Ricky Church reviews Mystik U #1…
While the DC Universe is filled with colourful superheroes like Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman and the rest of the Justice League that save the world and fight a ton of supervillains, it is also filled with quite a few magical heroes who fight demons and other magical foes. They haven’t been given much of a spotlight lately, but DC’s new bi-monthly series by Alisa Kwitney aims to change that with Mystik U.
The first issue of Mystik U is like DC meeting Harry Potter and X-Men after Zatanna finds herself taken to Mystik University, a place where people could study and harness their magical and supernatural abilities. The first issue combines an entertaining cast of characters with an interesting premise as one of the new students is bound to become a powerful force called The Malevolence that will destroy the world in seven years time.
Kwitney writes a good take on Zatanna, one who is younger than she typically is in the DC comics. She’s an engaging character with a good sense of humour that readers can identify with with immediately. All she wants at the start of the story is to be recognized as a good magician and be equal with her father, who doesn’t think she has ‘the gift’. One odd beat, though, is how she transitions from mourning the potential death of her father to being wide-eyed and giddy about Mystik U. The change happens a bit too fast as her father is never really brought up again in the issue, but otherwise Zatanna’s characterization and relationship with her fellow students is pretty well handled.
The supporting cast is just as entertaining as Zatanna. Its nice to see Kwitney using less-known or almost forgotten magical DC characters, like Sargon the Sorcerer or Mister E. Sebastian Faust is a social rebel that looks more like James Dean than a wizard while Enchantress alternates between a sweet looking girl and a punk hipster depending on the dominant personality. Sargon provides a bit of comic relief as the socially awkward one of the bunch while the new character Pia is an interesting addition to the magical corner of DC, adding another fish out of water in the school.
Mystik U has Runaways‘ Mike Norton doing the artwork that compliments the tone of Kwitney’s script. He captures Zatanna’s youth pretty well and includes a nice amount of detail in his facial expressions and background. One example is the differences between Enchantress when she’s June Moone and the sorceress, particularly in a set of panels where Moone is changing into the Enchantress in the background and is putting on make-up, dying her hair and giving herself a new hairstyle.
Some of the magical entities are also drawn well, such as the horde of demons that captures Zatanna’s father to Plop, the school’s new slime monster. Jordie Bellaire makes good use of the colours on these creatures and characters as well, giving some of the school’s settings an eerie feeling whether its in the cemetery or Dr. Psyche’s office.
Overall Mystik U is a good introductory issue to this miniseries that engages you with its characters and fresh take on DC’s magical heroes. Its a fun story with an interesting premise that Kwitney and Norton work well with. Its just a shame that this is a bi-monthly series, meaning we’ll have to wait two months as opposed to the usual one for the next issue, but it makes the next chapter that much more enticing.