Books of Magic, The:

Original Mini-Series (1990-1991)

In 1990, while still new to DC Comics, Neil Gaiman authored the prestige-format mini-series The Books of Magic, which introduced Timothy Hunter, a teenager destined to be the world’s greatest magician.

The idea prefigured Harry Potter. But in The Books of Magic, it was only the lynchpin around which Gaiman hung a story that followed on the heels of Alan Moore’s work in Swamp Thing by uniting DC’s various magical worlds and characters into a cohesive, shared universe. Thus, in order to introduce Timothy Hunter to magic, four magical DC characters gathered, guiding Tim through different aspects of DC’s magical universe. The series was made more stunning by its illustration, entirely painted by a different artist for each issue whose style was suited to the subject matter at hand.

The downside of this approach was that the art and the picture of DC’s magical realms, more complete than ever before or since, stood out more than the starring character. This would set a pattern for later follow-ups, which (with various degrees of success) attempted to show Timothy Hunter’s maturation towards the world’s greatest magician. Gaiman’s story had been Timothy Hunter’s, but the real focus had been on DC’s magical realms.

The first sequel came immediately after the original series: the largely-forgotten Mister E, a four-issue mini-series that featured Timothy Hunter but largely focused on Mister E, who had been stranded at the end of time in the conclusion to Gaiman’s mini-series.

The Books of Magic

The Books of Magic Vol. 1 #1

“The Invisible Labyrinth”

  • written by Neil Gaiman; art by John Bolton
  • first appearance of Timothy Hunter, a teenager destined to be history’s greatest mage
  • John Constantine, Doctor Occult, Mister E, and the Phantom Stranger combine forces to instruct Timothy Hunter
  • the Phantom Stranger shows Tim the past
  • cameo appearances by Doctor Fate (Kent Nelson) and Zatara

first issue; cover by John Bolton; published by DC Comics; 48 pages; $3.95

The Books of Magic Vol. 1 #2

“The Shadow World”

  • written by Neil Gaiman; art by Scott Hampton
  • Constantine shows Tim the world of magic
  • Baron Winter, Deadman, Doctor Fate (Nabu), Doctor Thirteen, Jason Blood, Madame Xanadu, the Spectre (Jim Corrigan), Zatanna, and Felix Faust appears

cover by Scott Hampton; published by DC Comics; 48 pages; $3.95
The Books of Magic Vol. 1 #3

“The Land of Summer’s Twilight”

  • written by Neil Gaiman; art by Charles Vess
  • Doctor Occult escorts Tim around Fairie
  • Cain and Abel, the Sandman (Dream), and Titania appear
  • Titania reveals herself to be Tim’s mother

cover by Charles Vess; published by DC Comics; 48 pages; $3.95
The Books of Magic Vol. 1 #4

“The Road to Nowhere”

  • written by Neil Gaiman; art by Paul Johnson
  • Mister E takes Tim to see the future, going as far as the end of time, where we witness Destiny’s death and Death closes up the finished universe
  • contains the first appearance of an evil future Tim
  • Mister E is left stranded at the end of time
  • the Demon, Doctor Fate (Nabu), Jonah Hex, some members of the Legion of Super-Heroes, the Spectre (Jim Corrigan), Superman, Tefé, and Zatanna appear

final issue; cover by Paul Johnson; published by DC Comics; 48 pages; $3.95; cover-dated Apr 1991

The Books of Magic

collects The Books of Magic Vol. 1 #1-4; introduction by Roger Zelazny; cover by Richard Bruning; published by DC Comics / Vertigo; $19.95; cover-dated Mar 1993

Additional Images:

The Books of Magic: The Invitation

written by Carla Jablonski; adapts The Books of Magic Vol. 1 #1-4; Books of Magic novel #1; introduction by Neil Gaiman; cover by Christopher Moeller; published by HarperCollins; $5.99; published May 2003

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Mister E

Mister E #1

“At the End of Time” -- 24 pages

  • written by Kevin Wayne Jeter (as K.W. Jeter); pencils by John K. Snyder III; inks by Jay Geldhof
  • tells Mister E’s origin and introduces his shadow-self
  • the Phantom Stranger introduces the new female Doctor Fate (Inza Nelson) to Timothy Hunter

first issue; cover by Merritt Dekle; published by DC Comics; $1.75; cover-dated June 1991

Mister E #2

“Master!” -- 24 pages

  • written by Kevin Wayne Jeter (as K.W. Jeter); pencils by John K. Snyder III; inks by Jay Geldhof
  • reveals Mister E’s true origin
  • Mister E regains his eyes and gives them to the shadow-self
  • Timothy Hunter appears

cover by Merritt Dekle; published by DC Comics; $1.75; cover-dated July 1991
Mister E #3

“Maze” -- 24 pages

  • written by Kevin Wayne Jeter (as K.W. Jeter); pencils by John K. Snyder III; inks by Jay Geldhof
  • the shadow-self kills the Temptress

cover by Merritt Dekle; published by DC Comics; $1.75; cover-dated Aug 1991
Mister E #4

“The Power” -- 24 pages

  • written by Kevin Wayne Jeter (as K.W. Jeter); pencils by John K. Snyder III; inks by Jay Geldhof
  • Mister E battles Timothy Hunter only to give up and kill the shadow-self
  • the Phantom Stranger’s plan is revealed

final issue; cover by Merritt Dekle; published by DC Comics; $1.75; cover-dated Sept 1991


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