Matt Wagner is one of comics' most beloved creators, thanks to his original series Grendel, his DC superhero projects like Batman and the Mad Monk and, of course, his fantasy comic Mage. Mage is well-known for its distinctive art, powerful fantasy allegories ... and for the fact that it's been left unfinished since the second volume ended in 1999.
Now, nearly 20 years after the last volume ended and more than 30 years after the beginning of the series, Wagner is finally giving us the third and final volume of Mage.
Wagner announced at Emerald City Comic-Con over the weekend that Mage: The Hero Denied will begin publication with a #0 issue released at San Diego Comic-Con this July. Like the other two volumes, The Hero Denied will be a 15-issue series, this time picking up the story of Kevin Matchstick several years after Volume 2, The Hero Defined. As always, Wagner will both write and draw the issues, with colors this time around by his son Brennan.
"The storyline follows my life, everything in it is a metaphor for my life," Wagner said. "I'm telling the story of my life through a fantasy allegory. This one is a few years down the line. Our hero, Kevin Matchstick, is living a different kind of life. It feels great being back on this series. It feels very natural."
Mage is the story of Kevin Matchstick, an apparently ordinary man who learns that he is a reincarnation of King Arthur, complete with a magic baseball bat that serves as a modern Excalibur. It began as a Comico series in 1984, then re-appeared as an Image Comics series for Volume 2 in 1997. Now, at last, Wagner is returning to his beloved creation for the long-promised third volume.
"I don't really have any explanation as to why it took me so damn long," Wagner said, "other than sometimes things feel right, sometimes they don't."
Look out for Mage: The Hero Denied this summer, and if you haven't read the original volumes, track down some reprints. They're great.