REVIEW: ‘Magic: The Gathering: Chandra,’ Vol. 1

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Magic: The Gathering: Chandra Vol. 1

Magic: The Gathering: Chandra Vol. 1 is published by IDW Publishing, written by Vita Ayala, with art done by Harvey Tolibao, assisted by Tristan Jurolan, colors by Joana Lafuente, lettering by Christa Meisner & Jake Wood, with series edits by Zac Boone & Tom Waltz

This collected series follows the Pyromancing Planeswalker, Chandra Nalaar. In the world of Magic, there are planes and worlds similar to a multiverse. However one cannot travel to them unless you’re a Planeswalker, someone with a large amount of mana (magical energy). This story begins with our courageous, eager, and hotheaded heroine on the plane of Dominaria, rescuing a village from attacking sentient plant life. In the letterboxes, Chandra speaks to the reader, telling us who she is and a piece of her story while in the heat of action.

Her current location in Dominaria is lush and green, and as Chandra’s battle continues we see a piece of her power in glorious red coloring as she defeats her foes. Lafuente, Tolibao, and Jurolan create each amazing world, feeling like I was standing right beside Chandra and making me want to see more of the worlds she visited. Being a Magic: The Gathering player and seeing names of planes I recognized coupled with Changra fighting monsters in different biomes got me giddy with excitement.

Magic: The Gathering: Chandra Vol. 1

I love that the author, Ayala, wrote this novel in the first person. You truly get to understand Chandra and can easily place yourself in her shoes. Although courageous, eager, and hothead, Chandra is going through things. She’s anxious, she’s worried, she’s hurting, depressed, and angry. Ayala wanted to show readers how human a powerful being like a Planeswalker can be. 

Chandra can’t sit still and she needs to help people as she can. She continues telling us her story, moving from plane to plane. We learn that her pain and strife comes from the battle she and her friends had with Nicol Bolas, an Elder Dragon Planeswalker. These events took place in War of the Spark: Ravnica (Magic: The Gathering), a novel by Greg Weisman. I am currently reading War of the Spark and I was happy that Ayala does not majorly spoil much of those events. They give the gist of what happened and lets us know that there were casualties. With Magic: The Gathering: Chandra being so captivating, this may spark readers into sinking their teeth into the backstory in War of the Spark.

While trying to confront her past and the pain that comes with it, Chandra comes face to face with a familiar adversary. I am not well versed in Magic: The Gathering so I needed to do a little research knowing that he appears in War of the Spark. Readers will ask who this character is, but Ayala makes it clear that this character is no friend and what his motives are: to further the anguish Chandra is in. The way this villain looks and the powers he possesses definitely wanted to make me learn more of this character while continuing to be fixated on our pyromancer’s development and journey. At the beginning of the book, we see our heroine being a total badass, letting us know her shortcomings and what she’s going through. However, she did not confront what she needed in order to heal.  This enemy sought to take advantage of Chandra’s pain and use it against her. It’s at this point you can see the catalyst and the growth of our protagonist.

Magic: The Gathering: Chandra Vol. 1

Readers will appreciate Chandra’s character, story, and possibly relate to her plight. Chandra’s character development is extremely cathartic as she confronts her emotional turmoil. By story’s end, I feel Chandra becomes a much better person and planeswalker who understands she still has a lot to learn. I definitely learned a lot about myself and habits when struggling with my emotional issues, also making me appreciate Chandra a whole lot more. I too suffer from anger issues and depression. Chandra tried to do things on her own, not taking the support of her friends who knew what she was going through and experienced what she experienced in the War of the Spark. I know all too well of isolating myself and pushing away the people that care about me. But to see Ayala reinforce that it’s okay not to be strong all the time and lean on those that care about you the most, it was like a gentle reminder.

Magic: The Gathering: Chandra Vol. 1 is an amazingly easy read and enjoyable story thanks to Ayala’s talent. I never got lost or confused due to the amazing lettering and letterboxing by Meisner and Wood. I loved it when Chandra speaks to the reader,  with letterboxes ornate and in a reasonable space in speech bubbles. You are further drawn into Chandra’s world thanks to the art and vibrancy of Lafuente, Tolibao, and Jurolan, making you want to experience more.

Magic: The Gathering: Chandra Vol. 1 is out this January 2020 wherever comic books and graphic novels are sold.

Magic: The Gathering: Chandra Vol. 1
5

TL;DR

Magic: The Gathering: Chandra Vol. 1 is an amazingly easy read and enjoyable story thanks to Ayala’s talent. I never got lost or confused due to the amazing lettering and letterboxing by Meisner and Wood. I loved it when Chandra speaks to the reader,  with letterboxes ornate and in a reasonable space in speech bubbles. You are further drawn into Chandra’s world thanks to the art and vibrancy of Lafuente, Tolibao, and Jurolan, making you want to experience more.