Review: MYSTIK U #2

Written by Alisa Kwitney
Art by Michael Norton, Jordie Bellaire, and Deron Barrett
Edited by Marie Javins, Alex Antone, and Brittney Holzer
Published by DC Comics
Release Date: January 31, 2018

Zatanna struggles at Mystik U, both to find her place within the university’s social hierarchy and to master the magic within her. She appears to find a shortcut to both when she’s invited to pledge an on-campus sorority…

This issue follows Zatanna as she continues to struggle with getting her magic to work correctly and fit in at Mystik U. The solution to both problems presents itself when she’s invited to a sorority mixer, but her friends from the dorms are dubious. Time passes, relationships grow, and Zatanna discovers the hard way who her real friends are. Meanwhile, the Malevolence we’ve seen passing glimpses of only grows.

Mystik U is a delightful book, realistically capturing the awkwardness of finding your role on your own and learning to make a new social net for yourself free independent of the old one you had with your parents and friends at home. There are a lot of interesting metaphors going on here, with the sorority as bees forming a kind of hive mind in service of a queen bee, and with Zatanna’s loss of her father as a kind of analogy for feeling alone and adrift as you try to build new friendships as a pseudo-adult in college.

All of the characters in Mystik U have great voices that feel really authentic to the college experience, whether Sargon’s awkwardness around women or Plop’s feeling of being weird and looking for a way to change himself to fit in. It all adds up to a wonderfully relatable work about growing up, even as it uses magic and demons and comic book characters to tell its story.

Moreover, this issue is refreshing in that, while it does build from the last issue and set the plot in motion for the climax in the next issue, it tells the complete story of Zatanna and the sorority all within its pages, without ever feeling rushed or forced. The expanded page count helps a lot with this, allowing the story to take all the time it needs to unfold. The result is well-paced and satisfying.

The art in Mystik U remains a highlight. There’s a great sense of place to the backgrounds that helps make the university feel real, and the facial expressions well-suit the tone of the book. Staging and panel layouts are dynamic and draw the reader in, particularly in montages and crowd scenes, as when Zatanna and friends attend the sorority mixer. Bellaire’s colors are, as always, gorgeous, soft, but colorful. They add a great spark when, for example, some students in the background are engaging in some small, goofy cantrip and it illuminates their faces in purple, a coloring detail that serves to add depth to the world.

Mystik U #2 is a great coming-of-age story for readers of all ages, with an authentic voice that never feels condescending. The art complements and enhances that story, and makes this book something truly special.

The Verdict: 9.0/10


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