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...