they pack into the panel laden pages are woven beautifully throughout the story, but when they get the chance to depict a scene in a full splash page, you truly get to see a well oiled team get to tour their talents. Also, when the main characters do escape the clutches of Shiver and her gang, and they arrive at Whispers place, the art sets a more somber and creepy tone.

INDIE COMIC REVIEW: Gutter Magic #2 - He Lives

Whispers seems to be a purveyor of secrets, and he himself might have one foot in the grave already, as he seems to speak in an otherwordly fashion. Douek has a knack for interjecting characters into this story with little fanfare, yet they fit perfectly into the world he has created. You firmly believe that Whispers has been there for years, and his shop may hold all the secrets of the universe. Gutter Magic #2 then shifts to Cinder’s cousin Victor’s tower, who we learn is a wizard, much like Cinder wishes to be. Yet wizards have to be born that way, or so it seems, and Cinder never got the blood from birth to achieve his dreams. The spell that he has been tracking down from Robert Oppenheimer might hold the key to becoming one though, and he needs more answers that he hopes he can find in his cousin’s library. Things take a turn for the worst though, as Cinder and Blacktooth hide from view as Victor is tortured by The Morgue herself for information about the whereabouts of Cinder!

The “Best There Is”: This story is incredibly crafted by Douek, and sucks you deeper into it with each page you turn. The world seems fully realized, created from an alternate timeline from our own, and there is a magical beauty to the scenery the characters exist within. At its heart, this is an adventure story, a quest to find a lost spell, and to uncover the answers that Cinder so desperately seeks. Yet, the story of his past, and the wish to be more than he is told he can be, is developing nicely underneath the events as they unfold.

The “Isn’t Very Nice”: Even though the characters largely exist within the world created for them, thanks to the sprawling art that depicts the story throughout, it still can be confusing at times as to when and where this world resides. The tease of a World War II that ended differently, especially with the help of magic, is an awesome premise, but there seems to be little to ground that backstory in the events we get to see unfold on the page. This is only a four issue series, and the last two issues might have a big job to wrap up all the loose ends, as well as give as much exposition as possible to fully flesh out this beautiful story. Even a simple description of the gun that Cinder uses, that readers can infer is magical in origin, would help to give readers some more insight into the wonderful world that permeates Gutter Magic

FBI Score: 8.5 out of 10. The second issue of Gutter Magic brings new characters, and some new light onto the quest that Cinder and Blacktooth are desperately trying to complete. A little less magic, and a lack of backstory for the war still leaves many questions, that will hopefully be resolved in full by the end of the mini-series.

Jeff Ayers

Both my parents instilled in me at an early age the awesome power and incredible wonder of the written word. My father sat with me when I was four years old and taught me to enjoy reading with classic comic strips like SPIDERMAN, PEANUTS, B.C. and, later, CALVIN AND HOBBES. My mother exposed me to such classics of literature as Poe, Tolkien, Stoker and Doyle, and I started my own comic collection with allowance money from mowing lawns. I liked Wolverine before it was cool, I watched as Superman died and returned, and huddled under the covers as I turned the pages of SANDMAN. Reading is like oxygen to me, and all genres and formats are welcome and devoured equally. I am the co-host of The DW and Incredible Jeff Show, CEO of Permian Productions, and a reviewer at Graphic Novel Reporter. I am 34 and live in scenic Saratoga Springs New York, where I haunt coffee shops and dive bars and the best comic shop anywhere, The Comic Depot.

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