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Magic: The Gathering “Classics”

I’m honestly fairly surprised in a way that IDW has not published (that I am aware of) any Magic: The Gathering Classics volumes. They’ve got a Classics line for several other licensed properties, so why not MTG? Granted, the property doesn’t have quite the same quantity of “classic” material as the others, but surely they could get at least a few good volumes out of what’s there.

Given I’ve seen nothing whatsoever regarding any actual volumes, here are the six volumes I’d propose for a series of MTG Classics volumes.

Vol. 1 – The Shadow Mage
Collecting The Shadow Mage 1-4 and Wayfarer 1-5.

This would make for a nice-size 9-issue volume…a bit thicker than your average 6-issue book but not so hefty as a 12-issue collection. This would be–I believe–the complete run of issues featuring Jared Carthalion, and be all the issues that did not focus on a pre-existing MTG card or story.

I put these in the first volume as The Shadow Mage was the first series from Armada, and I’ve just always associated it as starting everything off. I believe Wayfarer picked up the month after, so this is essentially a 9-issue story anyway, which would make for a solid single-volume I think.

Vol. 2 – Ice Age
Collecting Fallen Empires 1-2, Ice Age 1-4, and Nightmare 1.

I’d put Ice Age and Fallen Empires together as they tied together a bit. To go chronologically I’d probably put the FE issues first in the volume–with the origin of a major character that appeared in IA.

I place these here as they were the next series to come out from Armada

I’ve got the Nightmare one-shot here mostly for lack of good placement elsewhere. This issue was a bit on the early side of the Armada run, and would seem to me out of place to be grouped with the various Legends issues.

Additionally, it being extra-sized helps fill out the pagecount for the volume as it’s otherwise almost two issues smaller than the first.

Vol. 3 – The Brothers’ War
Collecting Antiquities War 1-4 and Urza/Mishra War 1-2.

While it would have been great to have the full intended “trilogy” of series that would have been the “entirety” of the story of the Brothers’ War, it just makes sense to me to put these two minis together. While technically only six issues, the Urza-Mishra War issues were extra-sized, filling this out to approximately an 8-issue size.

Even if this wouldn’t quite reach 8 issues, it’d be very similar in size to the previous volume, and could always be filled out a bit with a selection from the The Brothers’ War prose novel.

There’s also (as with previous volumes) the Seer Analysis and such “backmatter” that would fill things out a bit.

Vol. 4 – Legends I
Collecting Arabian Nights 1-2, Shandalar 1-2, Homelands, and Fallen Angel plus material from Convocations.

This volume and the next are sort of catch-alls for the rest of the Armada stuff.

Arabian Nights and Homelands fit together as they’re short stories based at least in part on actual MTG expansion sets. Though Shandalar was based on a story from a computer game, in its own way that could be seen as another expansion.

Since that would still leave the volume a bit short, I’d go ahead and put Fallen Angel here, to begin the series of Legends-focused issues. The volume could be rounded out with a few pages from the Convocations “gallery” issue.

Vol. 5 – Legends II
Collecting Elder Dragons 1-2, Dakkon Blackblade, Jedit Ojanen 1-2, and Serra Angel plus material from Convocations.

This volume would finish out the run of Armada MTG issues with the rest of the Legends-based specials. Considering the prestige-format issues to be roughly double-sized, this would be about 8 issues, and the Convocations pages not included in vol. 4 would up the pagecount a bit for the volume.

Just as I associate Shadow Mage as kicking off the Armada line, I associate these with the end of the line–as of this typing I actually don’t even yet own the Jedit Ojanen issues, just acquired Serra Angel and only found the Elder Dragons issues a couple years ago–at least a decade after the issues first saw print.

Vol. 6 – Gerrard’s Quest
Collecting the Dark Horse mini-series 1-4.

This would obviously be the smallest of the volumes with only 4 issues–moving from the Armada comics to the 4-issue mini produced by Dark Horse Comics. This would basically be a reprint of the Gerrard’s Quest TPB with a new cover.

I know Wizards of the Coast has produced plenty of their own MTG material, and there are at least a couple graphic novels out from them. I don’t know that any of that would fit well here, and as those are relatively recent, they wouldn’t really fall into the realm of “classics” the way all these others do.

