A Kind of Magic tackles some of Harry Potter’s biggest flaws
Despite the Harry Potter series being a beloved, best-selling fantasy series that has made an immeasurable impact on both speculative fiction and the lives of countless readers, I’ve always had some small quibbles with the collective Harry Potter universe as a whole. Nothing against the series or characters themselves mind you – at least until the latter books swap the initial whimsy and adventure for a grimdark macguffin fetch-quest at least – but with the universe itself.
A part of this may come from the fact that, from a certain view, the Harry Potter universe is a very disturbing place – a backward, aristocratic society that not only segregates themselves entirely from perceived racial inferiors they term “Muggles”, but extremely oppressive of most other magical beings, usually justifying it by “they’re inherently evil” or “house elves are happy as slaves.” I’ve just never managed to see the Harry Potter universe the same way since I realized the magical world was a veneer covering the fantasy equivalent of Apartheid-era South Africa.
The other big issue though, is the same issue many take with a lot of the urban fantasy boom Harry Potter had a hand in sparking: how can a magical world capable of the wonders described both manage to be baffled by light switches and so incapable of action the only thing that saved it multiple times from Voldemort was a bunch of bored teenagers. It’s an inherent issue in speculative fiction, with Harry Potter being a famous example, that magic and time-travel can undo the suspension of disbelief in even an otherwise immaculately crafted narrative. Why is the society that created the time-tuner wasting such power by using it for helping a child do homework?
To the latter question, French cartoonist Boulet, whose past works tackling the butterfly effect or grimdark I’m quite a fan of, applies himself with equal fervor of asking what it would be like if the wizarding world of Harry Potter would apply itself to say, space travel, with the same intensity as it does creating chocolate frogs. The comic is called A Kind of Magic, and the resulting view we get it pretty hilarious.
In A Kind of Magic, Boulet self-inserts himself as a newly minted Hufflepuff student who dares to ask why wizards are devoting themselves to creating floating light fixtures when they could be doing so much more to benefit humanity, or even act out of rational self-interest. The non-magical people of the world would hardly burn witches at the stake in the modern era, much less ones capable of giving the world limitless green energy, free and instantaneous healthcare and capable of preventing natural disasters. If they do, so what? With a few handy spells, wizards can thumb their noses from a purely magical-inhabited Mars.
While some might wonder where the joy in dissecting the world of Harry Potter as A Kind of Magic does could come from, but much as it is with the X-Men Paradox – that being why does the same world that adores the Avengers or Spider-Man hate the X-Men – it’s all in good fun. Half of the fun in reading speculative fiction after all comes from further speculation, and A Kind of Magic does plenty of that, and manages to be a fun comic in its own right, so go take a look.
I do think the idea of Harry and pals cutting the ribbon on Hogwart’s newly christened Martian campus makes a cooler ending than seeing the kids off at the train station though.