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Review: Mystic: The Tenth Apprentice

Giselle and Genevieve have survived life in The Limpet Hall Orphanage for Girls by dreaming of something better than toiling in a laundry and by sneaking into their Mistress’ library to teach themselves the Noble Arts of magic, something most only believe can be learned by the aristocracy. When an ill-timed study session results in chaos, the girls must flee the orphanage. Their flight path lands them in the middle of the palace’s next selection of magical apprentices. Suddenly the two friends find themselves on opposite sides of a brewing civil war, one that will challenge them to finally stand up for themselves and those around them.

Mystic: The Tenth Apprentice
Written by G. Willow Wilson; Illustrated by Daniel Lopez
Age Rating: T+
Marvel Comics, January 2012, ISBN 978-0-7851-5608-6
96 pages, $14.99

Mystic is the revival of an older series by the same name. That title was written by Ron Marz and illustrated by Brandon Peterson and John Dell and was published by CrossGen in the early 2000s. All of the CrossGen titles were designed to interconnect, but with this reboot, Marvel has done away with that, making all of the series (so far Marvel has also re-worked and re-released Sigil and Ruse) easier for readers to follow without feeling like they needed to read all of the books in all of the series in order to understand the overarching plot.

Overall, Wilson and Lopez’s story has good bones. Giselle and Genevieve are realistically frustrated young women. Readers will ache along with them as they suffer injustice after injustice. The glaring gap between rich and poor in the land of Hyperion is just the sort of situation designed to foster trouble and to inspire readers to root for the underdog heroes. The magical elements have the right amount of mystical strangeness to be appealing to fantasy readers. Lopez does an excellent job of adding fantastical and steampunk elements to the art, from larger details to small touches in the background. His characters are old enough to attract even older teen readers, but while the tale has violence, nothing is outside of the level appropriate for a middle school crowd. Nathan Fairbairn’s colors are a particularly nice touch. He uses a number of shimmering greens and purples that play up the magical aether used by Hyperion’s residents for all manner of purposes. The colors feel like a Disney animation all grown-up, which should make the book appeal to budding animators as well as graphic novel readers.

Unfortunately, though, Mystic: The Tenth Apprentice suffers from an unrealistic page count and a seeming rush to tell a “complete” story in only four issues, resulting in a graphic novel that is too thin to be truly enjoyable. Readers are never given a chance to get to know the characters or even time to catch their breath between dramatic scenes. In many respects it feels as if this graphic novel was cut and pasted together from a longer, more well-rounded work. I found myself wishing that Wilson and Lopez had been given more time, more pages, more issues to tell their tale, so that I would have time to immerse myself in their world. I have a feeling they would be able to do amazing things if they’d only been allowed. So, despite the strong attempt by the creators, the result is only so-so and recommended only for collections desperate for more fantasy graphic novels.

This review is based on a complimentary copy supplied by the publisher. All images copyright © Marvel Comics.

Snow Wildsmith About Snow Wildsmith

Snow Wildsmith is a writer and former teen librarian. She has served on several committees for the American Library Association/Young Adult Library Services Association, including the 2010 Michael L. Printz Award Committee. She reviews graphic novels for Booklist, ICv2's Guide, No Flying No Tights, and Good Comics for Kids and also writes booktalks and creates recommended reading lists for Ebsco's NoveList database. Currently she is working on her first books, a nonfiction series for teens.

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