Impressive from start to finish, Dark Horse Comics have themselves a winner with Machine Gun Wizards. The narrative doesn't let you pause for breath while the art transports you to a magical world: the best word to describe it is 'engrossing'.



Review: MACHINE GUN WIZARDS #4 Fighting To The End

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Heading to the shelves with a new title, Dark Horse ComicsMachine Gun Wizards #4 contains all of the exciting story elements from previous months. It also brings the larger than life historical adventure to a climactic finale, at least for now.

With a pot overflowing with idea’s and a creative team who know no bounds, what can Christian Ward possibly have planned for the fourth issue of his creator owned masterpiece? 

Machine Gun Wizards #4
Machine Gun Wizards #4 Credit: Dark Horse Comics

Writing On The Cards

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Seemingly defeated, Eliot Ness and his Untouchables still have a few hands to play. With their enemies turning on each other and an unexpected ally on their side, there is still hope for Chicago, and the rest of the world.

In this final issue of  the first arc of Machine Gun Wizards, Christian Ward is tying up all of his loose ends. While maintaining an exciting struggle in the present, he allows time for some characters to boast about their past, affording the writer the chance explain the history that shaped this world. The back-up strips from the previous three issues link perfectly into the main story and form the foundation of the magical elements of the story.

To make the narrative work there are a number of surprises in this issue. In fact, more than you would imagine. Ward seems to have a bottomless top hat of tricks from which he pulls his narrative punches. As a reader you barely have time to digest one twist before another is thrown at you. The relentless story pounds throughout the pages to a climactic roof-top ending that would make Robert Rankin proud. The term ‘page turner’ doesn’t do it justice.

Machine Gun Wizards #4
Machine Gun Wizards #4 Credit: Dark Horse Comics

Artistic Exploration

Leading the reader through the organised chaos is Sami Kivela’s wonderful artwork. Each panel captures the emotion of the character featured or the magic of the scene. Kivela’s art is as impressive up close and personal as it is is taking in the wide vista’s of 1930’s America. 

For a comic steeped so deeply in fantasy and science fiction it is surprising how realistic everything looks. The design and figure work is detailed and precise making it easier to accept the more outlandish elements of the narrative. For example, a flying car, although dramatic, seems natural within the framework of the narrative. Kivela also uses an array of striking viewpoints to heighten the tension within each scene. 

As in previous issues, the emotional theme of the scenes is reflected through the color work. The city nights are captured beautifully by an array of cool blues with hints of purple creeping in to represent the in-story magic at work. A number of different colors used by Christian Ward and Dee Cunniffe are either character specific or narrative related. The purple of the Toads blood is a prime example: As the source of the Magic in the world, the Toad touches many lives within the city and this is represented by the slow bleed of purple into the panels. 

With an increase in action comes a deluge of sound effects and fast paced text. Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou always excels at letter placement drawing attention to important speech while never overshadowing the images. 

Machine Gun Wizards is able to pull off the outlandish because the characterisation of its main cast is so captivating and believable. A large part of this is down to the interaction between the characters and Otsmane-Elhaou’s lettering brings out the best in the verbal back and forth. You get a real sense of who each character is from the lettering and placements of the speech balloons. Al Capone’s self assured arrogance is visualised by his speech overlapping borders and gutters, imposing itself across the panels and pages.  

Machine Gun Wizards #4
Machine Gun Wizards #4 Credit: Dark Horse Comics


Over the last few months Ward has pulled together a collection of narrative cliches and turned them into a compelling story. Machine Gun Wizards has the wonder of Harry Potter with the drama of The Untouchables and the outlandishness of Saga. All of these elements have been fused together to create the ultimate escapist adventure. 

Add into the mix the amazing artistic talent and you are on for a sure fire hit. Each issue has visually pushed the boat that little bit further. The concept never gets tired because Ward keeps twisting the story while Kivela and Co. bombard you with knock out images. The storytelling is engaging, easy to follow, and enthralling to the end. 

Machine Gun Wizards will appeal to anyone wanting a fun, exciting read but it will also appeal to genre fans and comic books enthusiasts as it combines a host of different elements all brought together in a single, beautiful package.  


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Darryll Robson
Darryll Robson
Comic book reader, reviewer and critic. Waiting patiently for the day they announce 'Doctor Who on The Planet of the Apes'.
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