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Pocus Hocus Will Put a Spell on You

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Pocus Hocus #2

The saga of the greatest magician the world has ever known continues in this second issue as Pocus Hocus -- his real name, not a stage name -- once more comes face to face with the very demon he once summed to bargain for the supernatural abilities he possesses and passes off as slight of hand and illusion.

The demon has a problem - and a proposition. He's an inveterate gambler (as are all demons) and he's wagered in currency he didn't possess. The currency of Hell being contracts for souls, the demon has a plan to enlist Pocus in acquiring these new souls so he can pay off his debts and avoid oblivion; Pocus, his own existence inexplicably linked to the demon's, has little choice but to acquiesce, and put a new trick into his act that will fill the demon's pockets with more copies of "The Damned Contract."

But a new variable enters the equation as Pocus's lovely assitant, Emily, pushes him to teach her more stage magic. Having other things on his mind at the moment, he puts her off, leaving her to her own discoveries... among which lies the truth.

Allen Dunford and Will Radford have crafted a fast-moving, horror-comedy that, upon the end of the issue, has you counting pages to see if you were shortchanged because it feels like the story is over too soon. (The book is actually over 35 pages, so no, you weren't.) The characterizations of each player are unique and human (in the cases of the human characters at least). The interplay between Pocus and the demon (and everone else for that matter) deftly communicates the jaded, hopeless feeling of being lost the magician has, despite having everything he ever wished for (or almost -- see issue #1 for the ironic twist of his contract). 

Brian Balondo and Jasen Smith work magic of their own with the artwork in this book. The story is done in a blend of black and white and color, where color appears only when there is something magic. So scenes of the demon in Hell are fully colored, but once the reader is in the physical world, everything is in shades of gray except for the demon, writing on the contract, and other bits and bobs of enchantment. It's a genius idea in storytelling, and there's always enough magic somewhere on the page to almost make you forget it's a black and white book.

Pocus Hocus is a crowdfunded book with its origins in Kickstarter. With this second issue, the book has expanded from seventy-two backers for the first book to one-hundred-and-seventy-two backers! And if you simply cannot wait for the next campaign to catch up on these back issues while getting in on what everyone else is recognizing as a good thing, you can always head over to the online store, www.BadBugmedia.com where you can (and should) get both issues for $5.99 each (as well as other Bad Bug titles like Midnight Highway and Black Jackets).

Grade: 
5.0 / 5.0