DC and Vertigo comics about magic and the occult
After compiling my previous horror-centric list of supernatural-themed comics, I realized that it was missing or underrepresented titles from one important category: stories about wizards, occultists, and magical beings published by DC Comics and its Vertigo imprint. This is my attempt to remedy that neglect.
While I was never a fan of mainstream American superhero comics, I had a soft spot for DC because of the more mysterious and magical regions of its fictional universe. The prominence of mystical and mythological themes in DC publications can be explained in two ways.
Firstly, it has a very long history as a publisher, dating back to an era when tales featuring the paranormal were very much in fashion. Consider that the creation of a character like Doctor Occult predated that of Superman, and contrast that with the Marvel universe, which was built largely on the ideas of hip 1960s pop sci-fi.
Secondly, the British Invasion of the 1980s brought to DC several writers who were either practicing occultists themselves or fascinated by the imaginary of the esoteric arts. The Invasion inspired the creation of the Vertigo “mature readers” label, which allowed for in-depth and daringly transgressive explorations of magical and darkly fantastical themes. And because some of the Vertigo titles remained linked to the main DC universe, this mutual interpenetration resulted in a revival of interest in supernatural superheroes.
I know very little about canon and continuity, even less about power levels, and I’m not up to date on current events at DC. From the scant information that has reached me, it appears that the publisher is currently going through something of a crisis and that many of its magic-related titles have been canceled in recent years. Even if this is the case, I hope that the earlier comics listed here are sufficient to keep anyone interested in this genre reading for months.
(I hasten to add that I am aware that Promethea was actually published by America’s Best Comics rather than Vertigo, but since it is still a DC property, I feel it is within my rights to include it here.)