REVIEW: ‘The Magicians,’ Issue #4

Reading Time: 4 minutes

The Magicians #4, which is published by BOOM! Studios’ imprint Archaia, is written by Lilah Sturges, illustrated by Pius Bak, colored by Gabriel Cassata, and lettered by Mike Fiorentino. The previous issue deals with the group still being in shock that Sophie isn’t dead. With Dean Fogg and Keshawn out of the loop in regards to what happened, they make a choice to train the entire group in how to use battle magic. Given that battle magic is extremely dangerous, Dean Fogg and Keshawn outline the strict rules and procedures of how their training is going to go. However, tensions are still at an all-time high because Sophie’s somehow alive and they don’t have a plan on how to handle explaining what happened. The division between Brakebills students and hedge magicians starts building up again and ominous forces are beginning to make their moves.

The Magicians #4 picks up with the aftermath of the massacre that took the lives of multiple teachers in the library. Dean Fogg attempts to assure the students that things are under control. However, this doesn’t stop the fact that some students are suspicious about the attacks. They feel as if this attack is associated with the hedge magicians that were invited to join the Brakebills student-faculty. However, Dean Fogg and Keshawn gather their students and confess the real threat. The attack in the library was only the beginning and the Brakebills students and hedge magicians are in for the fight of their lives.

"The Magicians" #4

During the first issue, there was a brief moment that touched upon the reactions that several students had about the hedge magicians being at Brakebills. It made for an interesting plot point in that comic, but I wish that more of that was included in issue #2. I was amazed to see this being brought back in The Magicians #4, even if it was only for a few pages. With two completely different ideologies of magic being brought together, there are bound to be major conflicts. I understand that the series is now getting into who the main villain will be, but I just wish more of this conflict would be included. This conflict could very well be used against the hedge magicians during their upcoming battles.

I was quite surprised that it took this long to introduce the main villain of the series. However, I can’t help but say that I’m completely awestruck by the way they were introduced. For one, having a hand in the murder of multiple Brakebills professors without raising any alarms was incredible. The villain is non-binary, which does a lot for representation not just within the world that Lev Grossman created but also within comics as well. I’ll be interested to see how their identity shapes the way the character is written. However, I have an issue with the backstory they were given. I’m quite tired of the “powered person seeking more power” trope. It would have been nice had something more original been given as a backstory.

A big portion of The Magicians #4 dealt with Dean Fogg and Keshawn coming forward and confessing the truth to the students they’re working with. It would’ve been a different story had the team received proper training and been prepared for the upcoming dangers. The fact that the group hasn’t necessarily mastered all there is to battle magic brings about a more interesting story. They never received the level of education to prepare for a full-scale war against an enemy that’s power-hungry. I’m interested to see how their team dynamic is tested and how much this will change them. While the original Magicians series focused on the more fantastical, the comic series has shown the potential to be a much more grounded story.

"The Magicians" #4

In terms of the composition and layout of the comic itself, the art, lettering, and colors helped tremendously with its flow. There was much more dialogue included in this issue than the others, which at times made it a bit difficult to follow along. I understand that there was a need to explain and reveal more details, but there was a bit too much for just one issue. The art and colors served as a break from the dialogue, which was already difficult to read on a computer screen. Bak’s art style and the colors done by Fiorentino correlated with the more fantastical feeling that Grossman developed. I couldn’t imagine a comic series within the world of The Magicians franchise looking any different than this one does.

Overall, I really enjoyed reading The Magicians #4 and was left with my jaw open with the big reveal at the end of the comic. It’s something completely unexpected, but it works within the story. The various other elements included in this issue made it stand out from the rest. I’m just eager to see what kind of chaos the villain of the series will cause. I haven’t felt this excited about a villain since reading Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and seeing Voldemort come back in full form. It’s incredible to see that any work of literature still has this effect on me.

The Magicians #4 will is available for purchase now wherever comic books are sold.

The Magicians #4
4.5

TL;DR

Overall, I really enjoyed reading The Magicians #4 and was left with my jaw open with the big reveal at the end of the comic.