Monday, March 9, 2015

Guest Review - Mandrake the Magician #1

   We have one more review from our pal Glen Davis, who has kindly provided a week's worth of excellent columns, giving Chuck a much-needed break.

   (Our invitation is open to one and all - if you'd like to send in reviews for this blog, just send them to us at the email address in the right-hand column.)

   Glen's post today is all about the most famous magician in comics history - Mandrake!

   Dynamite is giving the King's Features heroes another try in the world of comic books. It makes sense, seeing the wealth of characters controlled by the newspaper syndicate. 

   Even now, Dynamite is barely even scratching the surface.

   Since the days of the old Defenders of the Earth cartoon, Mandrake the Magician usually gets short shrift in these revivals. Even before that, in the 1970s, Flash Gordon and The Phantom got paperback prose book series, but Mandrake never did. This is a shame, as Mandrake was Lee Falk's first creation, and inspired dozens of other characters, including DC's Zatara.

   Now Dynamite attempts to redress this situation by giving Mandrake his own mini-series in what some are calling the King Comics explosion.

   The series starts out depicting a scene that led up to the events in the King's Watch mini-series, starting this comics line: Narda, Mandrake's love, goes to his arch-enemy (and half-brother Luciphor) The Cobra. Well, when you name a kid Luciphor, that's what you have to expect, I guess.

   Now five years later, after the invasion of Mongo, Mandrake puts on a benefit to raise money for charity. He gestures hypnotically, and puts on quite a show for his audience, when another magician, the beauteous Karma appears, and they combine in putting on the show. 

   In the comic strip, Karma is actually the girlfriend of Lothar, Mandrake's best friend. Lothar is currently moonlighting as the Phantom in the concurrent mini-series of that name by Dynamite. (Not to be confused with the Phantom series featuring the same property published by Hermes)

   Finally, it ends in a pretty good cliff hanger. 

   A good effort, and the cartoonish art by Jeremy Treece helps to sell the surrealist magic at work in the book.

Grade: B


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