Mage: The Hero Discovered
by Matt Wagner
(Image, 1998)

Kevin Matchstick thinks he's a normal joe when he uncharacteristically stops and bares his soul to a panhandler on the street. That seemingly random occurrence sets in motion events that will change Kevin's life forever.

He gains strength and confidence. He gathers allies, including a secretive sorcerer, a ghost and a street-wise, bat-toting brawler. He discovers the existence of faerie creatures with malicious intent for the world. And he learns that he is the reborn spirit of Arthur Pendragon and is destined to lead the forces of good against them.

I first met Kevin in The Hero Defined, the second series in his saga. Going back to find the roots of his story, I was impressed with Matt Wagner's rough, but solid construction of a modern legend.

Mirth is the inscrutable, occasionally legless mage who guides Kevin along his road to greatness. Edsel is the young girl who drives her namesake and wields a glowing green slugger in Kevin's service. And Sean is the deceased public defender who has lingered for several decades before realizing his condition.

Arrayed against them are the forces of evil -- some dire, others comical, some fierce and others inept. But it's clear that allowing them to succeed in their mission to find the lame Fisher King will mean a host of ills for everyone.

The pleasure here is in watching an everyman in a lightning-blazed t-shirt accept his newly elevated status in life and rise -- at times grudgingly -- to the many challenges before him. It's the sort of series that demands a sequel, and it was nice to read it knowing the sequel was already in hand.

Now, where's the next one?

by Tom Knapp
19 November 2005

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