Magic: The Gathering is returning to the comic book plane with a new series from IDW Publishing launching this November.
Wizards of the Coast and IDW today announced Magic: The Gathering: Chandra, a new series written by Vita Ayala (Supergirl, The Wilds) with art by Harvey Tolibao (X-Men, Green Arrow). The series will tell an all-new tales focused on the pyromancer Planeswalker Chandra Nalaar.
This will be the first Magic: The Gathering comic book series published in four years and represents a change in approach for comics based on the popular card game, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary.
"Think of a character that you love. From any story, from any property. There is an excellent chance that you were introduced to that character by some kind of page, or some sort of screen," says Jeremy Jarvis, Magic: The Gathering franchise director. "We are thrilled to have Vita and Harvey introduce you to Chandra, to her story, her quirks, and her incredible powers. Set in the near future of the Multiverse, these never-before-told stories will breathe life into Chandra, her cohorts, and her enemies in new and visually striking ways. Knowledge of cards is optional, love of characters required."
IDW editor-in-chief John Barber adds, "I can't hold back my excitement about this new Magic: The Gathering comic book! With meteorically rising star Vita Ayala penning these tales, with the incredible art of Harvey Tolibao delineating the adventures, and with the introduction of the dynamic and powerful Chandra Nalaar, it's clear we've entered a bold new era of storytelling. Everybody involved in this comic is dedicated to bringing you emotional and thrilling experiences that will satisfy fans of Magic: The Gathering—as well as fans of stories packed with action and drama told from a unique point of view."
ComicBook discussed the new comic book series via email with Daniel Ketchum, Magic’s senior franchise art director. Here’s what he told us about the new series and new direction for the Magic: The Gathering comics.
It’s been a while since Magic has appeared in comic book form. What’s the mission statement of this relaunch and how is it different from what came before?
Daniel Ketchum: It’s an exciting time for Magic: The Gathering! Not only is this year Magic’s 25th anniversary, but there are a number of new initiatives in flight that are meant to expand the brand beyond the 2”x3” card frame. We’re launching new projects that are meant to express what existing Magic fans already know: the Magic multiverse is full of heroes and villains, exotic worlds brimming with stories of victory and heartbreak, and new horizons just aching to be explored. And we will indeed be exploring new horizons in this comic book.
While we will be exploring new horizons, we’ll have some familiar faces to guide us along the way. Unlike Magic's previous foray into comics, which featured a character not particularly associated with the established story of the card game, Magic: The Gathering: Chandra puts Magic’s marquee characters at the helm—Chandra Nalaar and Ajani Goldmane…and a character or two I won’t spoil for you here! They’ll take us on a courageous adventure across fantastical worlds.
But this adventure has a very human heart. We’ll be putting character first and foremost, taking care that readers see themselves reflected in the story, whether or not they’ve ever picked up a Magic card.
What can you say about the story that Vita Ayala and Harvey Tolibao will be telling as the new series begins and where it is headed?
I am SO excited to be collaborating with Vita and Harvey on this series! Vita is a longtime Magic fan who I actually used to draft with in New York City. And Harvey and I worked together on a number of projects in my former life as an editor at Marvel Comics. They are both bringing so much enthusiasm to this book and I’m thrilled to have them lending their talents to expanding the Magic multiverse!
The focus of Magic: The Gathering: Chandra is Chandra Nalaar herself, one of Magic’s most recognizable and beloved characters. Chandra is an impulsive, exuberant hero whose powers keenly match her fiery nature. She is also a Planeswalker—one of a handful of characters who has the unique ability to travel between the diverse worlds of the multiverse. In fact, the story opens on Chandra as she races from plane to plane, combatting monsters and saving lives to distract herself from tragedies that have befallen her in the not-so-distant past. The story Vita and Harvey are crafting is one of my favorite kind: it’s a very human story that resonates with experiences we’ve all had, but told through the lens of fantasy and
I’ve recently listened to James Wyatt talk about how he views Magic as a game where the story is revealed through the cards. How would you describe the Magic comic books’ role in relation to that story? How closely will the Magic comics mirror what’s happening with the new sets? Will the series, for example, jump to the plane of Ravnica as the new Ravnica sets begin coming out later this year, or is it on its own path?
The intention is that the comics live in the same universe as the card game, so they share continuity, but they are not beholden to tell the same stories. The card game gets to tell one story while the comic tells its own story that will often diverge and explore different narrative spaces. But it all sits on the shelf together harmoniously.
To get specific, the comic opens in the near future, in the aftermath of what’s happened on Ravnica. And Chandra is struggling to come to terms with what she’s just experienced. The story is picking up on threads created by the card game and its story, but the comic allows us to follow Chandra’s journey—especially her emotional journey—with depth and breadth to which the card game isn’t conducive.
We’ll follow Chandra across planes and through various conflicts, and see her interactions with various planeswalkers. And because the comic and card game aren’t strictly tied together, we’ll get to check in on fan-favorite planes and characters the card game may not visit anytime soon.
Magic is a franchise that spans an entire multiverse with a lot of characters, but also specifically has a smaller set of iconic characters in its Planeswalkers. How focused on those Planeswalkers will these comics be, or will these stories encompass a wider range of characters?
Look no further than the title! The comics will focus first and foremost on the Planeswalkers, detailing their trials, tragedies, and triumphs. They are the vehicle for telling stories that span the entire multiverse, taking us from one exciting world to the next. But they will certainly cross paths with some familiar faces along the way because it’s those planebound characters who can make the stakes of any particular conflict on a single world real.
Wizards of the Coast recently announced the first official Magic: The Gathering and Dungeons & Dragons crossover with the Guildmaster’s Guide to Ravnica sourcebook for Dungeons & Dragons. We know that IDW Publishing also has a line of Dungeons & Dragons comics. Any chance a similar crossover between the two franchises could be in the works there as well?
Can we talk about how excited I am to roll a d20 as an Azorius Cleric?? My natural penchant for reading a D&D rulebook from cover to cover is FINALLY going to pay off in both gameplay AND roleplay!
That said, I don’t think there’s anything I can talk about on this front yet, but stay tuned…
For those of you who may not know a whole lot about Magic: The Gathering lore just yet but are interested in checking out the upcoming comic book, here's a little history on the new series' titular character, Chandra Nalaar.
Chandra grew up on a plane with an oppressive ruling government. She was raised by rebels who disobeyed the Consulate and were punished for their actions.
Chandra herself, still young at the time, was to be executed for crimes she did not commit. When her emotions seemed ready to overtake her, that's when her Planeswalker spark emerged and she escaped to another plane.
She was taught to use pyromancy by a group of monks and has maintained the independent streak instilled in her by her parents. She values freedom about all else and seeing little use for subtlety, making her the perfect personification of Magic's red mana.
Though she can be headstrong, Chandra took an oath to protect the innocent and agreed to work with a group of four other Planeswalkers as the Gatewatch to keep the multiverse safe.
Designed by Richard Garfield, Magic: The Gathering has been the definitive collectible card game for 25 years. With more than 20 million players worldwide, the game's universe and lore have grown considerably, alongside its player base, since it debuted.
IDW Publishing has published four Magic: The Gathering comic book series in the past, the first was titled simply Magic: The Gathering and the sequels taking the subtitles The Spell Thief, Path of Vengeance, and Theros.
Those series follow Dack Fayden, a planeswalker created specifically for the comic book series who had not appeared in Magic: The Gathering lore previously. The new series' focus on Chandra, one of Magic's most recognizable heroes, marks a major change in the direction of Magic comics.
Magic: The Gathering: Chandra #1 goes on sale in November.