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Jed MacKay

Black Cat (2019, Vol. 1): Grand Theft Marvel

Felicia Hardy’s relationship with Odessa Drake, the head of the New York Thieves Guild, is – complicated. She may have complicated it further from stealing a painting from Odessa, but who’s to say? She’s already moved on to bigger and better things. Black Fox, the man who taught Felicia and her father everything they know about thievery, is back in town, and has a job for Felicia and her boys. He’s got one last big job in him before he retires. The hit? The Vault of the New York Thieves Guild. First though, they need to procure some things from the Sanctum Santorum and the Fantastic 4’s house – and that’s just for starters. Simple, right?

This good ol’ heist story had the same feeling as Trail of the Catwoman did. From a story-telling standpoint, I feel this book fared better, even if from an artistic stantpoint I feel the Catwoman book was done a tad more stylishly (to be fair, it’s very hard to top Darwin Cooke). MacKay managed to get some great characterization in despite the non-stop action and breakneck pacing – all while maintaining a light and humorous tone. This was done mostly through flashbacks of Black Fox and Felicia or her father, helping to explain their relationship and how Felicia turned out the way she did. All memories were pertinent to the situation in the present time. I missed the first title card in the first flashback and so was confused until the next one, but this was probably my own fault and not that of the creators or design of the book itself.

Movement was emphasized above all else in the artwork here. The backgrounds, while drawn well, are colored with simple washes to further bring the characters and their actions to the foreground. Thin linework allows the characters to move as they need to. The action sequences (and there are a lot of them) were exciting and well-done. I felt overall that the colors were too dark and muted to really work for such an action-oriented story, but it didn’t take away too much from the experience.

This volume only had Felicia and the gang stop at two famed Marvel landmarks in New York City, promising more in further volumes. I’m curious to see where their adventures lead next and to learn more about Felicia’s character. Fans of Black Cat and and the Spider-verse are sure to enjoy, but Marvel fans in general (I’m sure there are Easter eggs that flew right over my head) and readers who like heist and action stories will also want to check it out.

– Kathleen

MacKay, Jed, Travel Foreman, Michael Dowling, and Nao Fuji. Black Cat (2019, Vol. 1): Grand Theft Marvel. 2020.

Magic (Vol. 1)

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.

– Kathleen

MacKay, Jed, Ig Guara, and Arianna Consonni. Magic (Vol. 1). 2021.

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