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‘Spell on Wheels #1:’ Advance Comic Book Review (Think of It Like a Road Trip Where We Might Have to Fight Demons)

There’s nothing quite like a solid first issue of a new comic series. Spell on Wheels #1 beautifully balances exposition, character introductions, and starting the adventure. The story begins when a man breaks into the home of witches Jolene Nguyen, Claire Bettany, and Andy Highsmith and steals trinkets, candles, and talismans to sell off to the highest bidder. This prompts the girls to go on a road trip to get it all back and teach their robber a lesson.

Simple concept, right? And the execution is so much more. Rather than take the Harry Potter trend of magic where everyone can do most things, the witches’ abilities feel more like trained super powers with everyone having their specialty. The background assumes most people know what witches, magic, and the associated tropes are and instead focuses its time on filling in the gaps and showing what’s unique about the setting.

Writer Kate Leth did a magnificent job with the main cast. This first issue is enclosed, completely focusing on Jolene, Claire, Andy, and the man who robbed them, but with enough connections at the periphery that the world doesn’t come across as small. Our witch trio are instantly likable, especially with how they play off of one another. Andy performs admirably as the new girl and excuse to grant the audience exposition. Jolene’s the driving force, rushing in and adding an element of aggression to the group. Claire is the voice of reason, balancing Jolene out, but, at times, is overly cautious. Not surprising from Leth, there’s an element of ho yay between them, but exactly what the relationship is between our main characters has yet to be defined.

Artist Megan Levens knocked this issue out of the park. The style of Spell on Wheels has a classic cartoon look, but, sadly, never gets too far out of the realm of possibilities. In issue #1, the magic used is tame. I hope to see Levens cut loose and draw out-of-this-world demons and more pronounced spell effects, which will blend perfectly with this style.

Spell on Wheels is in stores Wednesday, October 19th. Currently, it’s lined up to produce four more issues that are, no doubt, filled with the same magic as this strong beginning. For more info on the series and to see a preview, visit Dark Horse’s website.

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