Justin du Coeur (jducoeur) wrote,
Justin du Coeur
jducoeur

TRoOB

And it's time for another issue of TRoOB, the review column that dares to say, "I don't know what it means, but I like it!"

The first issue of Quicken Forbidden came out something like seven years ago. I didn't pay it much mind at the time -- it looked interesting, but I was already overloaded with too many comics. The reviews were intriguing, but I never picked up an issue until the first collected volume came out a couple of months ago. Now I'm kicking myself for wasted time.

The new collection is Jax Epoch and the Quicken Forbidden, volume 1: Borrowed Magic, and it is really very, very good. Jax, our heroine, is 16, very bookish, and just a little bit of a kleptomaniac. She's always wished to find some real magic in the world. She follows a literal rabbit down a figurative rabbit hole, finds some of that magic and brings it home. And then things start to go very wrong.

The story is exceptionally complex for a nominal fantasy. Jax briefly explores several alternate dimensions, each stranger than the one before. She winds up the pawn of some fairly nasty scientists, a trial defendant for "Eternal Crimes", and gets to ride a dragon for good measure. It takes most of the first volume before you even begin to understand what's going on here. But the writing is sharp, capturing a smart and resourceful girl in a very surreal situation. And the clean, simple art shows the story to best effect.

The foreward is written by Mark Crilley, author/artist of Akiko on the Planet Smoo, which is singularly appropriate -- Quicken Forbidden reminds me a lot of Akiko, but with a darker undertone. Actually, it reminds me even more of Sleaze Castle, the only book I loved enough to decipher a language in order to read the background dialogue. It's very select company.

Verdict: I give Borrowed Magic a B+ on its own. The story is excellent, if painfully unresolved. I honestly have no idea how long the book ran, or if it came to any kind of conclusion. If this story managed any kind of satisfying wrapup, I could see raising that grade overall. Good stuff...
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