Pore Over the Pages | Illustration by Magali Villeneuve
There have been a variety of ways Magic has told its story over the years. There have been tie-in novels, the free story articles that Wizards publishes online, and of course the cards themselves. One of my favorite methods of reading Magic’s story is through the form of the tie-in comic books that have been published by several different companies over the years.
While not all Magic comics are created equal, as a fan of both the source material and the medium, I’ve enjoyed each one to some degree. There are some great visual depictions of how magic works in the world of MTG, and it’s fun to see your favorite characters or even specific spells in action on the page.
For the purposes of these rankings, I’ve lumped some of the ongoing series together. This means that this isn’t a ranking of every individual issue that has ever been printed, but instead a mixture of storylines, one-shots, and extended runs by specific publishers. It’s also worth noting that comic books are an incredibly subjective medium when it comes to ranking them. Not only are they ranked on the basis of their stories, but what art styles you find appealing, or whether a specific lettering style works for you. Because of that, I think it’s worth checking out any comic on this list that sparks your interest, even if it’s at the bottom of the rankings.
Folio of Fancies | Illustration by Colin Boyer
MTG comics are comic books that feature characters and settings from Magic: The Gathering. Some of these are tie-ins to specific sets, while others are standalone stories. Some of the more recent comics are even completely separate from the canon of the game.
For this article, I’ve also only included western-style comics. But if you’re interested in finding out more about manga based on MTG, we have you covered.
Serra Angel #1 is a one-shot published by ARMADA comics. It feels the most disconnected from any major events in Magic’s story, and the narrative just wasn’t for me. It isn’t necessarily a bad comic, but it’s the one you can easily skip without missing anything important.
Homelands #1 is a one-shot that tells the story of the planeswalkers Feroz and Serra. While there are interesting lore tidbits in the story, the narrative takes place over so many years it’s hard to be too emotionally attached to any single event depicted. Fans who are more interested in the lore might enjoy this one more than me, but to me, all lore without a strong connection to the characters involved can be pretty dull.
Comics that were published by ARMADA alongside the Legends set were a bit of a mixed bag. Dakkon Blackblade #1 is a nice tight story that does a great job setting up Dakkon and Carth the Lion, but other books like Elder Dragons #1 and #2 are a bit cluttered with too many characters and not enough time to care about them all. The Legend of Jedit Ojanen books also tend to get a bit busy with their artwork, which leads to poorly flowing action in some parts.
Although the Arabian Nights set was based on a real-world setting, the Arabian Nights comics published by ARMADA take place on the Magic plane of Rabiah, where the set takes place within the Magic universe. The story focuses on the origins of Taysir, a powerful planeswalker who’s a significant player in these early Magic stories.
Fallen Empires #1 and #2 tell the origins of Tevesh Szat when he was still Tev Loneglade. The comics give insight into how Tev became the villainous and twisted planeswalker who would go on to betray Urza and the Titans. The book’s story is solid, and it helps that it connects with important events going on in Magic’s overarching story.
Gerrard’s Quest was a four-issue series published by Dark Horse that followed Gerrard and the Weatherlight crew through some of the events from the Weatherlight Saga. I’ve seen some complaints that the books leave out key background details, but as someone who follows Magic story, I found it to be pretty comprehensible. The series also features some excellent artwork by Pop Mhan, Norman Lee, and Dave Stewart. I’d say the visuals are a huge draw for this book, as the story isn’t going to be anything new to fans who know the Weatherlight Saga.
The current Magic comics published by BOOM! Studios are all pretty polished and read similarly to modern superhero comics. They also have very clear and easy-to-follow artwork, although it lacks some of the character found in the older comics. One downside I noticed is that issues can be pretty short, a frustrating feature when installments only come out once a month.
While I enjoyed the comics, it also bugged me a bit that they aren’t canon to Magic’s story. If you enjoy the characters featured, it’s not like it’s a waste of time to read, but I could see it being a letdown for fans of the comics to find out that the events won’t have any effect on the main game.
Ice Age was a four-issue run from ARMADA that told the story of the Magic set of the same name. There are lots of familiar faces from both the game and the previous ARMADA comics here, including Chromium Rhuell, Tevesh Szat, and Freyalise. We also get a few more Carthalions, Jason and Jaeuhl, to give a glimpse at what Carth the Lion’s descendants are up to since the Dakkon days.
The Ice Age block also included two issues titled Shandalar which continued the story of the first four issues. The books follow Faralyn as he arrives on the plane of Shandalar and continues a fun trend in the ARMADA comics of including cards from the game like Jester's Cap.
