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Mike Costa – Smoke & Mirrors

February 15, 2013

6. Smoke & Mirrors by Mike Costa, Ryan Browne, and Jon Armstrong (2012)

Length: 136 pages
Genre: Graphic Novel, Fantasy

Started/Finished: 03 February 2013

Where did it come from? The library.
Why do I have it? It was a fantasy graphic novel that I hadn’t heard of, but looked right up my alley.

What good are card tricks
when you’re stuck in a world where
magic works for real?

Summary: Terry Ward is a magician – card tricks, illusions, sleight-of-hand, he’s mastered it all. But when he finds himself in a world where magic is real and used to power even the most basic technology, all of his tricks avail him little when it comes to getting him home. When a young boy names Ethan crosses his path, Terry begins to teach him some of the basics of stage magic. But in doing so, he risks revealing his existence to those in power, who can wield real – and terrible – magic against him in pursuit of his secrets.

Review: I thought this was a great idea for a story – a stage magician trapped in a world where magic was real. If magic is what powers your cars and your computers, how would you react to a disappearing rabbit, or a basic card trick? So, I was on board from the beginning, but where this book really got me hooked, but good, was that it did a card trick right on the pages. Terry asks his marks to pick a card, any card, so of course I played along. And it worked! The magician – who is nothing more than ink on paper – read my mind! Once you know how it’s done, it’s simple, but the amazing thing is not the trick, but the fact that Costa et al. actually gave me that half-second of amazed “How did they do that?!?” shock. It totally sold me; regardless of how the rest of the story panned out, I would have been a happy girl.

Luckily, the rest of the story is also quite interesting. There are other “play at home” illusions scattered throughout, none with as much punch as that first one, but it definitely made reading a more interactive experience. (There’s also an extended authors’ note at the back that discusses the history behind most of the stage magic stuff, which was interesting.) The story itself plays out in some neat ways, although the villain reminded me a little too much of Hank Scorpio from The Simpsons for me to take him entirely seriously. Otherwise, the art reminded me quite a lot of Y: The Last Man: clean lines and a fair amount of detail but not cartoony-looking figures or an over-reliance on inked shading. 4 out of 5 stars.

Recommendation: Definitely recommended to anyone who likes fantasy, magic, and graphic novels. This is a relatively recent release, but I can think of so many people that would love it, and it’s a shame it’s not better known.

This Review on LibraryThing | This Book on LibraryThing | This Book on Amazon

Other Reviews: I couldn’t find any; it’s a shame that more people haven’t heard of this book! Did I miss yours? Leave a comment with the link and I’ll add it in.

First Line: “Abra-kadabra!”

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. February 16, 2013 6:41 pm

    It sounds good! I’m adding it to my library list to check out. Is it a stand-alone, or part of a series?

  2. February 17, 2013 5:51 pm

    This sounds amazing! I’ve been wishing for a new standalone comic (or a series one would be okay too), and I love love love reading about magic. I’ll have to see if I can swing by the comic book store before jury duty this week.

    • February 17, 2013 7:49 pm

      Jenny – Sounds right up your alley! Any recommendations for books about magic? (Stage magic, I mean; I’ve obviously read plenty of books about magic-magic.)

      And good luck with jury duty!

  3. February 18, 2013 12:53 pm

    That card trick thing sounds so cool! I want to read this just to see it. :-)

    • February 23, 2013 2:32 pm

      Joanna – It’s simultaneously really simple and totally amazing.

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