Hey Comic-book fans, memba Mage? The series by Matt Wagner about a present day (well, present for the 80’s) young man who wields a magical baseball bat and learns, in some ambiguous way that his bat is Excalibur and that he is a modern day incarnation of King Arthur? Yes, No? Eh, it was one of those kick-ass series that time forgot. Of course, I remember it fondly and it’s one of those lesser-known comics that I always thought would make a great live-action movie or Television series. Apparently, I’m not the only one that thinks so, because Watchmen film producer Llyod Levin has just acquired the film rights to Mage. Variety says that Levin has taken the rights to the first 15 issue story arc, called The Hero Discovered. Levin plans to finance the development and production of the film, and then take the project to a studio for distribution. A tactic that basically mirrors that of Kick-Ass, from a financing perspective.
Personally I cannot wait for this. It’s by far one of my favorite comics of all time. Though, just because the property has been optioned off and gears are in motion to make a film I have to be cautiously optimistic. There is potential for a great comic-book film here, but it’s all dependent on what directing, writing and acting talent Levin brings to the project. With Levin’s credit to Watchmen and with it being the most truest interpretation of a comic (maybe a little to true to form) in history I’m fairly confident that Mage will be handled right.
For those not familiar here is an overview of the comic:
The Hero Discovered follows Kevin Matchstick, an alienated young man with an uncanny resemblance to the author, as he meets a wizard called Mirth, discovers he has superhuman abilities, gains a magic baseball bat and defeats the nefarious plans of a being called the Umbra Sprite. He ultimately discovers that Mirth is Merlin, the baseball bat is Excalibur, and he is, in some ambiguous way, King Arthur. Also, all the chapter titles are lines from Shakespeare’s Hamlet.
A backup story, Devil by the Deed, appeared in issues #7-14 of The Hero Discovered. This was a Grendel story that led directly into the Grendel comic series penned by Wagner, and drawn by a series of different artists, changing as each arc of the story changed.
The Hero Defined picks up Matchstick’s adventures several years later as he fights supernatural menaces in the company of other heroes, including Kirby Hero and Joe Phat. Each hero he encounters is based on a genuine mythological character (Kirby as Hercules, Joe as Coyote) and comics professionals with whom Wagner has collaborated (Kirby as Bernie Mireault, Joe as Joe Matt). There is a new mage this time — Mirth has disappeared, and Matchstick is followed around by an old tramp called Wally Ut, who insists he is Matchstick’s new mentor. In the course of the story he learns that he has misunderstood his mission, meets his future wife, and is alienated from his fellow heroes. He also discovers that he represents more than one mythical character: he is also Gilgamesh, and Kirby is also Enkidu. The chapter titles of The Hero Defined are from Macbeth, and Matchstick’s wife and her siblings are heavily based on the Weird Sisters.