[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Writer: Kat Howard
Artist: Tom Fowler
Colors: Jordan Boyd
Letters: Todd Klein
In issue two of Books of Magic, Dr. Rose does some serious damage and Tim stays up late. Also, Tim figures out how to turn a screwdriver into a divining rod and he has an awkward conversation with his dad about replacing his missing arm. Later, after once again staying up too late, Tim goes on a quest. It doesn’t end well as teenage boys and quests rarely do.
Tom Fowler has his game on lock. This book could, as you could see by the summary, seem kind of boring, but due to his excellent pencil work and the stunning ink work by Jordan Boyd, the reader is never bored. In the first two issues, there have been pages and pages with little to no words. Sometimes, when this happens in books, the readers flip through the pages to just get back to the dialogue, but in this book, readers will slow down to take in the view. If they don’t they are missing out. Check out the panel below. There are only a few words uttered, but the reader feels the rain. The way that Fowlser has a rain drop hit the edge of a knife blade pulls us in. That small detail makes this scene all the more real and terrifying.
This lack of dialogue does not mean that Kat Howard is sitting around doing nothing. She is filling in the story with pauses and intentions. We see, in the sparse, awkward conversation Tim has with his dad, that there is a lot going on and we get some foreshadowing as well. We learn a lot about Tim in this small exchange. His heart is in the right place and that makes us care about him in a real way. Later, in school, we see him frazzled. There is a panel that starts with the question we all wonder, is Tim OK? Howard is creating a world where we want him to be OK. We are all rooting for him.
As is the case with any new series, there is too little happening on too few pages. This will annoy some readers who might be inclined to wait for the first six to be collected.
This is delightful. The focus on one story is the key. The Sandman Universe has been a bit uneven out of the gate and there are clearly a lot of stories to tell. The fact that this book has a singular focus helps. Dr. Rose, who has a lot of story to tell herself, is only here for Tim. Everything is about Tim or is Tim adjacent. That singular focus will keep the readers coming back.