Thomas Alsop #4
I know halfway through a miniseries isn’t a great place to start, but this is a good issue that shows off the various themes of this premise well. Thomas Alsop is “the hand of the island”, the home mage of Manhattan. It’s a family job, handed down over generations, but he’s turned his time in the role into a reality show and blog.
This issue, written by Chris Miskiewicz, introduces Emma, a British witch friend, and engages in a substantial flashback showing their early days together as a rock band made up of magicians. As Alsop explains things to Emma, the reader is also reminded of (or introduced to) the conflict and costs.
What some will find tricky about the series is the underlying concept: that Alsop is trying to exorcise (or otherwise handle) the ghosts at the World Trade Center from 9/11. It’s treated delicately, and while one might argue that the story didn’t need to be told at all, if you’re going to postulate a place-based magician in NYC, you sort of need to tackle it. It’s as valid a way of processing that event as any, in my opinion, through fantasy fiction. (And at least we aren’t presented with some kind of story about preventing or reversing the event.) There’s also the complication of the hull of an enchanted slave ship buried as landfill, reminding us of the tangled history of any long-standing place.
The art by Palle Schmidt is spooky and good at setting mood, from old friends reminiscing before getting down to the business of why you’d ask someone from your past for help, to the dodgy edges of a society based around exploring the unknown. The story’s got an excellent sense of place and plenty of content to ponder.
(The publisher provided a digital review copy.)