Matt Johnson

Gutter Magic #1 of 4 – Comic Review

Decrease Font Size Increase Font Size Text Size Print This Page

Gutter Magic is a four-part series set in an alternate-history future where magic was the weapon of choice during the great World War.

See my previous reviews of Alabaster: The Good, the Bad, and the Bird #2 of 5 here and Rumble #9 here.

GUTTERMAGIC-01-cvrA-573ac-655x1000 (1)

Title: Gutter Magic #1 of 4
Writer: Rich Douek
Artist: Brett Barkley
Cover Artist: Brett Barkley
Publisher: IDW
Release Date: January 2016

Stay out of the gutter! Have Gutter Magic #1 delivered right to your device of choice like….magic!

Gutter Magic 1 is the entry issue of a four-part series.  It’s set in a steam-punkish world full of wizards gargoyles, goblins, skull-painted warriors and lays the groundwork for a story that should encompass a huge scope and cast some famous names/historical landmarks in a new context.

Gutter Magic opens 100 years after World War II, revealing a smoky grey world with lots of sketch lines giving depth to grotesque semi-realistic looking characters.  We meet our heroes, a man in a duster and steam-punk goggles, and a middle-aged goblin in a suit and trench, mid-burglary as they get interrupted by an angry sorcerer.  A battle between the practical and magical worlds ensues with said heroes narrowly escaping to the refuge of a dimly lit bar.  Shady characters abound and the two mains lay out a little backstory through conversation.  Moving smoothly outside into the night, we meet a sinister mustachioed type with an imp on his shoulder.  The imp informs him that the two heroes have been located.  The man is kind of cool looking, with a shaved head and what appears to be a painted or tattooed skull on his face.  The mustache gives him something of a snidely whiplash feel though.

We find ourselves outside during the day now, in a market filled with colored cloth stalls, Chinese lanterns, and various wares being peddled.  This is the goblin market.  Our heroes begin a new conversation but are interrupted by a mustachio man, a gang of toughs, and their leader, a short statured girl.  I’d be lying if I said the girl didn’t immediately remind me of Elizabeth from the Bioshock games.  Some fighting and chasing ensues and our heroes escape through a magic door that leads them and their pursuers through some Escher-esque set pieces.  A supposed break in the chase leads to a revelation about the human main character’s lineage just in time for the baddies to show up and throw a wrench in the works again.

I can’t quite put my finger on why, but Gutter Magic is the first thing I’ve grabbed to review so far that I haven’t absolutely been in love with.  It’s capably written and drawn, and the premise is one that could be very intriguing.  For some reason, though, the characters and art never fully grabbed me.  I want to really like it, and I’ll give the next three issues a shot, but as it stands right now I’m kind of ambivalent on this series.

NOTE:  It bothered me that I didn’t like this, so I chewed on it for a few days and revisited it and…nope.  I still feel the same.  Bummer.

If the premise or (somehow) my “meh” review catches your interest, or if you read this and decide I’m wrong and would like to find more that’s similar, check out Ignition City.  The feel is similar, as is the art, but you get Warren Ellis’ incomparable writing and a story that, for whatever reason, resonated with me a lot more heavily.

Leave us a Comment