The relationship between comic books and magic fascinates me. One day I want to write a book, or a very long series of articles, about the links between them. With several comic professionals claiming they are magicians, their comics, at least, are essentially the modern grimoire (or pop magic’s version of the magical diary or the emerald tablet). Comic books detail ancient myth reinterpreted through a modern medium. I yearn to explore how some are infused with extra insight for the initiate.
Anyway, when I do write that book, Benton Rooks and Juan Chavarriga’s Kali Yuga will be in there. At the very least, I would belabor the point in John David Ebert’s introduction where he states the idea of comics as the modern continuation of ancient shamanic thought.
The most immediate impression, one that stays with the reader, is the art. Juan Chavarriga manages to create rich, contemplative compositions, placing him on par with well-known artists such as Alex Grey. Each panel is a work of art in itself. Chavarriga never neglects to infuse the sequential art with vibrant energy.
Ebert’s introduction promises a treatise imbued with insight into not only Shamanic but also Gnostic mysticism. The work that follows fulfils that promise. The introduction describes the protagonist, Abraiis, as a master. Initially I was adverse to the idea of another all-powerful wizard. Characters like this trouble me. They present a challenge to occult writers and readers alike, upsetting the balance of powers. Superman’s near omnipotence can present to mainstream writers and audiences a similar problem. Nevertheless this worry was assuaged when I was thrust headlong into a maelstrom of entheodelic storytelling. (You can find an article on just what entheodelic storytelling is here.)
What I will say is that you’d be right in guessing it has something to do with entheogens. Rather than an over powered psychonaut, Abraiis is introduced as being at the mercy of some form of strange brew. We follow him as he traverses the inner planes, exploring their outward manifestations and encountering their denizens. Rooks clothes some of these demons, or archons, in the fabric of modern conspiracy, using grey extraterrestrials and evoking ancient reptilian cabals to represent the various antagonists one might encounter on the way to alchemical apotheosis.
There are two types of psychedelic users in the world. First are recreational users. The second half comprises the reverent. Being of the latter category it is always a pleasure reading and viewing the works of other chemo gnostically curious wanderers. Be they the aphorisms of Timothy Leary, the contemplations of his contemporary Robert Anton Wilson, the ethnobotanical egresses of Terence McKenna, or the slick, modern, eternally hopeful comics of Grant Morrison.
Abundantly present throughout these works is the elusive truth that unites the voices and minds of those that have perceived it. Magic, is an attempt to comprehend and reproduce that message, perhaps even more than actual tomes comics lend themselves to.
If Kali Yuga were to have one fault, it would be that the issue itself is incredibly short, so short that the end cliffhanger leaves me just a tiny bit underwhelmed. That said, it wouldn’t dissuade me from picking up the following issue, or recommending it to a friend. In fact, Kali Yuga is a book I will be keeping a beady third eye on.