Tuesday, August 30, 2016


I've just finished a blogpost examining the 1990-91 BOOKS OF MAGIC mini-series as a "mythcomic," and I would be remiss not to mention that it's also one of the best "continuity-fests" ever served up by DC comics.

As noted in the post, the narrative focuses on giving Tim Hunter-- a British teenager with the potential to become a "super-magus"-- a tour of DC's magical universe with the help of four major occultists: the Phantom Stranger, Mister E, John Constantine, and-- barely seen in comics since the Golden Age-- Doctor Occult.

What I want to note here, though, are the narratives many continuity delights, such as:

Tim's encounter with Golden Age characters Zatara and  Sargon the Sorcerer, both slain in one of Alan Moore's SWAMP THING stories.

His meeting with Constantine's apparent romantic conquests, Zatanna and Madame Xanadu, and an amusing tete-a-tete between sorcerer-villains The Wizard and Felix Faust. (I'm still geek enough to remember protesting, "But Faust is so much more powerful than the Wizard!")

The appearance of characters as obscure as Nightmaster in Book Three, and a complicated future history involving everything from the Legion of Super-Heroes to FLASH-foe Abra Kadabra.

An insider's delight, to be sure, but no less a delight.

Saturday, August 27, 2016


I've recently finished Lev Grossman's MAGICIANS trilogy, which probably deserves another full reading to take in all of its themes with respect to magical thinking, free will, and so on. But for now I'm only moved to analyze the trilogy in terms of its mythos.

I won't go into as much detail as I have on THE ARCHETYPAL ARCHIVE about Northrop Frye's four "mythoi," or patterns of literary myth, but I want to suss out which of these patterns best describes the trilogy.

In the essay FANTASIES OF INNOCENCE AND EXPERIENCE I examined the possible categorizations for Wally Wood's KING OF THE WORLD. That graphic work, like MAGICIANS, has the surface appearance of aligning with the adventure-mythos, because the plots involve "invigorative elements" like magical battles, explorations of strange worlds, etc.

I ended up viewing KING OF THE WORLD as an "irony" despite all of these elements, because so much of KING was devoted to undermining the conventional meanings of adventure-tropes. And MAGICIANS could be interpreted as an ironic take on the straightforward fantasy-tropes found in C.S, Lewis's NARNIA books, whose influence Grossman has cited.

However, Grossman seems to be pursuing different themes than simple dissimulation.  His young, college-age-ish protagonists have neither the innocence nor the "good vs. evil" designs of Harry Potter. But like Potter-- whose mythos I've pegged as a "drama"-- they are characters who are largely defined by the radical of *purgation,* as they slough off their old, imperfect personas and work clumsily toward new, somewhat more mature ones.

More later, possibly.