Ravnica is a great city led by ten different Guilds. These Guilds are watched over by the Guildpact and the chair, Niv-Mizzet. Guildmasters Kaya, Ral, and Vraska all have the “spark,” or the ability to jump between the many planes of the multiverse: more colloquially, they’re called “Planeswalkers.” These three Guildmasters are all attacked at the same time, and they decide to team up to get to the bottom of it. When even their friend, telepath Jace, is targeted and left with a psychic trap in his brain, they know they’re onto something big. Meeting with the Guildmaster of the assassin’s guild and multiple Planeswalkers only confirms this idea. Whoever is behind it wants to raze Ravnica to the ground, but who and why? Who will believe and help them out of this deep conspiracy?
For some reason, it didn’t occur to me that this was a Magic the Gathering graphic novel until I was looking at the bib page to write this review. I don’t play the popular deck-building game and have zero knowledge of the lore. That said, I didn’t need any to read, understand, and highly enjoy this graphic novel. I was totally swept away by the extensive world-building, the rollicking adventure, and the city’s inner workings. While there is a lot of exposition, it’s carefully spread out so that it doesn’t feel overwhelming, and the bits you get are immediately relevant to the story at the point it’s revealed in. As the story went on, I only got curiouser and curiouser at the dynamics, magic, and politics.
Fantastical art only deepened the sense of immersion. Different Guilds and magic users all have their own color palette to more easily distinguish between them. For example, Ral is a lightning mage and the head of the Guild of scientists, so his color palette is predominantly blue; whereas the medusa-like Vraska is head of the Guild of the Undercity citizens, so her color palette is predominantly green. Raya, who has the ability to kill ghosts, and as the reluctant head of the Guild of “priests and bankers, ghosts and gangsters” (pg. 5, what a line, I just had to share it) has a mostly pink and orange color palette. Razor-sharp lineart helps to tidy up the huge action sequences.
The best-worst cliffhanger I’ve ever read makes it clear more are in the works. I NEED THEM!!! I’m not a Magic fan at all and if I loved it this much, I can only imagine how crazy fans will go for it. Whether or not they’re a Magic player, if YA readers and up like political fantasy with tons of action, they will love this graphic novel.
MacKay, Jed, Ig Guara, and Arianna Consonni. Magic (Vol. 1). 2021.