**Note: I was fortunate enough to obtain an advanced review copy of The Magician: The Long Day, which is about half of the finished graphic novel. For more information on the project, visit The Magician’s Kickstarter here.
The Magician: The Long Day could easily be summed up as a crime tale about nasty dirt bags doing nasty dirt bag things to other nasty dirt bags, but that would be doing the book a great injustice. But I will say that the nasty business in this book is nasty as all hell. There’s an asshole-puckering torture scene early on that is particularly awful.
Luckily, writer, David Brown and artist, D.N.S. don’t rely too heavily on the nasty bits to propel their story forward. In fact, what you’re not shown is just as powerful. Before the torture scene in those first few pages, there’s a gut wrenching story about a puppy and a buzz saw that actually lessens the blow of the what follows (or enhances it; it’s kinda hard to tell). What the creative team has done here is crafted a rather well-paced, measured slice of comic noir doused with a bucket of 1970s exploitation cinema (see: aforementioned asshole-puckering torture scene).
**Spoiler Alerrrgh!!! Barf!**
The plot of The Magician is ostensibly a McGuffin story regarding a blue duffle bag that belongs to a vicious gangster and the hatchet-wielding hitman named Eugene (who is seriously fucking disturbed) dispatched to retrieve it. Toss in some low-level thugs, junkies, and other unsavory characters, you get a general idea as to what you’re getting into.
**”Hi, I’m Eugene and I’ll be serving you gangland justice tonight…don’t mind all the creepy shit about me.”**
While some of the dialogue is a bit jarring (there’s a scene between two goons about to rob a convenience store that just didn’t work for me; but of course not everyone is Brian Azzarello), Brown’s writing is really tight and his sense of gallows humor works well for the story. D.N.S.’ stellar art work stylistically vacillates between early Sin City books and classic EC horror comics like Tales From the Crypt that, coupled with Brown’s humor and love of gore, revisit a foregone era in comics.
If you were to flip through this book without reading it, you’d think it be a horror comic and not a crime book. In a way, it’s sort of both, which is not a bad thing.
The Magician: The Long Day is a refreshing read, one that reminds me of eighth grade when I used to read old copies of Creepy and Erie that an uncle passed down to me. I’m excited to see what comes next in the story and what these guys decide to tackle as their next project.
This is highly recommended.
Final Grade: B