I’d expect these volumes to be at least $19.99 cover price…though that could feel a bit rough as Shadow Mage and Ice Age in particular seem to be pretty common bargain-bin issues. It’s the later issues that had smaller print runs and grew quite rare. As such, it would seem a bit on the expensive side for the content; but then in turn, the prestige-format issues were $6 or so apiece, and I don’t think I’ve seen any of those in bargain bins, so it would all balance out.

The sixth volume would seem to me ripe to be priced at $14.99 or so if not bargain-price it to $9.99, as with only four issues it’d be about half the size of the previous volumes.

So there you have it–the contents and collections I’d imagine as ideal for production by IDW, assuming they thought the sales warranted (of course, they probably don’t). Heck, these could even be shrink-wrapped with reprints of key cards from the time of the comics, with the old art. Whether playable or not, I don’t know.

Ice Age on the World of Magic: The Gathering Revisited

Full post at FantasyRantz.wordpress.com

A 2012 look at Acclaim/Armada‘s 4-issue mini-series from 1995 that detailed the world and history of the Ice Age setting of Magic: The Gathering.

Magic: The Gathering – The Spell Thief #1 [Review]

The Spell Thief, part 1

Written by: Matt Forbeck
Art by: Martin Coccolo
Art Assists by: Christian Duce
Colors by: J. Edwin Stevens
Color Assists by: Baileigh Bolten
Letters by: Shawn Lee
Edited by: Carlos Guzman
Cover: Christopher Moeller
Published by: IDW Publishing

Picking up right from where the previous mini left off (though with a different word from our hero), this issue opens with Dack standing before some castle. Triggering its magical defenses and eventually making his way inside, the Planeswalker/thief encounters some fantastical creatures and a Titan, all of whom continue to slow him down from catching Sifa, the planeswalker that apparently destroyed his hometown. But in order to escape the titan and becoming a permanent part of the titan’s collection, Dack may find himself facing the one thing he doesn’t want to face.

Art-wise, I’m not entirely impressed with this issue. It occurs to me that I am most entrenched in quasi-traditional superhero comics, or darker gritty stuff (such as Hellblazer) and this certainly isn’t either of those. The art is by no means bad–it’s distinctive, and this has a LOOK that screams “fantasy” which makes it fit into general Magic: The Gathering/fantasy for me. But I’m also so far removed from the game that this just reeks of generic fantasy to me.

Which brings me to the story itself. For one thing, despite a recap on the inside cover, this feels like it should at best be a #5, not a new #1. It could be a new arc, allowing for 4-issue collected volumes, but as a #1 I find nothing to like about the main character, no real reason to care one way or the other about his “quest,” and all that. I read the first issue of the first mini, bought the subsequent issues but haven’t yet read ’em with other reading I’ve been doing (except to get the plastic off #4 to verify just how closely these two series are).

I’m sure there’s a LOT of stuff that’s going right over my head that would jump out at long-time MTG fans/players. Probably folks familiar with current/recent stuff with the game would recognize spells and such used in this issue. But being “out” for so long, nothing’s obvious to me.

Then there’s the most glaring, heinous problem with this issue that soured me right from the start: this thing’s a whopping $4.99! Bad enough the derth of $3.99 comics…for that extra $1 I foolishly “expected” this to be extra-sized, maybe a bimonthly series with extra pages and thus the extra-sized price. But everything about this seems to match the previous issue: 22-page story, cardboard center to try to keep the book’s shape in shrink-wrapping; included genuine/playable game card…

But the card is not at all worth an extra $1 to me, and if that’s what drove the cost up, shame on everyone involved!

If you’re a big fan of MTG and enjoy fantasy comics…you’ll probably have a lot more appreciation for this than I did. As it stands, I’d be inclined to continue with the series for an ongoing overall story working off the concept of planeswalkers and such–the “core” of Magic: The Gathering–but I am so absolutely put off by the $4.99 price for 22 pages of story that I have every intention now of avoiding subsequent issues.

Story: 4/10
Art: 6/10
Overall: 5/10

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