The World-Mage is back.  But Kevin’s family is still in great danger…  Your Major Spoilers review of Mage Book Three: The Hero Denied #14 awaits!


Writer: Matt Wagner
Artist: Matt Wagner
Colorist: Brennan Wagner
Letterer: Dave Lanphear
Editor: Diana Schutz
Publisher: Image Comics
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: December 12, 2018

Previously in Mage Book Three: The Hero Denied:  Reunited at last with the Mage, Kevin soon learns that Mirth’s powers are depleted but he can still act as a mentor and guide.  Meanwhile, Magda and Hugo come face to face with Olga Grackleflint, who Magda manages to subdue with her magic arsenal.  As they attempt to avoid capture, mother and son stumble into a darker section of their enemies’ lair.  Driving all night, Kevin, Miranda and Mirth arrive at the Umbra Sprite’s citadel.  After Kevin defeats a guardian dragon, Mirth warns him that they must hurry — his wife and son are in danger.  At the Rescue Mission, Karol receives an unexpected visitor.


As Kevin continues to smash his way through the Umbra Sprite’s defenses, the Sprite’s Gracklethorn daughters triumph to have finally captured the Fisher King.  There are some ominous moments, though, as Mirth points out that Kevin’s powers are straining him more and more, and warns that his remaining mystical energies won’t be enough if The Pendragon fails.  Kevin, however, has brought an entire BAG of baseball bats, each of which he’s willing to wedge into the heads, orifices and organs of whatever monster stands in his way.  At the same time, Magda and Hugo continue their perilous journey, distracted by the fact that they’ve ventured into a maze where, distracted controlling her familiar and trying to find the exit, Magda misses a mystical monster.  Hugo saves his mom, while Kevin is impressed by daughter Miranda using her cloak of illusion to hide among the monsters…


As you’d expect, this issue has not one, not two, but THREE killer cliffhangers, with the fate of everyone left up in the air before next issue’s big finale, thirty-odd years in the making.  This issue continues the Mage trademark of using actual mythological creatures in terrible ways, and the creativity in the various magic attacks to be overcome is joyful to behold, even as you worry for Kevin and his family’s life.  The final page cliffhanger moment, which I can’t bring myself to spoil, is a stomach-churning bit of terror that I’ve been dreading but that I knew was coming.  (If you’re a fan of Wagner, if you’re at all familiar with Arthurian iconography or if you looked at ‘The Hero Denied’ on the cover, you’re probably also unsurprised.)  The art in this issue is both wonderful and subtle, especially in the clear fatigue on Kevin’s face as he fights.  The return of Mirth, rather than the comforting presence that I hoped for, ends up being a harbinger that something terrible is about to happen.

And it does.


I’ve been saying since the very beginning of this series that the title makes me nervous, and the build-up to this issue’s events has been expertly constructed and inexorable.  Mage Book Three: The Hero Denied #14 is the point where my multiple worries finally coalesced into something tangible and even more terrible than the waiting, with excellent, expressive art and some really great use of shadows and black ink to make things even more ominous, earning 4.5 out of 5 stars overall.  One the one hand, I don’t want Mage to end, but on the other, issue #15 can’t come soon enough for me.

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The penultimate chapter of Kevin's story ends with some very ominous moments, and it's SO GOOD, you guys!

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Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture! And a nice red uniform.

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