Finally, Gutter Magic indulges in grand spectacle. In my observation, genre fiction tends to rely on big ideas rather than strong characterization. As a result, genre fiction like sc-fi, fantasy, and science fantasy have to dazzle audiences with amazing sights and events to cover for deficient character development. Gutter Magic has lacked the spectacle necessary to make me ignore how thin its characters' personalities really are. And, outside of the spectacle, issue three is feeling a little weak.
Everything seems to come too easily for our protagonists. Typically, the writing doesn't quite support its own insistence that dramatically compelling events are happening to Cinder or his companion Blacktooth. The two of them are trying a little too hard to be nonchalant about the wonders they encounter. And they walk away from danger with too few scars. Blacktooth is a thieving underworld wheeler-dealer. Cinder is a capable, callow, and ambitious thrill seeker. These aren‘t new character types, nor are they terribly interesting twists on old tricks. So, the book has to impress with its depictions of magic.
The artist, Brett Barkley, gets to have fun illustrating an aerial dragon fight that serves as the fulcrum of issue three. We get some kind of closure on one of the book's relationships in the form of a semi-sacrifice. Cinder gets taken to task for his selfish ways. Things are happening, but I can’t muster a lot of adrenaline for the proceedings. Writer Rich Douek crams a lot into what amounts to a large action beat spread across an entire issue. And it works reasonably well as action, carrying our leads to their climactic encounter while still maintaining a lot of energy.
Issue three of Gutter Magic isn't filled with exposition, nor is there a ton of development. If, however, an issue needs to serve as an excuse to get the reader to the series' final destination, you could find worse vehicles.
Gutter Magic #3 Writer: Rich Douek Artist: Brett Barkley Colorist: Jules Rivera Publisher: IDW/Comics Experience Price: $3.99 Release Date: 3/9/16 Format: Mini-Series; Print/Digital