Of the four releases from Dynamite’s King Features Syndicate 100th Anniversary celebration, “Mandrake the Magician” #1 is the furthest departure visually. Jeremy Treece’s artwork is much more gestural in style and gives the characters rangy expressions and effervescent energy. His characters are a blend between Humberto Ramos and Skottie Young, as they are composed of scratchy, organic lines and dynamic angles with big eyes, squared-off fingertips and grand, eccentric expressions.
Treece also handles the colors for “Mandrake: The Magician” #1, which makes this comic simply sparkle with energy. Treece uses a lot of fine lines to add depth and shading in his drawings and, as his own colorist, the lines carry through nicely. He is able to preserve the line work and adds in tremendous depth and atmosphere through the colors, patterns and designs around and through his drawings. Some of the figures are shifty on the backgrounds, but that can easily be dismissed as a trick of light or residual imagery from the magic at use in this tale. Letterer Marshall Dillon adds a final coat of polish with well-appointed balloons and tight location labels. When the demon Acheron speaks, Dillon puts cold emptiness and violent rumbling into the word balloons.
While “Mandrake: The Magician” #1 is part of the King Features Syndicate celebration and deals with the repercussions following the “Kings Watch” series, writer Roger Langridge packs a lot of fun into this comic and does a solid job of making it feel independent while still integrated into a larger universe. Langridge makes this story one about redemption as Mandrake tries to provide some light for a struggling world, but the writer also takes the time to tell a cautionary tale of the cost of magic and the power of belief in validating magic.
“King: Mandrake the Magician” #1 is a great addition to the King Features celebration and a nice introduction to (or reminder of) one of the oldest comic book magicians. Langridge and Treece give readers plenty to absorb here, including the source of Mandrake’s motivation and the ever-expanding scope of his world. The opening chapter of a four-part series, “Mandrake: The Magician” #1 is a strong start for what promises to be a fun adventure.