The Magic: The Gathering collectable card game has been going for nearly 20 years now, and the various card set expansions have been set on various ‘planes’ of existence, each with their own quirks and characters. Tie-in fiction has been around for years, including previous runs of comics. Independent publisher IDW now holds the rights and has begun a new series of comics. This, the first part of four introduces new Planeswalker Dack Fayden, a spell-thief. He is on the run after stealing a magical blade which will propel him on a journey to the plane of Innistrad to find out about a crucial time in his past..
As a first issue, it has a lot to do, especially with the introduction of a new ‘Planeswalker’ central to the comic, and apparently the next set of cards to join the game. Planeswalkers have the ability to travel from one ‘plane’ of existence to another. If this sounds like gibberish, there isn’t any need to worry. Crucially, for such an established product, Magic: The Gathering #1, is accessible to non-players of the game. Whilst there are nods to the fans of the game, both the story and characters are completely open to non-players of Magic.
The main character, Dack Fayden isn’t really developed much in this opening instalment. You get glimpses of his life; he is clearly adept at being on the run, with multiple plans in his head for escaping any given situation. He appears (although there is limited evidence on show here) to be a charmer, and he has the ability to read past memories from owners of artifacts. Unfortunately for us, these and any other powers he might have remain a mystery at present. I wasn’t convinced by him, everyone’s out to get him, he appears to wander from place to place with no roots lumbering from one calamity to another – very clichéd. I was, however, thrown a curveball at the end of the comic which promises to, at the least, show different, hopefully more likeable facets of Fayden’s character.
Artwork is good and fitting to the style of the card game. My only caveat to this was the lack of distinction, both in colour and style between the planes of Ravinca and Fiora. A newcomer to the MtG universe might not realise that these worlds are completely apart from each other. It is a bit dark though in general, whether a stylistic choice or not, I don’t know, but it does make it difficult to see what’s going on some of the time. It’s a shame because the colours are warm, especially when in Ravnica
As a side note, each issue comes with an alternate-art playable card. Although other comics previously have come with cards in the past, I don’t subscribe to the contingent that was expecting an all-star card to be given away with issues – this is a nice touch and a good thought from IDW/Wizards of the Coast. Also, perfectly packaged – as someone who likes to keep their comics/books in nice order, the polythene protection and card to keep it rigid was something that other comics producers could learn from.
In conclusion, not a perfect start, the plot moves fast enough to forgive this, and enough threads are left dangling at the end to encourage me to pick up the next issue – especially if we going to travel to Innistrad, the plane where the game is currently set.
The Fiction Stroker gives Magic: The Gathering #1 three strokes out of five: