The Comic You Should Be Reading This Week: ‘Smoke and Mirrors’ #5

Senior Contributor
08.30.12 7 Comments

IDW has been doing a lot right lately with its new books. Night of 1000 Wolves, The Hypernaturals, Extermination… they’re quietly putting out some of the best comics in the business right now.

But even by that standard, Smoke and Mirrors is something genuinely special: a new twist on an old idea.

The concept of a world just like ours, except powered by magic, is a chestnut. What makes Mike Costa’s writing such a joy is how he commit to the concept. When Terry Ward, the stage magician stuck in a world full of sorcerers blasphemes, the kid he’s been training tells him “You really need to explain to me how this ‘Cheesus’ hex works.’

The entire series has been rich in that kind of detail. The world Terry has stumbled into is very much like our own in some respects, but profoundly different in ways that aren’t immediately apparent and aren’t necessarily emphasized. Costa never goes out of his way to point out the differences… he lets them appear organically. The same is true of the characters; they may have godlike powers, most of them, but they’re all too human.

It’s all backed by sharp artwork by Ryan Browne, who wisely emphasizes people over effects. Browne keeps the magic largely understated, and it works.

Yes, I know, this is the conclusion to a miniseries. But it’s worth picking up all the issues and reading it from the beginning, and IDW will be issuing it as a trade in a short while. It’s worth reading, and I’m pulling hard for volume two.

And now, while I’m at it, I owe the creative team behind Looker an apology.

Granted, Looker is far from perfect as a book, but it’s nowhere near the total train wreck I was expecting. Ian Edginton and Mike S. Miller delivered a solid book that’s better than it looks at first glance. It’s no classic, but I’m not sorry I read it. So, sorry I thought your book was a train wreck, guys. Next time I’ll pay more attention.

Finally, I just wanted to note that this week’s issue of AvX: VS actually had a genuinely effective fight between Black Panther and Storm. Not as in “awesome ass-kicking”, more as in “I wish there was more stuff like this in the main series.” Jason Aaron delivers a fight that works as action and also as a genuinely sad moment between two people being pulled apart by forces greater than themselves. In a largely disappointing and inconsistent crossover, it’s spare, effective, and emotional.

And with that, I open the floor to you, the commenters: Let’s talk some comics.

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