MAGE: THE HERO DENIED
released OUT NOW! Publisher Image Comics
Writer/artist Matt Wagner
The first book of Matt Wagner’s Mage trilogy was originally published in 1984, and almost two decades have passed since the second volume concluded in 1999. Much has changed for Kevin Matchstick – the reincarnation of the mythical Pendragon – in long-awaited third instalment The Hero Denied (drawn largely on the writer’s own life), as he now has two children with his wife, Magda.
It’s actually Kevin himself who’s in denial, as he refrains from using his mystical abilities in a bid to hide from the malevolent Umbra Sprite and her equally scary brood, the Gracklethorns. Wagner takes his time unfolding the plot (which is easy to follow for any newcomers) as Kevin is forced to confront his past after an encounter with some fairy beasts. Interweaving themes of parental responsibility with mystical action, Wagner neatly balances domestic details with more fantastical elements.
With Wagner basing his hero’s physical appearance on himself, it’s fitting that, like his creator, Kevin has lost much of his hair during the intervening years. Keeping it in the family, his dynamic art is enhanced by his son Brennan Wagner’s evocative colours, which range from brighter hues to a subtler palette depending on what’s required. As timeless as the Arthurian legends themselves, this is a comic book classic for all the ages. Stephen Jewell