While the Antiquities comics were split into two titles, Antiquities War and Urza-Mishra War, these books both set up the events of The Brothers’ War. While not a comprehensive retelling of the war, these books do a great job setting up Urza’s and Mishra’s backstories and motivations. Fans also get to see the formation of the Third Path and Gix’s attempts to corrupt Mishra. The art also has a very old-school Magic feel to it, which adds to the feeling that this story took place a long time before the game’s current events.
If there’s one thing the ARMADA comics did well, it was translating a game of Magic into an exciting battle on the page. This gives fights like the one at the beginning of Nightmare #1 a uniquely MTG feel that’s lacking in some of the newer comics which sometimes rely too heavily on people just shooting differently colored beams at each other. This issue has a lot of fun Magic spells to show off and gives the backstory of a Nightmare named Caliphear who ends up featured in my favorite of the ARMADA comics later on.
Armada’s two series, The Shadow Mage and Wayfarer, tell the stories of Adam Carthalion and his son Jared Carthalion respectively. While published separately, their two stories tie closely in with one another, so it made sense to me to put them together.
By 1995, when these two stories were published, ARMADA had really hit its stride with the Magic comics. Their stories felt interconnected and meaningful l, and these books show off some of the best realizations of Magic’s unique combat. Wayfarer also goes in-depth about the different colors of mana and how best to draw on them and shape them to one’s will. Throughout the books, we get to see Jared become a powerful 5-color planeswalker. The only big problem with this book is that it sets up an epic story that never ended up being published.
IDW’s four-issue Chandra series follows Chandra as she clashes with Tibalt. The series includes Ajani and Chandra’s mother Pia, as well as notable settings like Ravnica, Kaladesh, and Zendikar. IDW intended these comics to be a good way to onboard fans who weren’t familiar with Magic’s long history by giving them some newer characters and settings to become familiar with. The books are a fun read and I think accomplish their goal of getting new players excited about Magic’s different worlds and some of its key players.
Though published under different subtitles, the first four Magic: The Gathering series published by IDW all follow the planeswalking thief Dack Fayden. I think because Dack was an original character created for the comic series, the writers had the freedom to tell a great story without having to worry too much about following a specific set.
The series isn’t just well-written; it also has incredible artwork that feels very appropriate for a Magic comic. While it leans a bit into the same superhero comic realm as some of the BOOM! comics, it still has a bit more of a magic feel to me. It helps that events from the comics were used to inspire promotional cards with special artwork like Treasure Hunt or Faithless Looting variants featuring Dack.
If you’ve ever been curious why a bunch of Magic fans were sad that a character who only ever got one card from a supplemental set died so unceremoniously, check out these comics.
The most recent ongoing Magic comic was the BOOM! Studios series which ended in April of 2023. However, BOOM! is publishing a one-shot titled Magic Planeswalkers: Notorious #1 in August of 2023. This isn’t the first Magic Planeswalkers one-shot the company has published, and it may not be the last. To stay up to date on any new comics from BOOM! about Magic, you can check out their site for any announcements or previews of upcoming books.
Whether a given MTG Comic is canon depends on the specific series. As I mentioned before, the BOOM! Studios comics explicitly aren’t canon to Magic’s story. However, many of the older comics were canon.
The tricky bit about determining the canon of earlier comics is the difference between Prerevisionist and Revisionist Magic canon. After Tempest came out, Wizards became much more involved in the story of the game. They declared anything going forward was a new canon, however, older books could still be considered canon so long as they didn’t contradict anything that came out after that.
For example, if there are any contradictions between the Antiquities comics and the recent Brothers’ War set, then the go-to source of canon would be the newer set because it’s part of the Revisionist continuity.
Some of the contemporary Magic comics from BOOM! Studios can be bought directly from their store page, or in comic book stores. The trade paperbacks of BOOM! MTG comics can also be found on Amazon, or read for free through Amazon’s Comixology Unlimited Subscription.
Older comics like the IDW series can also be found on Amazon in trade paperbacks. If you’re lucky enough to have a comic book store with a good amount of back issues, you may be able to find these comics there as well, though don’t expect to find any of the promo cards.
ARMADA’s Magic comics can also be found on Amazon, though because they’re so old they tend to be a bit more expensive. There may be some free sources to read these comics online as well, which is less questionable from an ethical standpoint since they have been out of print for so long. That said, perusing your local comic shop might be a better first step if you want it to stick around longer.
Bury in Books | Illustration by Zoltan Boros
One of the great things about Magic’s story is there are plenty of different ways you can interact with it. If you are a fan of comic books, then I think you should check out some of these series. They do a good job capturing the characters or the unique feel of the game’s world. Some also manage to tell engaging stories that can stand on their own apart from Magic.
What is your favorite Magic comic? Would you like to see canon comics make a comeback? Let me know in the comments or on Draftsim’s Twitter.
Thank you for reading and I’ll you next time!
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