Although connected to the DC Universe since its inception, the series The Books of Magic has largely been considered separate from its superhero counterparts. But with long-time Vertigo pillars such as John Constantine and Swamp Thing finding their way to the DCU this year, Tim Hunter could be the gateway to understanding magic in a super-hero universe.
The concept for Books of Magic was originally dreamed up by DC editors in the late 1980s to highlight the magic characters in their library, and Neil Gaiman was eventually chosen to develop this gateway into the magic side of the DCU. Created several years before Vertigo’s inception, Gaiman’s concept was a de facto tour of the magical corners of the DCU put on for a twelve-year old boy named Timothy Hunter who had a destiny of being a big part of it all. Early issues saw Hunter cross paths with DC mainstays such as the Phantom Stranger, Doctor Fate, Zatanna and even Mike Grell’s Warlord. Over time Hunter’s adventures led him away from DC’s mainstays into his own corner of the universe, but now that DC’s New 52 is here perhaps it’s a second chance to open a door to the magical side of the DCU.
Magic has long been a hard subject for super-hero comics to broach: John Constantine’s Hellblazer is the sole long-running magic series in American comics, with more popular characters like Dr. Strange unable to topple that feat. But with the advent of DC’s Demon Knights and Justice League Dark, The Books of Magic could be an ideal primer on all-things-magic in the modern DCU. A new Books of Magic would restart Tim Hunter as an auspicious pre-teen in search of answers like a magic-version of TV’s Fringe. The book would need to find a balance between super-heroes and magic, but at the end of the day most people from both of those lines of work wear capes, right?
Although Hunter’s explored this area before, the DC of the New 52 could be a far different place for magic and Tim Hunter could begin to connect the dots in the diverse array of untouched and misunderstood magic concepts from DC’s long history and make it work. The first arc would mainly be a frantic hop, skip and jump over the various areas of magic in the DCU giving readers glimpses of things they’d want to see explored later on in future story-arcs.
Writer – Paul Cornell: When it came time to cast a net for the best writer to take on this book, DC has the answer right under their noses with Paul Cornell. This DC exclusive writer is already writing two series in the DCU umbrella (Demon Knights and Stormwatch) and a new ongoing called Saucer Country coming out from Vertigo, but its not unheard of for a writer to do four books simultaneously and Cornell would be perfect. He’s dealt with magic in Demon Knights and the excellent Captain Britain & The MI:13, and has even crossed paths with Death and Neil Gaiman twice in Action Comics and even a Doctor Who prose novel.
Cover Artist – Sean Murphy: Murphy might seem too action-oriented given his recent stint on American Vampire: Survival of the Fittest, but he has some diverse chops and to me is this generation’s Barry Windsor Smith. If given the right inspiration (and the right colorist), Murphy could create some of the most eye-catching covers on shelves and get new people interested in what would be an admittedly unusual book for the DCU.
Interior Artist – Zach Howard: To get this series some vitality, I’d enlist one of my iFanboy Upstarts, Zach Howard, to make this world real. Howard’s done super-heroes before, but more importantly he’s done other work as well, and for a series like The Books of Magic to work it needs that mix of genres, settings and flavors to really stand out for readers.
Interior Artist – Marian Churchland: For the second arc, I’d change things up and bring in Elephantmen artist Marian Churchland to give a more contoured and textural feel to the book. Churchland’s artwork lends itself more to the perceived Vertigo style, but she has the breadth to deliver on action scenes which The Books of Magic would need to break through and become a sustainable book in the New 52. She’s done smaller work for Vertigo in the past, and I’d love to see her illustrate Tim’s ongoing exploration of the magical side of the DCU. Perhaps a trip to Gemworld is in order.