When people hear a story about a bespectacled pre-teen from London with shaggy black hair and an owl companion who is approached by strangers and shown a world of magic, they often assume it’s about Harry Potter. However, this description actually predates J.K. Rowling’s beloved series by nearly a decade and refers to the character of Tim Hunter from DC Comics.
DC Comics Made Harry Potter
Tim Hunter is a character of immense power with a long history, yet he has been overshadowed and forgotten due to the popularity of Harry Potter. He even had the opportunity to hit the mainstream with a big-budget movie, but it was shut down by Warner Brothers out of fear of being too similar to Harry Potter.
The Books of Magic, written by Neil Gaiman and illustrated by John Bolton, follows the journey of Tim Hunter, an average 12-year-old boy from London who is approached by powerful magic users from the DC Universe. The group, consisting of Constantine, the Phantom Stranger, Dr. Occult, and Mr. E, reveals to Tim that he is destined to become the greatest magician of all time. However, it’s unclear whether he will become a force of good or evil.
The Books of Magic Story
The story sees Tim on a journey throughout the world of magic past, present, and future, with each of the four issues focusing on a different mentor showing him a different world or era. The comics educates Tim about the various rules, creatures, and entities that might dwell within each of the different types of magic. The flavors of magic are visually differentiated by having a new artist for each issue, each with their own distinct style.
Tim’s journey is accompanied by an owl named Yo-Yo, who was literally a yoyo transformed into a bird and goes on to become his lifelong companion. Together they see the beginning of time with Lucifer’s rebellion and his descent into hell, the world of the magical Fae, and a bar filled with every kind of magic user that one can imagine. They also travel to the End of Time, where Mr. E, who had been Tim’s mentor, betrays his companions and tries to kill Tim. Death of the Endless saves Tim from being killed, and Mr. E is punished by being forced to walk back to the present through the eons that he had flung himself and Tim through.
Magic in This DC Harry Potter
Throughout the story, Tim is being hunted by a group of evil magic users that are trying to use him for their own nefarious schemes. However, they are all killed off-screen, except for one taken out by The Spectre and another taken out by Deadman while possessing a homeless man.
While the plot of The Books of Magic may not be the most intricate or complicated, it is still an incredible read that explores deep concepts and has wonderful themes. One can interpret the book as a coming-of-age story, wherein a boy starts to become aware of the wider world around himself and begins the journey of becoming the person he wants to become.
The Books of Magic was well-received, and a movie based on it was announced quickly after it came out, but it was stuck in development hell for years. When Harry Potter hit the scene, the project faced even more issues since it had to avoid similarities to Harry Potter, which resulted in Tim no longer being a 12-year-old bespectacled English kid.
In conclusion, Tim Hunter is a fascinating character whose creation predates Harry Potter. Although he has been overshadowed and forgotten due to the popularity of the latter, his story is still worth reading. The Books of Magic is not just a beautiful rendering of the magical side of the DC Universe, but a story of a boy’s growth and self-discovery on the path to becoming the greatest magician of all time.
Source: Comic Drake