Written by Michael Hague
Art by Michael Hague
Published by Dark Horse
Eye of Newt feels nostalgic without pandering. Released alongside the Fantasy genre’s current proclivity towards dismemberment and sexploitation, the comic’s relative innocence is charming. Newt is a young apprentice on a quest led by his master, an unnamed and rather characterless wizard. This first issue explores the process of gathering items of power pertinent to Newt’s coming rite of passage, while also introducing the land and its many fantastical creatures.
The story has been done in innumerable iterations yet there is a sense of comfort found in the familiarity. Despite the rather rote trappings of Newt’s journey, there is a pervading sense of dread throughout. A lurking adversary permeates through the panels and childhood notions of trust are inverted in a scene where Newt delights in the company of two adult wizards only to be betrayed by these mentors two pages later.
The art is beautiful. Hague employs an earthy, watercolor aesthetic in a way that feels pure and meticulous. Every page is a full page illustration with panels layered on top and while this method sometimes lacks grace it is most successful when he integrates the panels into the architecture of the land. These visual motifs are incredibly effective and inventive, particularly a vast sea breaking into the panel of Newt sleeping and acting as his sheets or the tentacles of the Wizard’s robe slither into adjacent panels through the forms of tree branches. Hague has a prolific career in illustrating for fantasy novels and this feels very clear in the presentation of the comic as Eye of Newt feels like a condensed version of a more epic story. The comic reads like the illustrations of a fantasy novel cut out and pasted together and one wonders how Hague could benefit from a co-writer.
If the quality of artwork continues through this four part story, Eye of Newt promises to be a visually deft series despite its underwhelming narrative.