THE BLACK MAGE by Daniel Barnes


by ; illustrated by
Age Range: 12 - 18
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St. Ivory Academy of Spellcraft and Sorcery has launched a Magical Minority Initiative, but newly enrolled Tom Token discovers it’s harboring some long, dark secrets.

Artistically influenced by anime and manga, this volume puts a contemporary racial twist on the misadventures of teenagers in a wizarding school à la Hogwarts. Readers are introduced to St. Ivory—think ivory tower—which presents itself to the brilliant yet underserved black teenager Tom as interested in increasing diversity and stepping away from its separate-but-equal past, or so says headmaster Atticus Lynch III. Readers can expect racially coded puns throughout. Some might call it campy, others corny for its humor, which in no meaningful way disguises the meta-purpose of the text as a racial allegory on today’s struggle amid much neo-Confederate discourse on increasing minority representation versus achieving substantive racial justice goals. Readers find the ghostly Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass, and the (possibly mythical) figure of John Henry thrown in to offset the obvious villains with a cohort of black resistance historical actors. After experiencing numerous stereotypical racial microaggressions, Tom and his familiar, a crow named Jim, are clued into a web of a conspiracy that goes back to the Civil War. With the help of his student liaison and newly-minted White Ally(™) Lindsay, they must act before fatal consequences ensue.

Succeeds at increasing black representation in graphic fantasy but not much else. (Graphic novel. 12-18)

Pub Date: Oct. 29th, 2019
ISBN: 978-1-62010-652-5
Page count: 144pp
Publisher: Oni Press
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15th, 2019