Mage and The Endless Unknown has a sweet cover with an old-school, Fantasia-esque appeal. However, it’s not all magic and light. In fact, some of the illustrations are chillingly on par with Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. You’ll coo in wonder one moment, then have your jaw drop the next. Even more impressive is there is little dialogue. Neither Mage nor the folks he encounters have conversations. Tapping into the silent era, Mage and The Endless Unknown explodes with emotions, frights, and beauty.
The initial start of Part One—five parts in total—in Mage and The Endless Unknown, by SJ Miller, is pleasant and sweet as the young Mage awakens in a field. Mage uses his trusty wand to help more flowers sprout in beautiful bouquets. But this is a magical journey. As such, there is danger and not the kind without stakes. He meets creatures and beings on his travails. The beings vary, but their grotesque images stick with you after you finish reading. Iron Circus Comics picked a wonderfully imaginative and horrifying story to publish.
Mage and the Endless Unknown Has Nightmare Imagery
Mage’s trek in Mage and The Endless Unknown reminds me of As Above, So Below. He explores the dark, interior places and winds up in dangerous situations. The first moment when Mage loses his arm after being devoured by a creature is shocking. There are even autopsy images and countless eyes; think Pride from Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood.
Plenty of the imagery with creatures hanging has that wispy yet chilling artwork style that makes Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark an amazingly haunting classic. Those frighten me, but other parts have body horror moments that challenge me to continue. I do not do well with body horror. So this is not necessarily a children’s for young kids. But teens and above can enjoy this, particularly if they love unique storytelling and nightmarish artistry.
A Journey to Come Home
Many tales encompass leaving home only to return. Here, the little dialogue included is not from Mage, Double, or Fortune, whom Mage meets on his trek. It’s from an unknown presence that tells Mage to take the quest to face those who destroyed the old worlds and then return. There’s a beautiful message yet a sadness as the Mage takes this journey repeatedly to heal the “cursed land.” Similar to anyone expecting a beautiful experience and finding terror instead. The black-and-white artwork and lack of dialogue allow you to focus on each image. The emotion in the panels even spills out the borders.
However, the frights and bloodshed don’t halt Mage’s determination. Mage and The Endless Unknown feels uplifting thanks to Mage’s grit yet tragic in his quest’s repetitive, endless quality. It’s like defeating a monster with no end. It’s a cycle of beauty, horror, love, and loss, much like life. Mage and The Endless Unknown is the most uniquely stylish, grotesque, and stunning comics I’ve seen. It’s an unforgettable story where the images do all the talking and has plenty to say.