‘SPELLCHECKED is a new series from writer QUINTON MILES (TEMPLATE, XENO TRIP, THE COLD WAVE) centered on themes of family, magic and legacy. As a carefree man goes about his business as one of the most powerful mages in the world, his two children try to find their own paths as protectors of their hometown city. Meet the Davenports in “Introspection”, our debut storyarc! This collection contains Issues #1 through #3 of the series.’
Written by: Quinton Miles
Art by: Mauricio Campetella, Paul John Little (colours)
Publisher: QAM Comics
Released: 1 November 2017
I should have mentioned puns. Whenever I say how much I like skull imagery when it comes to a cover attracting me ( and there was a cool one in stiff competition with this volume to be this week’s review), I should have mentioned puns as another instant interest-pricker. The title Spellchecked about magic users figuring themselves out made me smile, and sounded interesting to boot as long as it avoids soap opera territory (although I could make ‘dishpan eyes’ jokes if it did). I was glad to give it a look.
This a little short for a volume, the first three issues of the series, but it covers a good introductory arc for the main characters and setting. The characters are a bit basic but solid, with a lot of room for further layering and finessing; a young adult figuring out what they want to do with their life, an annoyingly perfect sibling, and a laid back single parent who may or may not realise how that slips into emotional neglect. Invasion from the S. S. Angsty is avoided by having this family basically support and love each other (not as saccharinely as I’ve made it sound, don’t worry), and I’m left interested in how these characters develop over the series. I don’t doubt there’re going to be secrets and shenanigans.
It is important how well the magic fits into this world. We’re so far introduced into that less common urban fantasy category, where magic is practised in a contemporary setting out in the open, not as some sort of under-society thing being hidden from the general public. I’m not talking mythological creatures everywhere though – apart from the main family, there’s not much to be seen, making them fit discretely into the world and setting up future plot lines to explore this world further to find out magic’s place in it. The plot of this volume focuses around Dawn, stuck between her freelancing dad and literal superhero brother, both using their powers in different ways, and Dawn trying to figure out what to do with her powers and life. Sounds pretty boring, so obviously there’s mystically mysterious amulets, possible possession, and Mephistian mind games (I don’t know if ‘Mephistian’ is a word, just roll with it). It nicely sets up the characters and their relationships, and the arc ends with a promising set up for the rest of the series.
The art is great, and I was surprised to see this coming from a smaller independent rather than IDW or something. QAM has some interesting titles and an international stable of creators to its name, so I shouldn’t have been too surprised – the glory of the internet for independents to get out there – though I can’t find much of Campetella’s previous work. The characters are all individual, and I love the expressions. But I know what you’re all asking – what about the magic? There’s a range of magic over the course of the story, ranging up to fancy occult circle casting, but for the most part it’s kept low-key; simple magics don’t have fancy effects, highlighting the casual nature of it for our protagonists, though missing the opportunity for a bit of flair from Little (the colourist). It’s definitely made up for in the boss fight of the arc though, with more powerful stuff involving some fancy set design pieces and a smoke-and-lights show. It’s a nice contrast to the very everyday settings of the story, which of themselves do a good job of selling us on how humdrum the protagonists lives are outside of (and around) their powers.
I like the slow burn world-building here, though it’s going to make it difficult for Spellchecked to stand out from titles that blast out of the gate. I think it’ll be one to definitely recommend once it’s been going a bit longer and has some more beef under its belt, assuming it lives up to the potential storylines it’s hinting at. If I had been reviewing just the first issue, I’d lament its slowness and be a lot more unsure of its future, so I’m glad I had a whole first volume to introduce me to this. It’s just waiting to be able to swing a weight of accumulated storylines and character development around. The characters are likeable, the setting subtle, and the end of the volume has me interested in what happens next and wanting to know more about this world. You can get in on the ground floor or wait and see if it becomes what I think it will, though it would mean having to get a bunch of back volumes.
Thanks to Comixology.com for providing this issue of ‘Spellchecked Vol. 1: Introspection’ for review.