Books of Magic No. 4: Bonding with bag ladies and familiars


Books of Magic links into the Sandman Universe a little deeper.

Assuming you’re hip to comics, you’re well aware of The Sandman, from the legendary Neil Gaiman, and all it’s various tendrils and offshoots over the years. You might not know that Vertigo Comics brought back three familiar Sandman titles and created a whole new one in an attempt to reinvigorate itself, which seems to have worked. Lucifer, The Dreamingand House of Whispers, the brand-new creation, are all continuing the venerable tradition of haunting, morally deep tale-telling, as is Books of Magic.

Writer Kat Howard, artist Tom Fowler, colorist Jordan Boyd, and letterer Todd Klein have taken up the task of continuing the story of one boy’s magical quest. In this issue, Timothy Hunter takes steps to intertwine all the current comics’ storylines much closer.

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Tim Hunter messes up

Last issue, Tim was having trouble sleeping, and he got himself a magical “familiar”, in the form of a big white owl. A bit Potter-ish, but it can be forgiven. This issue starts with our hero being a good pet owner, and trying to explain to said familiar that hanging out with a big ol’ bird makes him look conspicuous. Doctor Rose pawns the class off on the librarian to take care of something, and during that time Tim flirts badly and exposes his magical talents to the bully always picking on him. Books of Magic is hitting us with the slow burn, I guess, because there’s been a lot of school stuff that is pretty boring. Being caught causes him to make a mess, sending books everywhere, and the librarian sends the bully off to the nurse for a cut from a falling book before the bully can really start tearing into Tim about being able to do magic. Tim heads out after school to hang out with Mad Hettie, a magical and very old homeless person. They head off to do bum stuff.

Vertigo Comics

Evil librarians and magic keys are now part of the Books of Magic

Back in the library, the librarian is putting the fallen books away, all creepily lit, and comes across a book by Houdini with blood on it, from the bully’s cut. He does some weird magic to the book, and starts talking to voices we can’t hear, and we get the distinct notion that the librarian is a bad dude, planning to do Tim some harm. Somehow, the evil librarian motif seems dated. At home, Tim and his owl are building things; odd models of Tim and his dysfunctional family, fully functional. He has given his Dad-toy both arms, his Mom-toy is actually there, and he even made a little owl for the Tim-toy. His father’s good-night call inspires him to try hanging out in The Dreaming, to both avoid having terrible dreams and to possibly remember them. He had previously been given a free pass to chill by the old Dream, so he builds himself a key and opens a portal to The Dreaming.

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It’s easy to complain about things, and the minor problems with this piece of the story are perhaps related to having left school behind so long ago. Actually, this issue was pretty good; we have a new villain, and Timothy is on his way to The Dreaming, where things have NOT been going well. It will be exciting to see what a wizard will do in the land of dreams. What do you think will happen? Let us know in the comments section below.