Ann Nocenti brings Jack Kirby’s boy-wizard into his own series with Klarion #1. The series debut features some detailed world building that gives the series an edge. The Witch Boy was prominently seen as a recurring antagonist on Young Justice and the announcement of Ann Nocenti’s Klarion series was met with some hesitance from fans. Luckily, Klarion is an intriguing debut, even though it stumbles just a tad.
Klarion #1 starts off with the young wizard at a literal multiversal crossroads. Klarion is given a lift by a being calling himself Beelzebub. Beelzebub takes Klarion to the Moody Museum, a hideout of sorts for young sorcerers. Just outside, Klarion meets a young man named Rasp, who also resides there. Underneath the introduction of the characters, Nocenti weaves in a conflict with a rival group, the tech-based Necropolitan Club. Nocenti does a good job of differentiating these antagonists from other robotic/cyborg foes in comics. There’s still a very supernatural look to these foes, but their magic is focused around technology.
Ann Nocenti’s script does a great job building the world. She’s introducing a number of concepts on the pages, all while delivering depth for Klarion‘s titular character. There is a solid character moment with Klarion and a wayward crow that shows just how different a protagonist he is. Klarion performs some spells on the crow against the bird’s will, demonstrating that Klarion is willing to satiate his curiosity even if it means being cruel.
In addition to Nocenti’s character driven script, Trevor McCarthy’s artwork provides the spark this supernatural series needs. The page layouts are injected with imagination and are still easy to follow. McCarthy’s line work is supple, and he provides a lot of variety to Klarion’s devilish personality.
One of the main stumbling blocks of Klarion #1 stems from its greatest strength: world-building. Ann Nocenti does a great job weaving in the various aspects of the story she is preparing to tell, but the draw back is that Klarion comes across as a bit of a passive protagonist. Here he is following the whims of the characters around him, and while readers are offered a glimpse into his personality, Klarion #1 does little to push its titular character into driving the action. This may be due to Klarion’s character. Anti-heroes and villains, unhindered by the same morality that drives the heroes can be a bit more primal in their drives, doing what they like when they like. That sounds like freedom, but writers can fall into a trap of letting the book itself meander as the character follows their heart’s desire. Klarion #1 avoids the pitfall for the most part; it’s a small hiccup in an otherwise solid book.
Klarion #1 is a solid start to the new series. Nocenti’s character work is great, and McCarthy’s layouts add a flash of personality to the look of the book. If there is one flaw it is that the book’s plot seems a bit unfocused, though that can be easily fixed in future issues.