Books of Magick: Life During Wartime #2 Review

Reviewer: Chris Delloiacono
Story Title: Storm Warning

Written by: Si Spencer
From a story by: Neil Gaiman & Si Spencer
Illustrated by: Dean Ormston
Colored and Separated by: Fiona Stephenson
Lettered by: Todd Klein
Cover Art by: Frank Quitely
Consultation by: Neil Gaiman
Assistant Editor: Mariah Huehner
Editor: Shelly Bond
Publisher: Vertigo > DC Comics

In the teaser for my review of the first issue of Books of Magick: Life During Wartime I touted this book as the “Ultimate” version of Tim Hunter. The second issue bears my theory out. This is a revitalization of the Books of Magic franchise. For fans that have been with Tim for a long time there are plenty of old friends, but we’re in an alternate world that isn’t saddled in previous continuity. I’m pretty sure the Tim Hunter we’re dealing with in this series is the same as the previous incarnation, only he’s dropped into an alternate reality. Yet, I’m not certain.

Si Spencer, with a story assist from BoM creator Neil Gaiman, used the first issue to introduce the war-torn Earth. The players were put in position, and some broad concepts were introduced. This second issue goes more into detail of the why behind the conflict and who’s allied with who. That’s not to say that all of the secrets have been revealed, because there are clearly some elements that we have not been made privy to yet. All told, the need-to-know and what-we-know are nicely balanced. I feel disoriented by the shocking events of the first two issues, but I’m not lost.

The issue focuses on two main areas. Firstly, we get more evolvement of Tim Hunter. He’s the focus, in one form or another, for all of the warring factions. Tim’s considered the savior by many and a symbol by others. He’s been hidden away on a world without any type of magic, but his uncanny knack for doing magic where there should be none is slowly manifesting, and it’s making him a target. Much of the drama this issue concerns a villainous presence that is horning his way into Tim’s life. The second portion centers on Zatanna as she attempts to procure the location of the key to the second Book of Magick. While we’re not sure of the exact purpose behind the book or Tim’s involvement we’re clearly being led slowly down that path.

Spencer’s script elevates the tension from the previous issue. Now that we’re more familiar with the concept and the characters, Spencer explores the world and the motivations a bit more. The meaning behind the title becomes much clearer as well. Unlike previous incarnations of the BoM franchise this title is not going to be a spiritual quest, with rampant zeitgeist, mumbo-jumbo, and ample parts angst. There doesn’t appear to be any “beating around the bush” present. A war of magic is coming and it’s going to be huge!

Dean Ormston once again turns in a stellar performance. The vast array of monsters and humans are rendered with exceptional style. There’s a creepy air mixed with a sense of impending dread evident on each page. Ormston brings a sense of order to a book that will soon be steeped in chaos.

As a longtime fan of Tim Hunter, I couldn’t be more thrilled with this book. Si Spencer and Dean Ormston (with the help of Neil Gaiman) have made Tim Hunter approachable to new readers, yet a grand story that fans like myself can love too. This is grand fantasy in the tradition of Star Wars or Lord of the Rings. Vertigo has finally gotten Tim Hunter and their Books of Magic(k) franchise on the right track.