Graphic Novel Reviews: W.I.T.C.H. – Volume 1


Sorry… Err…

What makes a man a man? Is it his stature, is it the things he reads? What then? I don’t know myself, but I swear I’m not a sissy for reading this!

I first noticed this series when I was channel surfing looking for something interesting to watch. I came across the Disney channel, not sure which one…how many do they have now anyway? And saw a show playing that while it featured “Magical Girls” also had monsters, good animation and a pretty neat art style. Also, I was quite certain it wasn’t anime, which was a bonus since I’m always on the lookout for animation that doesn’t come from Japan and doesn’t suck. I love anime, but sometimes it depresses me that it’s the only source for classic 2-D animation that I so love.

I watched an episode, it was alright, nothing incredible, and nothing horrible. Then a while later I decided to check it out more regularly, and found out what time it was on TV. I watched several episodes and found that while it was mostly geared towards younger audiences, specifically girls, it was perfectly watchable for anyone else. Then again, I’m not the best definition of “anyone else.” If you’re secure in your maturity and don’t think that watching a kids show makes you any less of an adult then I recommend the show. It also helps that compared to other magical girls shows the characters don’t make my ears bleed.

But this is not about the animated show. I’ll review that at another time. For now we’ll take a look at the first volume of the Italian Comic Book series that the animation is based off of.

First off, the American Graphic Novels only go so far in the series. In order to review the entire series I’ll probably have to see if I can order the original Italian issues online, or, if I want to be certain I can understand what I’m reading try for the German or French translations. Until then I will review what is available in English first.

The comic starts with the main character, Will Vandom moving to the town of Heatherfield with her mother. As far as protagonists go Will is the typical “New Kid.” She has her moments where I get annoyed with her, mostly because I think I’m transforming into an adult. Huh. Well I’m sure this review ought to knock a few years off of my maturity.

The other girls, Irma, Taranee, Cornelia and Hay Lin are as follows: The Tomboy, The Nerd, the Fashion Queen…whatever, and the Ditzy One. When I saw the first episode of the show Irma was easily my favorite character as her reaction to finding out they had magic powers and a destiny to guard the world against evil forces wasn’t the typical “But why me? I don’t want to, wahwahwahwah!” Instead the first words out of her mouth were: “This is so cool! When can we start?” It also helps that she is the one always making fun of the snobby Cornelia, easily the most annoying character early, and later on.

Since it’s been two years since I saw the show, and a few months since I ordered the first volume off of Amazon, I have to confess that my tastes in entertainment have changed somewhat. Some might say they haven’t changed enough, but I stand by my Peter Pan Lifestyle. One thing I noticed while rereading this volume was that I find myself sympathizing with the adults more often than not in literature aimed at younger audiences. As such I’m finding that Mr. Collins, the history teacher, is turning out to be my favorite character. There’s something really appealing about the slightly goofy teacher who still takes his job seriously.

There are some pretty major differences between the comics and the animated series. For example…umm…actually, pretty much anything that could be changed was changed. It still tells the same story, but modified to fit the animation medium rather than the graphic novel medium. To be honest, I think it makes the animated series quite a bit better than the graphic novel. More on that later.

If you’re not a fan of teenage girl antics, seriously consider skipping this series. If you don’t care, more power to you. But after a few pages of introduction we learn that the girls are exhibiting magical powers, and very likely have been doing so their whole lives, as none of them seem to think this is strange. The only one really noticing something strange is Will, whose reflection seems to have put on a few years, inches, and curves, as well as a silly costume.

“Yer a cosplayer Will.”

Sorry, bad joke, but I needed to get one in here somewhere.

So the girls start exhibiting magical powers, Cornelia isn’t as annoying as I remember her being. Huh. Finally the plot starts moving. With a party. Definitely need to get back to reading I am not a Serial Killer after this. The gore should scrub off the girly.

Will doesn’t want to go because she doesn’t know anybody and she doesn’t like parties. And I fully relate to that. Granted I don’t have to worry about parties anymore now, since I don’t get invited to them anyway.

“Yer a social pariah.”

Yes, I am turning that into the running gag for this review. Deal with it.

Several self esteem issues and girl drama later we are at the party. Where stuff happens, and somehow the old mysterious guy got his hands on a picture of the girls just taken right at that moment. So the main villain is a magical stalker? Kudos on the originality I guess. Though that is a little dark.

Actually, he’s meant to be the mystical adviser, Oracle, leader person. Not sure, he doesn’t do much except exposition wisely, and foreshadow ominously. The real villain, Cedric, is introduced and he is…also…a stalker. Huh. Guess we’re really going with that. Whatever.

Things happen, magical things, and antagonist related things. The girls learn about the dark world of metamoor and the veil that protected all of eternity from its evil influence. Their task as guardians is to protect this veil from being breached. A serviceable, simple plot, if somewhat overdone, but I’m not complaining.

In the next half of the graphic novel Hay Lin’s grandmother dies. Huh. Odd. I remember her sticking around for longer in the animated show.

This is a good series for younger readers. It doesn’t bring up issues parents may not want said readers to encounter yet, while at the same time it doesn’t entirely dumb down the conflict. It’s a light read, and really you could do worse. The protagonists are all young girls, so the target audience is mostly female. So those are who I’d recommend this series to, younger female readers. And maybe a few male readers who don’t care if their fiction isn’t testosterone packed. Also, the humor is pretty decent in places.

Myself? While I enjoy the animated series because it’s an example of western animation that doesn’t completely suck, that and Greg Weisman worked on the second season. The Graphic Novel, at least the first volume, really isn’t a very stimulating read. It’s aimed directly at its target audience and doesn’t cross over much into other age groups, or even gender groups. The main conflict is a typical fantasy story, but to get to it you have to slog through teenage girl conflict and drama, which might not be worth it for some. Personally I have to admit I’ve read worse, but I’m not going to be putting it up as my favorite series ever any time soon.

Join me in a few weeks or so, when I review the second volume. Which hopefully can keep my attention long enough for me to get through the second half. Like many stories, it has a bad habit of starting off slow, which may work for some, but isn’t working for me in this case.

If you liked my review, buy the graphic novel here: W.I.T.C.H. Graphic Novel #1: The Power of Friendship

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