The Magic Order unites A-List creators Mark Millar and Olivier Coipel in the first series from the Image/Netflix collaboration.
The Order is a secret organization with long roots; protecting average people from mystical threats, its members hide in plain sight. The Moonstone family is prominent in the group. Leonard, a well-known stage magician, is the current leader, a flawed father to his adult children. Daughter Cordelia is the black sheep, a rebellious escapologist whose decisions constantly exasperate her father. Loyal middle son Regan has a fiery temper, but is devoted to his family and its cause. Eldest son Gabriel, possibly the family’s most powerful member, has fled the world of magic in the wake of an unbearable tragedy. A renegade from the Order begins killing its members, using a mysterious assassin, in the pursuit of the most powerful, and most dangerous, book of magic in existence. If the Moonstones can’t unite as a family, the world might be overwhelmed by dark magic.
Millar appears to have a great deal of fun with this series, mixing Shakespearean-inspired family drama with outlandish magical conceits. The Moonstone family are a strong anchor for The Magic Order, providing a vehicle for building out this fictional world while also providing a compelling focal point for the character drama. That Millar handles the interpersonal drama deftly is no surprise, and the complicated, contrary Cordelia emerges as the crucial part of the mix. Millar comes up with some inventive concepts for this world (the location of the Order’s headquarters, a special hotel for magicians) and mixes in solid action concepts and a few well-crafted twists that should more than hold a reader’s interest throughout.
Coipel, a long-time Marvel exclusive, thrives when given the chance to stretch his wings. His trademark style is evident and he tackles the big ideas of the story with flair and imagination. Working with ace colorist Dave Stewart, he crafts a suitably shadow-edged environment for these darker characters, presenting the quiet character moments with as much dynamism as the big ticket action sequences. He contributes some first rate design work and whips up imagery that the Netflix adaptation would be wise to just borrow wholesale. Coipel takes a more classicist approach to page construction, eschewing the trend of overly complex panel design when a more traditional approach serves the storytelling quite well. Stewart’s intuitive sense for the tones that enhance the pages is on full display, giving the whole proceedings a shimmer and glow that’s inviting and attractive, with carefully placed color effects that add interest and dramatic urgency. It’s beautiful, expressive work from the art team, one of the better looking books in recent memory.
This is rated Mature for a reason. There’s some adult content, as well as imagery that might shock some sensibilities; the sequence that opens the series is especially shocking. For all that, nothing here feels gratuitous; the creators are making a book for an adult audience and don’t water down the material, but never feel like they go over the top, either.
For fans of the creators or of smart, urban fantasy, The Magic Order is well worth reading.