I love Christopher Nolan’s The Prestige, it’s my favourite movie. In fact, I even wrote an entire postgraduate essay on it where I analysed the crap out of it. I could sit and recite the whole thing for you right now, but I won’t because that’d probably be rather awkward and weird. Anyway, this is all my roundabout way of saying: I like stories about magicians. That is to say illusionists. More “let’s saw a lady in half” than “pass me my magical staff.” So why the hell am I talking about this? Well, BOOM! Studios have a brand new comic book out today called Cloaks, which is all about a young illusionist. Written by Caleb Monroe and drawn by Mariano Navarro, I was quite curious to see how this first issue would shape up.
We begin, rather grimly, with a funeral. Blackstone the magician has died, leaving behind his adopted son Adam. Quickly we jump ahead to modern day and find that his kid has grown into a talented performer himself. For the rest of the issue we follow Adam as we get to see what he’s made of his life. Spoilers: the kid still totally likes magic.
The artwork is mostly pretty strong. It’s got a really nice style to it that flows really well, it’s not too far removed from reality but there’s a cartoonish charm to it. Navarro has managed to draw some really fun looking diverse characters but unfortunately the detail suffers somewhat in a few panels. Anything not in focus is depicted in a much more abstract manner, even people. However, because of the lighthearted style and the awesome colours, by Gabriel Cassata, it’s honestly doesn’t detract majorly from the issue. Those things that are in focus look great, the only downside is it perhaps makes for faster reading as each panel looks a little empty once you move beyond the foreground.
The problem with Cloaks is that it feels quite familiar. Not the precise story per se, but the characters and situations just feel a little too safe. Adam is a goodhearted but roguish youth who defies authority to help out those in need. Think Robin Hood with street magic. He’s likeable enough in theory but I don’t feel much of a connection for him yet. Not that making one in a single issue is easy, but I’m noticeably neutral to him right now. He just doesn’t seem to strike me as particularly unique. However it has to be said that I did get the vibe that this whole issue may be planned to read better once collected. Especially as it ends in a place that implies everything here is an introduction to the real story. When packaged with the later issues I could see this introduction working quite well. But I’ve got to review what the issue is and not what it might be later. As such it’s a good issue but not quite a great issue.
Cloaks is off to a perfectly okay start. It’s not bad by any means, but it’s not quite the captivating opening that I wanted. It’s a standard good comic book. There’s nothing super flashy here in issue #1 but there are no major problems either. If the premise does interest you then do give it a go, this could still evolve into a strong series once things get rolling next issue.