Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Review: MYSTIK U #1


[This review was originally posted on Patreon.]

STORY: Alisa Kwitney
ART: Mike Norton
COLORS: Jordie Bellaire
LETTERS: Deron Bennett
COVER: Julian Totino Tedesco
48pp, Color, $5.99 U.S. (January 2018)

Rated “T+” for “Teen Plus”

Zatanna created by Gardner Fox and Murphy Anderson

Zatanna Zatara is a DC Comics magic-based superhero.  The character was created by Gardner Fox and Murphy Anderson, and first appeared in Hawkman #4 (cover dated:  November 1964).  Zatanna is the daughter of Giovanni “John” Zatara, and like him, Zatanna is both a stage magician and an actual magician, and she is one of the most powerful magicians on Earth.  Zatanna controls her magic by speaking the words of her incantations spelled backwards, incantations that can alter reality.

Zatanna is the star of the new four-issue miniseries, Mystik U, which DC Comics is publishing on a bimonthly schedule.  The series is written by Alisa Kwitney; drawn by Mike Norton; colored by Jordie Bellaire; and lettered by Deron Bennett.  Mystik U follows a college age Zatanna who is enrolled in a college of magic and trying to learn which of her classmates is evil.

Mystik U #1 opens in a dark future, one which is ruled by an entity called the “Malevolence.”  A powerful magician believes that Zatanna can change this dark time, by being cast back in time.  Seven years earlier, a young Zatanna is a sheltered showbiz kid who suddenly experiences a shocking awakening of her powers.

That is why a friend, Dr. Rose Psychic, enrolls Zatana in Mystik University, a mysterious university that teaches its students how to master their unique brands of magic.  Zatanna finds herself drawn to four other students  There is Sebastian Faust, son of Felix Faust and a bitter rebel.  June Moone is a split personality also known as Enchantress.  Zatanna becomes close to the competitive premed student, Pia Morales (a new character).  Finally, there is the awkward prodigy, Sargon the Sorceror, who possesses a powerful gem and is much confused.  One of them is fated to betray the others and become a powerful force of evil, Malevolence.

I was cynical about Mystik U.  What little I read about it suggested that it was another lame attempt by DC Comics to get in on the Hogwarts-school-of-magic-band wagon that should have been theirs (Timothy Hunter, cough).  However, I was drawn to the striking cover art by Julian Totino Tedesco, so I picked up the first issue.

Boy, am I glad.  This is the kind of entertaining comic book that keeps me around DC Comics and Marvel even when I am ready to give up.  It is simply a joy to read, something fresh and not the usual superhero fight comic.  Writer Alisa Kwitney has fashioned a mysterious and intriguing school in Mystik University that has a dark-ish atmosphere, one that reminds me of Archie Comics' brilliant Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, in part because of Jordie Bellaire's sterling colors.  The characters are coming along, although they seem a bit unformed in this first issue.

Mike Norton offers art that is calm and a little stylish, but Norton emphasizes storytelling.  The setting, the characters, and the mood and atmosphere are all strong, and Norton creates for Mystik University, wonderfully varied interiors and exteriors.  He makes the school someplace the readers would like to visit (but maybe not to live), and Deron Bennett's lettering pops up like welcome signs to the story.  Norton makes the school feel like a real place of magic, and yes, crazy stuff happens there.

I heartily recommend Mystik U to readers of DC Comics' magic-based world and titles.  I eagerly await the next issue and incantation.

9 out of 10

Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux a.k.a. "I Reads You"

The text is copyright © 2017 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this blog for reprint and syndication rights and fees.


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