OFFICIAL HANDBOOK OF THE MARVEL UNIVERSE - MYSTIC ARCANA 1
By lots of people
Published by Marvel Comics, $3.99
Okay, nerds -- I love this kind of stuff. It’s a whole lot of pages of obscure magic-related minutiae, featuring profiles of characters you might know, like Alpha Flight’s Talisman or the Fantastic Four’s resident witchy babysitter Agatha Harkness, but mostly it’s page after page of folks I defy you to have ever heard of, like Bible John, who looks like a serious Lynyrd Skynyrd fan and apparently hangs out a lot with Blade, and Papa Shorty, who is from New Orleans, has no legs, and seems to levitate.
I wasn’t going to actually this review this masterpiece -- and in fact hadn’t done more than flipped through it -- but then I happened on this excellent capsule review from Hannibal Tabu and the Buy Pile. Mr. Tabu pointed out the supertrash magnificence of MYSTIC ARCANA, which spends a lot of its time summarizing various magic-related storylines from Marvel’s storied history.
My hands-down favorite, from the entry on Black Talon, who is a voodoo master dressed up like a rooster, reveals that “Having grown tired and angry at Eric’s (the Grim Reaper -ed.) constant racism, (Black Talon) and another ally, Man-Ape, abandoned Eric during the battle.”
Man-Ape, in case you’re not a Marvel Comics nerd, is this guy:
I mean, how much of a racist do you have to be to piss off a black guy who calls himself Man-Ape? I’m not saying that Black Talon and Man-Ape, as fictional characters, shouldn’t be outraged at racism. I’m just saying that, as fictional characters, a black houngan who dresses up like a rooster, and a black African who dresses up like a giant monkey, aren’t inherently sensitive depictions of African or African-American culture. And that it’s pretty funny for one of them to stand up and say, “Enough with the racism, The Grim Reaper.”
What this teaches me is that magic-based Marvel comics should stop trying to be so serious, and should revel in their ridiculousness.
There’s also a guy named Cadaver who is, naturally, a reanimated corpse, and whose magic sword was created when he pulled out one of his own ribs. And let’s not forget the previously mentioned Talisman, daughter of the super-heroic Shaman, and whose last name is “Twoyoungmen.” Ahh, classic John Byrne!
Seriously, dudes -- buy this book as soon as you can. It’s got to be the funniest Marvel comic in years.
Tell me more: Mystic Arcana.