There’s a few mini-series ending this week, but one that I will definitely miss each month is Smoke and Mirrors. The story of a magician lost in a world where magic really exists has not only been an entertaining story, but a heartfelt one at that. The final issue is good, if not a little predictable. Personally I don’t have a problem with a predictable ending because it means the creative team did their job in setting everything up for you the reader to figure out ahead of time. Not every comic book needs to have a Twilight Zone ending that throws you for a loop within the final moments and I appreciated the simplicity of the final issue as it become very emotional.
Ward is trapped in a dungeon with a dead body that is starting to stink. He’s a prisoner of Carroll the evil corporate head of the top corporation in the magic tech field. Ward’s young protégé Ethan can’t seem to stay away from him as he bust through the only vent to the room covered in dirt. Ethan almost instantly spots the dead body, but Ward is quick to distract him so that he doesn’t focus on it. He asks him to find his trunk and deliver it to Carroll at the front desk. Ethan does, but as he tries to leave the guard informs him that he’s going to need to stay put as someone comes to collect him as well. Soon Ethan finds himself lead to a room where he cannot cause any trouble while Carroll gives his big presentation.
Back down in the dungeon Carroll pays Ward a visit with his trunk in hand. He finds the gun and grasps it by the barrel, but pauses as he quickly concludes that it’s dangerous. He awakes the dead man from the afterlife and asks him to hold the gun and keep it away from him. Ward begins to explain the inner workings of the gun and what he uses it for. Carroll is intrigued by his magic styling’s and feels that he’s finally getting somewhere with Ward; the man he’s dubbed his new sage.
What has remained interesting about the world of Smoke and Mirrors is that liars and lies exist within the world, but the concept of misleading someone doesn’t. The world is just full of little nuances that are similar to our world, but almost one step behind on the scale. It’s definitely something that has helped this magical world have a richer and fuller feel to it. Costa does a marvelous job with Ethan’s character and really it becomes clear that this has been his story from the beginning as he desperately looked for replacement for his deceased father. Ward played the role and it gave him someone to talk and interact with on his lonely journey in the strange world.
I can’t say that the art has improved since the first issue, but then it really didn’t need to. Browne has been amazingly consistent throughout the series which has contributed to the strength of the story telling. The last handful of pages is definitely his most touching storytelling on the series as he captures the raw emotion that Costa’s script has called for. There are some intense emotions for sure and the art makes them easy to relate to.
This has been a great series to read month to month and I bet that it’s even better collected. IDW has become known for its licensed products, but for me its series like Smoke and Mirrors that I think of and wish I saw more of. Quality creator owned stories that breaks into new boundaries of the comic book medium and at the same time remind us that magic is always amazing no matter how old you are.
Writer: Mike Costa
Artist: Ryan Browne
Illusions: Jon Armstrong
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Release Date: 8/29/12