I’m going to admit something right at the beginning of this review. I’ve never read James Patterson’s Witch and Wizard series. I’m going to admit something else, too. Now I want to so that I can recommend it to my nieces and nephew, for whom I think it would be totally age-appropriate in their bracket of 11-14 or so. Although I’m all about making book lovers into comic lovers, every once in a while a wonderful role reversal happens where I will pick up and interesting looking comic book that turns me on to the original medium for the story, which in this case are the Witch and Wizard books.
Victor Santos’ not-too-mature, colorful art and the well-flowing storyline make this comic book easy to fly through. Battle for Shadowland is volume one of the James Patterson’s Witch and Wizard series in comic book form. This volume, co-written by Dara Naraghi, was originally released as four comic issues that are now available in this collection, takes place in between books one and two of the prose novels. I love the idea of expanding upon a novel (especially those that leave us wanting more) in the form of a comic book. Seeing beloved characters come alive in the artwork adds a whole other dimension to a story. Unfortunately, most of the time the reader is completely dependent upon the original book in order to understand the events of the comic. The fact that this is not the case for Battle for Shadowland is perhaps my favorite thing about it. I could pick it up as a new reader and be quickly provided with the appropriate amount of back story to neither be bogged down in facts nor be completely lost.
The story begins by explaining the situation of the world as it stands. The New Order (N.O) has taken over the country, instituting a severe crush-down on civil liberties. The New Order’s council “took the necessary steps to elevate this nation to its rightful moral, cultural, and technological supremacy. This was achieved through a series of decrees designed to eliminate the corrupting influences of the old world.” Or as Whit and Wisty might categorize these eliminations – “everything worth living for, including freedom.”
Whit and Wisty Allgood are brother and sister. They are also a wizard and a witch. According to prophesy, they are the destined liberators of this the current political repression that has swept across their world. A resistance has formed made up of some of the greatest young (very young) minds left in the country.
After a convert mission across enemy lines to retrieve a very important set of hard drives with vital information on them, the resistance finds out that N.O had developed the technology to make travel portals to the Shadowlands. The Shadowlands is a realm inhabited by ghosts where very few people can travel (aside from Whit and Wisty because of their psychic powers). The kids of the resistance must figure out how to save the Shadowlands from the N.O. What might prove to be even more of a problem, though, is figuring out how to get along during that process.
Of course this is a James Patterson plot. I picked it up to be entertained, not to be rocked to my core by the profound nature of its elaborate layers. The comic was completely successful in that endeavor. I certainly wouldn’t recommend this for most of my adult friends due to the simplicity of the writing, but for the kids that I know, this comic book might be a great way to encourage some reading. I will absolutely be reading volume 2, Operation Zero, to report in on Whit and Wisty’s progress.