Mage and the Endless Unknown

Iron Circus Comics. Jun. 2023. 152p. Tr $15.00. ISBN 9781638991199.
Gr 9 Up–A young mage ventures forth from their pleasant, sunflower-filled homeland. Soon their surroundings grow dark and frightening and reveal the presence of hideous beasts. Mage’s magic is of limited help against these creatures’ saw-toothed gullets, slimy tentacles, sharp beaks, and too many eyes. Mage is harmed at each encounter, and escape exacts a horrible price. Over the five chapters encompassing Mage’s travels, despite meeting other beings who become allies, the threats and danger don’t end. Each chapter of this nearly wordless graphic novel has Mage starting their journeys with optimism but repeatedly having to fight fearsome, destructive creatures. Mage reaches home again and learns that what felt like solitary fights throughout their travels are part of a battle much larger than they could have imagined. The black-and-white art serves the story well. Despite a deceptively childlike look, it depicts the frightening lands Mage visits, as well as the horrifying monsters and their casual mutilation of bodies in scary detail. With panels often filling almost the whole page, readers will share Mage’s terror.
VERDICT Hand this one to horror fans who enjoy dark stories and have big imaginations; few words and evocative art will tell a different frightful story to each reader.

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