Mysterius the Unfathomable #1


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Mysterius the Unfathomable #1


  • Words: Jeff Parker
  • Art: Tom Fowler
  • Inks: Tom Fowler
  • Colors: Dave McCaig
  • Story Title: Mysterius the Magnificent
  • Publisher: WildStorm/DC Comics
  • Price: $2.99
  • Release Date: Jan 21, 2009

The man known as Mysterius may be a skirt chase and a fraud… but then again, maybe not…

WildStorm is a bit of an odd duck among the DC publishing family. While DC handles the more mainstream (usually superhero) work and Vertigo handles the edgier, more mature (and usually non-superhero) stories, WildStorm sits somewhere in the middle, handling some edgier and mature material, some superhero work, and superheroes with an edge. Oddly enough, this makes WildStorm the perfect place then for Jeff Parker’s new mini-series – a story that is not at all what a reader might expect.

Ella was a reporter covering the latest self-indulgent celebrity escapade – in this case a séance featuring the famous mystic Mysterius. It’s all harmless fun until something goes wrong and Ella discovers that there is a mystical side to the world and Mysterius is tapped into it.

Parker is probably best known for his sleeper hit Agents of Atlas for Marvel Comics. With Mysterius the Unfathomable, however, he chooses a different tack – throwing the characters into outrageous situations and impossible happenings and yet maintaining an undercurrent of blasé attitude about it – particularly on the part of Mysterius. The magic in Parker’s world is not the world threatening or the world saving kind nor is it dark, tainted stuff. There are no superheroic mages like Doctor Fate or Doctor Strange but neither are there anti-heroes like John Constantine. Mysterius’s world is a bit petty – it is scam artist magic, the stuff of scathing practical jokes, of cruel satire, and even work-a-day, hum-drum magic. Yet despite this it is still funny. The comic rings with a kind of humbug charm.

While artist Tom Fowler is probably most recognizable for his work on Mad magazine my first exposure to him was with a run he did for Green Arrow. There his rubbery figures were a poor fit and he had to rein in his style somewhat for such a traditional, superhero character. With Mysterius the Unfathomable, however, Fowler couples with Parker’s script to unleash a slightly over-the-top caricature style to his designs. The look does take some getting used to as the people tend to extremes – large, prominent noses, thin wrists, arms, and ankles, large feet, pot bellies and busts and hips that put Dolly Parton to shame. Once your eye adjusts, however, you can clearly see how cleverly Fowler has used the designs to help define the characters. He also has a knack of making the most outré magic look mundane at the same time. There are few grand flourishes, no sparks or sparkles or double page spreads of special effects and this also grounds Mysterius’s world as a place where magic can happen subtly and without warning.

With Jeff Parker and Tom Fowler working together Mysterius the Unfathomable comes across as a bit like a comic that P.T. Barnum would have approved of. A story that will scam you in some way but do it with such flair, panache and charm that you can’t help but be impressed and entertained – and in the end, isn’t that all that matters? This way to the Great Egress!

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