Mage: The Hero Defined cover by Matt Wagner.
|Created by||Matt Wagner|
|Title(s)||Mage: The Hero Discovered
Mage: The Hero Defined
|Formats||Original material for the series has been published as a set of limited series.|
|Publication date||February 1984 - December 1986
July 1997 - October 1999
|Number of issues||15
|Main character(s)||Kevin Matchstick|
|Hero Discovered Volume 1||ISBN 1-58240-388-0|
Volume one, The Hero Discovered, was published by Comico from February 1984 to December 1986. Despite advertisements saying that a sequel was "coming soon", The Hero Defined did not appear until 1997, published by Image Comics (Comico had gone bankrupt in 1990, and it had taken some time for Wagner to regain the rights to the series). The third and final volume, The Hero Denied, is planned, but no firm publication schedule fixed.
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The Hero Discovered follows Kevin Matchstick, an alienated young man who meets a wizard called Mirth and discovers that he, among other things, possesses both a magic baseball bat and superhuman abilities. In the course of the comic, he defeats the nefarious plans of a being called the Umbra Sprite. He ultimately discovers that Mirth is Merlin, the baseball bat is Excalibur, and he is, in some ambiguous way, King Arthur. All the chapter titles are lines from Shakespeare's Hamlet.
A backup story, Devil by the Deed, appeared in issues #7–14 of The Hero Discovered. This was a Grendel story that led directly into the Grendel comic series penned by Wagner, and drawn by a series of different artists, changing as each arc of the story changed.[original research?]
The Hero Defined picks up Matchstick's adventures several years later as he fights supernatural menaces in the company of other heroes, including Kirby Hero and Joe Phat. Each hero he encounters is based on a genuine mythological character (Kirby as Hercules, Joe as Coyote). There is a new mage this time—Mirth has disappeared, and Matchstick is followed around by an old tramp called Wally Ut, who insists he is Matchstick's new mentor. In the course of the story Matchstick learns that he has misunderstood his mission, meets his future wife, and is alienated from his fellow heroes. He also discovers that he represents more than one mythical character: he is also Gilgamesh, and Kirby is also Enkidu. The chapter titles of The Hero Defined are from Macbeth, and Matchstick's wife and her siblings are heavily based on the Weird Sisters.
Mage ran as a back up feature in Comico's Grendel series issues #16–19.
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The series has been collected into a number of trade paperbacks and a hardcover limited edition.
- Mage: The Hero Discovered: Starblaze Graphics, Trade Paperback
- Mage: The Hero Discovered: Starblaze Graphics, Hardcover, Slipcased, Limited Edition of 1500
- Mage: The Hero Discovered:
- Volume 1 (464 pages, December 2004, ISBN 1-58240-388-0)