• Mage The Hero Denied #3



    Mage The Hero Denied #3
    Released by: Image Comics
    Released on: October 18th, 2017.
    Written & Illustrated by: Matt Wagner
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    “For years, Kevin Matchstick and his wife Magda have led a quiet life, raising their two children and hiding from the dark forces that he once combatted as the reborn Pendragon. An adept witch, Magda has spent the past seven years brewing a protection philter that will make their home immune from any magical attack. With only several weeks until the potion reaches fruition, they’re reluctant to once again uproot their family and flee a potential threat. But another attack from the fairy realms forces Kevin to once again call on the power of Excalibur, fully exposing the reality of magic to his son Hugo.”

    Kevin and Hugo are back in the parking lot after dealing with the threat that ended the second issue. Hugo is, understandably, unnerved by what has just happened. They saw ‘scary things, big scary things,’ But Kevin ‘kicked their butts’ and now it’s time to go home and make sure everything is okay at home. On the way, Hugo asks Kevin how he won the fight and Kevin does what he can to explain to the kid how magic works.

    Elsewhere, the Umbra-Mother has sent two of her gracklethorns into the seedy side of town. They might be dressed like hookers but when they show up at the shelter and offer to volunteer the nun in charge accepts them. The sister shows them around and one of the gracklethorns, Aleski, seems to take an interest in a certain Mr. Sanchez who is missing his leg and in pretty bad shape. Aleski is left alone with the man and she calls back to speak to the Mother. She’s put on the phone with him and determines that he’s not the Fisher King, at which point Aleski is instructed to simply do away with him. She obliges. The other gracklethorn, Sasha, kills the nun, and the two of them split. Their disguises are no longer working, ‘the glamour has worn off.’

    Back at the Matchstick home, Mags is wondering why the hubcaps are missing off of their Volkswagen Beetle. She puts two and two together and Kevin tells her what happened. They’re both concerned about keeping their kids safe after being found twice in such a short period of time.

    The Umbra-Mother meets with her gracklethorns who suggest setting up a shelter of their own to trap the Fisher King – an abattoir disguised as an oasis. Karol and Zofia are sent out to take care of this and make it happen. Aleski will coordinate outreach. Sasha will make it seductive and Olga will make it secure.

    Kevin and Mags continue their talk later that night, neither can sleep. Kevin figures that as he was told there’s a bounty on his head that they’re after him, they might not know about Mags ore the kids. He needs to buy time for Mags’ elixir to finish. It’s decided he’ll go on the road to keep the threat away from his family while Mags ensures that her protection philter is complete. The next morning he’s on a bus. As he travels, those he meets up with talk to their peers of how the ‘Pendragon is back in the game’ after a decade long absence. Strange things seem burned, explosions leave weird marks. He’s making sure he’ll be seen, that the Umbra-Mother will be able to find him.

    If the first two issues (and the #0 preview) were setup, this third issue is the payoff. Sort of. There’s obviously a lot more to come but here we see middle aged dad Kevin Matchstick embrace his past as the Pendragon and set out to stop that which has started to pose a threat to his family. The ending of this issue makes that very, very clear – Kevin is powerful and he knows it. If he’s been hiding out playing at domesticity for a while, he’s hardly gone soft. How this will play out obviously remains to be seen, there’s quite a few issues left, but one gets the impression by the time they hit the last page here that, yeah, the gloves are off. Matt Wagner is building to something here, something big, and something possibly quite insane… in the best way possible.

    All the while, Kevin’s human element, the part of the character that has always made him interesting to people, the portion of him that we can relate to, remains front and center. He doesn’t want to leave his family. He worries about them, he cares for them. But he has to protect them and if that means putting himself front and center then so be it. But again, this human element, it’s important. It grounds him. We also get some interesting development with the Umbra-Mother and her gracklethorns – what exactly they’re up to and why is still not completely obvious but there are hints here. All things in due time.

    The artwork, wonderfully colored by Brennan Wagner, is just as good as the writing. Those who have loved Wagner’s style since the original Mage debuted back in the eighties will still love it in 2017. The familiarity here is appreciated, this has his stamp all over it, but at the same time it’s updated in that this is taking place in the current time frame. Kevin might still wear that same t-shirt but what’s around him has changed. Wagner’s art reflects this perfectly. Those of us who have literally grown up reading Mage really should appreciate what’s been done with this latest storyline. Kevin’s grown with us, and so too has Wagner. That’s a big part of the appeal to this series, but another part? An ass kicking, balding, magic wielding guy in a lightning bolt shirt kicking evil’s ass. We get a lot of that too.