Imagine a comic book that has all the immersive power of a video game, complete with side quests, battles, hidden treasure and choices that have consequences. In Iron Magicians: The Search for the Magic Crystals (Quirk Books), the reader becomes the protagonist.
In a fantastical steampunk Paris, Gustave Eiffel is unveiling his Tower at the World’s Fair. The reader is called upon to collect crystals which will charge the tower to defend Paris against a magical attack. But will they succeed? And what kind of person will they become?
Written by Cetrix and illustrated by Yuio, Iron Magicians is an intricate game that you won’t want to stop playing. The reader travels the Paris streets, looks for ghosts in the Opera Garnier, hunts zombies in Père Lachaise cemetery and encounters magical paintings in the Louvre. This is a choose-your-own-adventure comic, guaranteeing that each read-through will be unique.
Readers start the quest as either a boy or a girl, each with different charisma, magic and technology stats. As the quest unfolds, the reader can change these stats using potions, spells or clothing items. Tear-out sheets (as well as printable ones online, or you can use a notebook) make keeping track easy and fun.
The reader can start their search wherever they choose. From there, the possibilities are as endless as their cunning and curiosity. Iron Magicians completely engrosses the reader in the quest as they navigate by looking for numbers in the comic panels. They then turn the page to that number to get to the next panel. Sometimes, the numbers blend in with the scenery which makes it all the more rewarding when you discover a hidden pathway or some unexpected francs.
A tear out compass and wheel of fate are included which the reader spins a crayon on (or you can use a die) to determine the outcome of skirmishes with monsters or journeys from one location to the next. I truly felt like I was living the story, especially when your options change based on what you’ve chosen before. Often in the quest, your character can decide to either treat someone with kindness or attack outright. Sometimes, being hesitant helps and other times, it leads to danger. You have five life points until it’s all over. The way you treat other characters along the way follows you through out.
I died twice before I finished it. Not only is this expected but encouraged. Each time I started again I realized I had missed a path I could take or a person I could speak to. Failure becomes a good thing that the reader can use to strategize their next move.
So not only will kids (and parents) be completely engrossed by this epic quest, it teaches them to pay close attention to every detail. They are rewarded for their determination and note keeping. And when all thirty crystals are collected and the Eiffel Tower glows a beautiful blue, there is no better feeling than knowing you’ve saved France.
Iron Magicians is now available.
About the Author & Illustrator:
Cetrix has been a game designer and writer since 2010 and has worked in the French video game industry since 2015.
Yuio is a Belgian comics artist, colorist and illustrator.