The Magic Order Volume #1 is the first title to come from Netflix’s new collaboration with writer Mark Millar. The streaming giant acquired Millar’s comic book publishing company Millarworld in 2017, with plans to bring a new slate of Millar comics to the streaming screen. The Magic Order Volume #1 is published by Image Comics, written by Mark Millar, with art by Olivier Coipel, colors by Dave Stewart, and lettering by Peter Doherty.
In a world where monsters once ruled, it was the magicians who ended their reign and freed humanity. Ever since, the Magic Order has stood vigil, defending humanity from magical threats and extradimensional nightmares alike. Think men in black but, with top hats. Now a new threat faces the order in the form of a magical assassin, hell-bent on eliminating all magicians who stand in their way. To save the order, the magical Moonstone family must band together and face this mysterious threat.
For the first entry in a multimedia empire, The Magic Order Vol 1 leaves a lot to be desired. The book bears more than a passing resemblance to Millar’s older works, most notably Wanted and The Secret Service. The books aren’t note-for-note copies, but readers familiar to Millar’s work are bound to experience some deja vu. There are too many similarities to ignore, which is a shame. At their best, Millar’s worlds are exciting and strange. Finding so much retreaded ground in The Magic Order Vol 1 feels like a missed opportunity.
The Magic Order Vol 1 sets itself up like a magic trick relying on narrative misdirection and sleight of hand. This makes sense given the subject matter but with only six issues, this volume struggles to pull this trick off. The Magic Order launches us into a magical world with its own rules and laws but doesn’t spend much time explaining them. This doesn’t have to be an issue, better comics have made do with less exposition, but Millar relies heavily on revelation. And in order for evolution to work, we need to have an understanding in order to shake it. You get the sense that when the curtain is lifted and the villains are unmasked we’re supposed to be shocked.
Like most of Miller’s work The Magic Order Vol 1 hovers above a dark edge. The book opens with a possessed child murdering his father with a knife and in true Millar fashion, things only get darker from there. In another scene, a character describes escaping her own abortion via magic, which was about as uncomfortable to read as it was to type.
Whether The Magic Order Vol 1‘s darker elements are in bad taste remains subjective. However, I personally felt they did little to enhance the book, and actively distracted me from the narrative. You got to wonder if this is what Netflix had in mind when they acquired Millarworld.
For all of its magic and wonder, The Magic Order Vol 1 brings little to the table. With a well-trodden plot and sparse character work, The Magic Order Vol 1gets lost in its own darkness. Maybe Netflix will have better luck in its adaptation.
The Magic Order Vol. 1
For all of its magic and wonder, The Magic Order Vol 1 brings little to the table.