I’ve been absolutely enthralled by The Magic Order. The depth and intensity of experience it is able to pack into each issue surpasses anything I am reading at the moment or have read at any point this year. Just three issues in it has already become, without a doubt, my favorite comic of 2018.
But to be honest, and partly because I’ve been loving this series so much, part of me has been mentally preparing myself for what I feared would be an inevitable so-so issue somewhere in the middle of the first story arc. After all, it is difficult and rare to make each and every issue of an arc be spectacular, even when you have writers and artists on the level of Mark Millar and Olivier Coipel.
Well, perhaps there may yet be a so-so or a pretty-good-but-not-great issue at some point in this series’ future, but I am happy to report that time is not yet here because issue #3 of The Magic Order continues the mind-blowing, jaw-dropping, stupefied grin-inducing, “holy s**t” eliciting, virtuoso storytelling standard set by the first two issues.
While issues #1 and #2 both began with shockers, issue #3 wisely doesn’t take that same route as it would start to feel like an overused gimmick at this point. It opens instead with a thrilling chase scene of sorts, the kind where—thanks to some dazzling panel sequencing—you can feel the thump of a body as it falls to the floor, hear the deafening rattle of a train as it hurtles through a tunnel.
After this pulse-quickening opener we are treated to the most emotionally resonant handful of pages in the series thus far, which takes place entirely within the confines of a car between two characters. The scene is all the more remarkable for conveying depth of emotion entirely through the use of lighting, angles, and nuanced facial expressions. The understated yet poignant brilliance of this scene reminds you, in case you ever forgot, that you are in the hands of a master artist.
Speaking of art, it’s possible that what I’m about to say next may entirely be a figment of my imagination and yet I feel compelled to say it anyway, and that is that I swear that somehow Coipel’s art looks even more amazing in this issue. I mean, yes, the first two issues already firmly established The Magic Order’s visual sumptuousness, but about halfway into issue #3 I became convinced that what I was sensing wasn’t entirely a figment of my imagination. And then it struck me: issue #3 has more character close-ups than any of the other issues so far. This, then, makes sense in terms of what I initially perceived as his art looking even better. All these close-ups simply allow Coipel to etch deeper lines of feeling and humanity into the visages of the Moonstone family members we’ve come to care about.
This applies even to chief villain Madame Albany who, thankfully, is given some complexity in this issue—not in the sense of making her sympathetic but in the sense of making her more enigmatic even as we begin to learn more about her motives which, so far, come across as both believable and yet perplexing.
Now, I mentioned that this issue doesn’t begin with a shocker like the first two did, but that didn’t mean that there isn’t a shocker. It just comes later in the issue is all. And when it does come, it’s like something on a par with the best of Game of Thrones’ shockers. It’s a pretty bold move on the part of Mark Millar and makes me curious to see how (or if) a certain character will be able to make good on a promise to deliver a “surprise up his sleeve.”
Whether that character is able to deliver the surprise or not, I already can’t wait for issue #4 and to see what other surprises this series and the creative team behind it have up their own devilishly sorcerous sleeves.