‘Magekiller’ is the Dragon Age Comic I Never Knew I Wanted
(I received a free copy of “Dragon Age: Magekiller No. 1” from Dark Horse Comics in exchange for my honest review.)
It starts with blood.
If we believe what the templars say, it always will, at least when it comes to mages.
Throughout the many books and games that make up the lore of Thedas, one of the biggest sources of conflict seems to be magic and how to deal with those who wield it: locking them away, ostensibly for their own safety; sewing their mouths shut and taking away their personhood; forcing them to wander, constantly looking over their shoulders.
According to the Andrastian Chant of Light—the dominant religion in Thedas—“Magic exists to serve man, and never to rule over him.” Much of the world we’ve seen thus far follows that commandment.
But not everywhere.
Enter the Tevinter Imperium, a land that is, in fact, ruled by mages.
In “Dragon Age: Magekiller No. 1,” we get a glimpse of what that means.
We learn a little more about the fate of the bodyguard Marius, who first appeared in BioWare writer Joanna Berry’s story “Paying the Ferryman.” There, Marius is a slave, a dalliance, a stepping stone in Calpernia’s awakening as a mage and her eventual rise to power as the leader of the Venatori. But Calepernia notes in passing that a magekiller is “a source of prestige for any magister and a way to tip the political scale.”
It’s easy to see why.
In “Magekiller,” Marius is a brutally effective fighter—though the scars on his body tell the story of the practice and the battles and the failures that got him where he is today. The story is told by his companion, Tessa, who holds a bleak view of mages. For her, the only good mage is a dead one—or a Tranquil one.
But for Marius, it’s a job, albeit an odd and dangerous one. In writer Greg Rucka’s hands, Marius is, so far, something of an enigma; he says little, but his actions paint him as driven, merciful, and effective. Tessa, by contrast, is snarky and compassionate (and has excellent taste in literature; fans of “Dragon Age: Inquisition” will recognize the book she buys Marius as written by everyone’s favorite smartass dwarf, Varric Tethras). The banter—both sides done by Tessa—and the way they work together speaks of their experience as a team. They rely on each other. Each of them brings something to the partnership.
In addition to a great story, “Magekiller” has stunning visuals. In a word, the art is gorgeous. The way Michael Atiyeh uses color helps guide the reader through the story; in each scene, a different color is dominant, making it easy to grasp quick changes in setting.
“Magekiller No. 1” sets up the story and starts readers on what will likely be a wild ride. Fans of Thedas absolutely should not miss this one.
“Magekiller No. 1” is published by Dark Horse Comics. It will be released Dec. 16. You can find a preview here. Written by Greg Rucka. Pencils by Carmen Carnero. Inks by Terry Pallot. Colors by Michael Atiyeh. Lettering by Michael Heisler. Cover art by Sachin Teng.
Correction: This post was updated Dec. 8, 2015, at 12:19 p.m. to reflect the following correction: Michael Atiyeh is responsible for the coloring.