Magic and the supernatural are nothing new in the world of comics, but outside the big two is where the magic happens in this genre. Rich Douek and Brett Barkley have decided to throw their mystical hat in the ring with IDW and Comics Experience to unleash Gutter Magic on the world, a tale of people trying to gain lost magic, so will this be a spellbinding tale or will it end up in the gutter?
Publisher: IDW Publishing/Comics Experience
Writer: Rich Douek
Artist: Brett Barkley (Penciller/Inker), Jules Rivera (Colorist), Nic Shaw (Letterer)
Price: £2.49 from ComiXology
Gutter Magic tells the story of Cinder, a thief who, along with his Goblin friend Blacktooth, break into a wizard’s home to steal a scroll, barely escaping with their lives. It seems that Cinder is stealing magical scrolls in order to gain his birthright; a connection to magic which every member of his family has, except himself. However, after stealing all the pieces of the spell he needs to gain this connection, Cinder then realises he needs the spell maker, beginning a search which becomes all the more difficult when he encounters a gang in service to the Morgue, a dangerous foe Cinder has crossed in his past and who wants him dead.
Gutter Magic is an incredibly entertaining story, with Rich Douek building a very a very cinematic and epic feeling story within this incredibly detailed world. Douek builds upon this good story and immersive world with a truly compelling main character in Cinder who comes off as like a magical homage to Han Solo with a very charming, but untrustworthy personality. Although characterisation of the supporting characters is a little sparse, such as with Blacktooth who isn’t shown to be a Goblin until late in the issue, the build up of the unseen villain Morgue, as well as the reference to Manhattan scientist Oppenheimer and ‘the war’, leaves a lot of intrigue going forward as to what all this means.
Meanwhile, Brett Barkley’s art comes across as incredibly solid work, with Gutter Magic having a very Tooth and Claw style but with hints of something more Gothic or Steampunk filtering through. Every panel is incredibly detailed, with each panel providing an array of information about the word as well as spectacle for the story, such as the magical runes on Cinder’s gun and the Wizard’s magical shield, as well as the creepy depiction of the Imp who sells the heroic pair out to Morgue’s forces. Of course, the pencils don’t do all this on their own as Jules Rivera’s colours really add a spark of vibrancy, such as the Goblin Market or, more impressively, the fight in the Wizard’s home which, along with the prior mentioned pencils, the colours really make the standout panels in the book.