By Alex Batts — The first issue of Tommy Gun Wizards was all about introducing the world and characters of the series. Tommy Gun Wizards #2, on the other hand, is full-throttle action and escalation. Writer Christian Ward, artist Sami Kivelä, colorist Dee Cunniffe, and letterer Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou return with a new chapter of this genre-bending gangster title set in the Windy City against the backdrop of a prohibition on magic.
This issue features some more backstory about how life in Chicago was after magic was introduced, but before it was banned. We’re given insight into Elliott Ness’ life before issue #1, as well as more background and character work for one of the series’ primary antagonists, the woman in red, Candice. The past scenes provide greater context for who these characters are now while also setting up some very interesting plot threads that are sure to be explored in the future.
Aside from filling in the story’s history, this issue also shows us the vast capability of incredibly powerful magic users. The first issue established that 99 percent of people who used the Lick (what grants people magical powers) only use mundane powers. In this issue, we get to see what the other one percent is capable of, and it’s glorious. Kivelä, Cunniffe, and Ward (who also does some of the coloring) continue to bring a level of grit and wonder to the art. Buildings and interiors are rendered to architectural perfection, with realism colored more mundanely, and then magic comes in and warps everything in a fantastic way.
When magic is in full force, the colors, action, and bombast leap off the page. The contrast between the normal and the extraordinary is sharp, and it serves to enhance the storytelling. The action in the first issue was a wonder to look at, and the team has cranked the action up to eleven for this issue. We see a full-blown magical battle in a church, and the use of magic is both ingenious and terrifying. It’s a true page-turner with intuitive paneling and epic splash pages that make it an all-around stellar set piece.
The action in the church takes up most of the issue and the pacing is fast yet deliberate. The battle is broken into sections, with each beat building on top of the last. There’s a particular page that has one of the most impactful page layouts I’ve seen in a long time, making perfect use of a splash image and a contrasting panel to give the art space to shine while providing a visual gut-punch through the use of its design. The story, art, and letters continue to work excellently in tandem too. Hassan’s speech bubbles and narration boxes are well distinguished and placed perfectly to enhance the flow. Lettering is an often underappreciated aspect of comics, but when done this well, it adds another layer of depth to each page.
The art remains an absolute stand-out, and Ward’s writing is extremely impressive. The characters feel so real and the world they inhabit looks stunning. I find myself stopping to just stare at the incredible level of detail put into each panel and am awed by the coloring as well. The pencils and inks build the world, and the colors inject such a strong mood into every scene.
The issue draws to a close by giving us an idea of the overall scope of Al Capone’s plans and a cliffhanger that’s sure to leave you begging for the next issue. The back-up story that’s written and illustrated by Ward also starts to make more sense in the context of the overall narrative. Everything in this issue builds off what was so brilliantly established in the first issue.
Overall: Tommy Gun Wizards #2 brings escalation, action, and revelations. The creative team continues to fire on all cylinders, delivering a one-of-a-kind experience that exemplifies just how great comics can be. 10/10
Tommy Gun Wizards #2
Writer: Christian Ward
Artist: Sami Kivelä
Colorist: Christian Ward with Dee Cunniffe
Letterer: Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
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Alex Batts is from Texas. A lifelong comic book enthusiast and movie lover, if he’s not talking about comics, he’s probably not talking. You can find him on Twitter by following @BatmanFiles