Story Title: Signs and Wonders (Part 1 of 6)
Reviewer: Paul Sebert
Writer: Mike Carey
Art: Mike Perkins
Coloring: Guru eFX
Editor: Marckenzie Cadenhave, Mark Paniccia, & Joe Q.
Publisher: Marvel Pop-Art Productions
They walk among us. Gifted young adults with extraordinary, inhuman powers that just want to fit in. No it’s not another X-Men spin-off it’s Mike Carey and Mike Perkin’s new title Spellbinders.
Spellbinders is Marvel’s answer to Jeffrey Blitz’s academy award nominated 2002 documentary “Spellbound,” an exploration of the hidden world of extraordinarily gifted spellers. The competition between these youth is incredibly high staked, as we see in the book’s introduction sequence when an adolescent boy mispronounces a word and accidentally turns himself into a pile of creepy, crawly lizards. Such is the cost of bad grammar.
We are then introduced to a girl named Kim who’s family is moving across the country to begin a new life. She manages to catch a glimpse of the boy’s fate implying that she too is a speller. We’re then introduced three more kids Paul, Mason, & Renata who have already formed their own exclusive clique of spellers. It seems that a guy by the name of Foley, the friend of the ill-fated Lizard kid is trying to become a super-speller and wants to lure some manner of uber-grammatical ace to the town.
The rest of the issue follows Kim arriving in the town of Salem Massachusetts and her first day at school. It appears that there’s something weird going on as she’s attacked by some manner of elemental being. Then there’s much talk of “Sparkle Hags” and “Wicks” but very little explanation of what these things mean until Barrow the cute exposition boy next door shows up. There’s a number of surprises in this first issue and to it’s credit it ends with a heck of a cliffhanger.
The problem with this book is that alas we the readers feel as though we’ve dropped into the middle of things without much clue of who these people are or how their spells work. I suppose this is intended to help us sympathize with Kim’s plight but for the most part it just serves to confuse the reader. In fact now that I reread this issue I’m pretty sure it has nothing at all to do with spelling and may be about witches or something.
The art by Mike Perkins is nice and clean and the colors by Guru eFX always add a nice larger-than-life feel to the book. Alas by the end of issue #1 we’re given very little reason to care for these characters or the situation they’re in. Alas compared to some of Marvel’s other teenage hero books; Runaways, Ultimate Spider-Man, AraÃƒÂ±a, etc. this book feels off to a weak start.