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Mage: The Hero Denied #0

    Ian Jane

  • Mage: The Hero Denied #0

    Mage: The Hero Denied #0
    Released by: Image Comics
    Released on: July 12th, 2017.
    Written & Illustrated by: Matt Wagner
    Purchase From Amazon

    It's been a long time since Matt Wagner delved into the story of one Kevin Matchstick, but with Mage: The Hero Denied, it seems the time has finally come for the writer/artist to bring the story to a close. While the first issue doesn't come out until August, this #0 issue, a quick half-sized comic book, once again serves as an 'interlude' story that bridges the last chapter (The Hero Defined, which came out way back in 1997!) with this latest effort. It also serves as a great jumping on point for new readers who might otherwise be lost in the book's continuity.

    'Third Interlude' opens with a page depicting Kevin Matchstick alone in what looks like a back alley of some sort. A man outside the panel calls out to him, he remembers him as 'Snapdragon' or 'Dragonfly' but Kevin corrects him - 'Pendragon.'

    It turns out they're standing in front of an old abandoned factory. The man, Kismet, asks Kevin what he's been up to all this time, where he's been. He doesn't get much in the way of answer, but that doesn't dampen the man's enthusiasm - he sees them as 'heroes on the hunt,' working together for the greater good. When Kevin asks him what his avatar his, Kismet corrects him, that stuff doesn't matter anymore. Oh, and he goes by 'The Steeze' and he's got loads of image and style.

    There's an infestation of 'bad little beasties' in the factory and it's time to take them out. Kevin specifies: these things are bookas, deadly little border goblins. When they sneaks up on Steeze he uses his magic to take them out, or at least he tries. He's off to a good start until one of the bookas bites him, taking him out and leaving Kevin to help him out. Once he does, Steeze finishes the job and heads off into the night. With Steeze out of the way, Kevin, realizing that the presence of the bookas indicates a bigger problem in the area yet to be dealt with, gets down to business…

    A new Matt Wagner project is, for some of us, always a cause for celebration but a new Mage story? That's something else completely. It's been twenty years since the last book, a long time by anyone's standards, but this preview issue proves that there's still a lot of life left in the character. Matchstick has evolved quite a bit since the first issue (published way, way back in 1984 by the long gone Comico Comics), he's more confident in his abilities and he's much more experienced. He has the wisdom of his years backing him up at this point as well, and it would seem that he has little patience for the 'new breed' of warriors like Steeze, arrogant types more concerned with putting on a flashy show than doing a good job. This potentially sets up some interesting things to come, as it would stand to reason that Kevin, referred to as 'old timer' by Steeze at one point, is going to experience some conflict when dealing with the younger generation.

    The issue ends on a cliffhanger, revealing the real threat that would seem to have brought our hero out of retirement, if he ever was really retired in the first place. The artwork is up to Wagner's typically high standards, lots of detail and great character design and a knack for illustrating interesting monsters, while the story once again finds a nice balance between humor, horror and action. Brennan Wagner's coloring is really solid here too. Bring on the proper first issue… it's been a long wait, but it's great to finally be here.
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