Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Mandrake the Magician

   Here's further proof that we're living in a Golden Age for comic reprints!

   Mandrake the Magician is one of the first super-powered comic heroes of all time, and this full-color reprint from Titan Books focuses on Sunday pages from 1935 to 1937.

   The character seems a bit quaint these days with his top hat and tuxedo, and we can cringe a bit at the characterization of his friend Lothar, a powerful African who speaks (and sometimes acts) childishly, but often saves the day for Mandrake.

   The opening storyline also features a female assistant, the beautiful Rheeta, who has a special ability of her own - she can turn into a huge panther!

    Mandrake's powers are amazing - he can manipulate reality, levitate, cause destruction and create illusions. It would all eventually be explained as (mostly) a form of mass hypnotism, but in these early tales he's more of a miracle worker and always the master of any situation.

   The stories are by Mandrake creator Lee Falk (who also made his mark by creating the first costumed hero in comics, The Phantom), and he keeps things moving along at top speed, with lots of action, humor and a bit of sex thrown in for good measure.

   The art is by Phil Davis, and it's impressive work - imaginative and vibrant, creating strange worlds and armies of evildoers for Mandrake to face. And he's quite good at drawing beautiful women. And since the reprints cover a couple of years, you can see his improvement (and perhaps the influence of other artists) on his work.

   Loaded with imagination and energy (and a fair dollop of humor), this is a terrific series. A product of its time, certainly, but loaded with timeless entertainment.

Grade: A



Glen Davis said...

Is this pre-Narda?

Chuck said...

Yep! Each story features a different pretty girl, but no Narda and no love interest for Mandrake.