What If? Magik #1 Review

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Magik is a character I’ve always been fascinated with. She’s a mutant, but also connected to hell, and also connected to magic. She’s a unique mutant for all of these reasons who lives amongst a sea of mutants who generally have a quirky power and not much more. It’s why Leah Williams’ take on the character is that much more complicated and a fascinating take that may just make you wish it was canon.
So what’s it about?

Why does this matter?
Marvel’s What If? line of comics continues this time with a mutant hero who is a tad bit obscure, but one of the most popular amongst X-Men fandom. This is also a story about being lost at a young age, angry, and abused in a way that requires real healing that may only come from one of the best heroes in the universe.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?

Damn, that’s dark. Credit: Marvel Comics
I wasn’t sure what to expect from this issue in part because I’m not hugely into Magik herself. The truth is I began reading and slowly became enamored with the narrative since Williams draws you into Magik’s hard life. She’s never had a kind hand to guide her and that kind hand finally comes in the form of Doctor Strange, a character who is typically egocentric and a bit of a loner — but here the combo works wonderfully. It also makes a lot of sense and it’s a bit surprising these two haven’t crossed paths more given Magik’s connection to Hell.
Doctor Strange serves as a great mentor at a time when Magik is young and emotionally vulnerable, but also capable of protecting herself. As they grow their relationship Magik grows her powers and it’s fun to see how Williams leans into this realm of the Marvel universe as opposed to the mutant universe. The story never seems to go out of bounds selling Doctor Strange or Magic short and instead steers their relationship in ways that will make you want more. This would be a seriously good movie (hint-hint Marvel).

Artist Filipe Andrade with Chris O’Halloran on colors set a refined tone for the story working in shadows and light well. Andrade doesn’t skimp on details and truly excels when layouts beg for more panels than is customary. Trippy magic-realm panels are strong too and the attitude of both Strange and Magik shine through beautifully. They have strong personalities, yet you never lose sight of the respect they have for each other.

Do you just freeze folks all the time, Strange? Credit: Marvel Comics
It can’t be perfect can it?


There is a confrontation near the end of the book that kicks off the climax that left me somewhat confused. It’s a mix of the art not directly showing what Magik does mixed with captions that are too obtuse for their own good. This scene is hard to follow too because Doctor Strange seems to disappear and then reappear conveniently. The overall point of this confrontation isn’t lost, but how it goes down made me confused.
Is it good?
A good What If? comic anyone can enjoy because it hits home the compelling characters within. At its core it’s simply a good story that is well written and keeps your interest up while also begging for a feature film adaptation.
 
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