Monday, August 29, 2005

Spellbinders


Spellbinders is a Marvel mini-series that just concluded this past week. It's written by Mike Carey of Lucifer fame, and drawn by Mike Perkins. This six-issue story, which is titled "Signs and Wonders" introduces us to the true witches that reside in Salem, Massachusettes. The story opens in a library where a pair of teenagers are working a spell, using ancient looking books and talking as if it were the most natural thing to do in the world. And for them, it is. It's part of the life of witches in this ancient town, where there are true-blood witches, wanna-bes and blanks, or non-witches. The cliques of the town are well-established, as can easily be seen by the rivalry and indeed, hostility between the groups at the local high school. But I'm getting ahead of myself, back to the library: one of the boys recites from a book of spells, mockingly, then cries out in terror that something is there. Suddenly, the boy's clothes are on the floor, thousands of lizards spilling out where flesh once resided. Great opening scene, right? Well, the story just takes off from there. It's full of wonderful scenes like the one I just described, as we follow a new girl to the area, Kate, who learns the ways of the town right along with us. There's something off about Kate, we soon understand, as one of the witch boys claims that she is a special witch, unbeknownst to her. The other witches of the school find it ridiculous that this awkward girl could harbor any power, but we are soon witness to events unfold that prove his claims true, the first of which is an actual attack on Kate on her first day of classes. An elemental being does its best to suffocate Kate, and witches from the immediate area are forced to help this girl who seems unable to help herself. It soon becomes apparent that something is instigating attacks against her, as these things just keep occurring. As the story unfolds, the story keeps getting grander and grander, as if spiraling toward something huge, which inevitably occurs in the concluding chapter. Each issue ends on a great note, holding fast the readers' interest, should they need more convincing to read further. Mike Carey really did some great work with this series, throwing in some really fun, inventive elements. I'm really sorry that it's not getting the attention that it deserves. Mike Perkins delivers some stellar scenes with his pencils. There were several pages where I just stopped to admire the art, particularly at the beginning of issue five, where some of the witches find themselves in a real pickle. One of my gripes with the series is that a few secondary characters aren't flushed out much, but the main characters have enough of a presence to atone for this flaw. Spellbinders is going to, thankfully, be collected in digest format in October, in time for Halloween. I admit I'm a fan of this weird girl witch genre and have clung desperately to titles like Marvel's trainwreck, Witches and Vertigo's The Witching, hoping to find the type of story I've been waiting for. This is one series that actually came through and surpassed my expectations after a string of disappointments. I hope the digest sells well enough to warrant more Spellbinders adventures in the furure, but for now, I'll have to be content with the knowledge that there's one really great story out there.

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