Newt is an apprentice wizard whose imagination seems to be far greater than his capacity for spell casting. He would much rather pretend to be a dragon or imagine what it would be like to fly like an eagle than contemplate the High Art. Nevertheless, Newt’s master is determined to see him excel at his upcoming trial… or die trying.
The early press for Eye Of Newt likened it to The Hobbit and A Game of Thrones. This comparison does this book a great disservice, for it is nothing like those works save that they are all a part of the broad genre of fantasy. If a comparison to a classic must be made, Eye of Newt is far closer in spirit and tone to Lloyd Alexander’s Chronicles of Prydain or Susan Cooper’s The Dark Is Rising – both tales of an unlikely young man coming to possess great magical power.
Eye of Newt reads less like a graphic novel and more like a storybook. This story is not high fantasy. Nor is it a grand epic with a cast of dozens and multiple dramatic subplots. The characters are strictly shallow and the plot is born of the most basic of fairy tale cliches. And yet, taken on those terms, it is a most amusing story!
The artwork is similarly perplexing. In most respects, Michael Hague is a great artist and his work here is reminiscent of Michael Zulli’s work on The Sandman. He shows an amazing skill for drawing animals and his dragons look like truly living creatures. Hague also puts an amazing and intricate level of detail into his backgrounds.
It is when he must draw humans that Hague falters, for most of his human characters resemble an art student’s first crude attempts at realistic portraits. Were Hague to attempt a more stylized rendition – as he seems to when depicting the visiting wizards Hornswallow and Liversmoott in the second half of the issue – the artwork would be far more effective.
Despite this unevenness, Eye of Newt #1 is still a promising start to what should be an excellent series. Whatever flaws exist in the artwork are more than made up for by the moments where the visuals work perfectly. And the story – while satisfying all the tropes of a typical boy’s story – has enough new spins and interesting ideas to make it seem like an original tale.