Zatanna Zatara is one of the most powerful magicians to walk the Earth, capable of altering the fabric of reality with one backwards word.
But what was she like in college?
If you’ve ever been a college student, you know it’s a highly unique time in a person’s life. You’re a newly minted adult, free to make your own choices, but those choices are complicated by the fact that you haven’t yet settled into the person you’ll ultimately become. It’s an unpredictable and wild time in most people’s lives. So imagine what it’s like when magic is thrown into the mix.
This is the background of MYSTIK U, an upcoming prestige-format limited series written by Alisa Kwitney (Destiny) and drawn by Mike Norton (Revival, Runaways) that will reimagine the lives of four of DC’s magic users in spectacular new ways. To give us the background on this unique new title, we spoke with both Alisa and Mike about what readers can expect when classes start this fall.
So what is Mystik U about?
Mike: Mystik U is about a sheltered show biz kid (Zatanna), a bitter rebel (Sebastian Faust, son of Felix), a split personality (Enchantress), a competitive premed student (new character Pia Morales), and an awkward prodigy (Sargon the Sorceror) all discovering that they have the capacity to perform real magic.
They’re enrolled at a university for the magically gifted, where the world’s most powerful practitioners of magic will mentor their fledgling talents…and try to discover which of them is fated to betray the others and become a powerful force of evil.
Sounds like we can expect plenty of magic. What else can we expect?
Alisa: Human stuff. The first year of college is a kind of theater where people improvise themselves—sometimes they change their names, and they might adopt a whole new way of dressing along with a new passion. It’s also a place where you might discover that, after years of being on the bottom of the food chain in high school, there are people who recognize your talents. But the opposite can also occur—you realize that you’re no longer the best in the class at something. Mystik U is very much a story of freshman orientation for Zatanna and the others, but on magickal steroids.
Mike: An interesting take on a story you may have thought you knew. I’ve really enjoyed looking at some of these characters in a way I never did before!
Is there a villain?
Mike: Gotta have a villain!
Alisa: There is definitely a villain, but there’s also an exploration of the villain’s journey. One of the things I always loved about Harry Potter was the unfolding of the story of the young Tom Riddle and how he came to be Lord Voldemort. If I could ask J.K. Rowling to write a book for me, it would be the complete tale of Tom Riddle’s school days at Hogwarts.
Some of your core cast members—like Sargon the Sorcerer—aren’t as well known. Why did you pick this particular cast?
Alisa: I wanted some of the more obscure magical characters from the DCU because I knew I would have the freedom to explore different aspects of them. For example, it seemed clear to me that Sargon should be from the Middle East. The historical Sargon of Akkad was the founder of a dynasty that ruled over what is now Iran and Iraq and beyond. I also wanted to look more closely at Sargon’s relationship with his ruby. Does it give him his powers, or enhance them? And at what cost?
I wanted a brooding, aloof, tormented Heathcliff type, because that’s always sexy, and Sebastian Faust fit the bill perfectly. I mean, he gets his powers because his father, the evil sorcerer Felix Faust, betrays him and uses him. And Faust (the son) needs to conceal his eyes with dark glasses because he’s not in complete control of his power. That’s just deliciousness to a writer. I don’t know why everyone hasn’t been clamoring to write more Faust.
As for Enchantress, I wanted to show a different side of her. I don’t see June Moon and Enchantress as a good girl/bad girl split, or a clear case of possession. I mean, who hasn’t gone to college and experimented a bit and discovered a new side of themselves?
And then there’s Zatanna. There’s so much expectation placed on her—she’s the one who comes into the book, and the school, with a reputation, with history and baggage. Everyone expects her to be the one to watch—so how does that impact on her? And what happens when she doesn’t perform as well as she—and everyone else—expects?
Pia, who is the new character, is clearly the most obscure. She thought she was on one track—medical school—until her powers manifested and she realized she had to figure out what to do with this new ability. She’s also snarky and opinionated. I get tired of seeing ensemble casts where the guys get all the funny lines and the girls are always left saying, “Come on, it’s time to get back to work.” Pia’s a bit of a wiseass.
These are all younger versions of the characters than we’re used to seeing. What went into designing their look in this series?
Mike: A lot of thought went into trying to make modern, real-life looks for the established characters. It was challenging and fun updating some of the more obscure characters too. This hasn’t been a part of the DCU I’ve had a lot of experience in, so it’s been a blast jumping in and playing.
We’ve definitely seen magical schools before. How does Mystik U differ from that other very popular wizarding school?
Mike: Well, that other school doesn’t have the House of Mystery or the House of Secrets on its campus! That’s one difference!
Look for the first 48-page issue of Mystik U to manifest in comic shops on November 29, 2017. Check out the full solicit for the comic below…
MYSTIK U #1
Written by ALISA KWITNEY
Art by MIKE NORTON
Cover by JULIAN TOTINO TEDESCO
Leave the world of the mundane behind and step through the magical doors of Mystik U! After a tragic accident, a young Zatanna Zatara, under the guidance of Rose Psychic, enrolls in a mysterious university that teaches its students how to master their unique brands of magic. Will Zatanna fit in with her new classmates (Enchantress, Sargon the Sorcerer, Faust and more!) and unlock her true potential? Find out in this exciting bimonthly miniseries from novelist Alisa Kwitney (DESTINY) and Mike Norton (Revival, Runaways)!
On sale NOVEMBER 29 • 48 pg, FC, 1 of 3, $5.99 US • RATED T+