The Books of Magic
by Neil Gaiman,
John Bolton, Scott Hampton,
Charles Vess, Paul Johnson
(DC/Vertigo, 1990)

Long before Harry Potter went to Hogwarts, a young English lad in glasses learned of magic from the pen of Neil Gaiman.

Timothy Hunter, a fairly typical, aimless 12-year-old boy, meets a quartet of mysterious, powerful men who show him worlds beyond understanding. Possibly destined to be the greatest magician of his age, Tim is exposed to wonders and possibilities, alternate realities and the end of all existence.

His guides on the journey are the so-called "trenchcoat brigade" -- the Phantom Stranger, Dr. Occult, John "Hellblazer" Constantine and the sightless Mister E -- although other magical luminaries, from Dr. Fate to Zatanna, will chime in from time to time. His adventures take him from Faerie to Hell and many dimensions in between, from the start of time to the final curtain. He'll see the beauty and ugliness of magic, discover the power of names and the consequences of gifts. He'll meet Death before his time, and he'll learn a little bit more about trust and betrayal.

First published as a miniseries in 1990 and collected in 1993, The Books of Magic is still a delightful, eye-opening story about magical potential. Gaiman, who was already deep into his Sandman mythos by this time, unleashed a new force on the world of comics with this book, which quickly became a successful, ongoing Vertigo series.

- Rambles
written by Tom Knapp
published 6 September 2003

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