There are some comics out there that for some reason just didn’t get the kind of success they deserved. ‘Leave It To Chance’, the series by James Robinson and Paul Smith, was a huge critical success that won the Harvey and the Eisner Awards for Best New Series in its first year, and yet it only ran for thirteen issues, the last appearing in 2002, seemingly never to be seen again. And yet ‘Wolverine: Origins’ ran for fifty issues. Sometimes there ain’t no justice.
Because the thirteen issues that did run were absolutely fantastic. The series was a high-concept blend of elements from ‘Doctor Strange’, ‘Harry Potter’ and ‘His Dark Materials’, although the series itself predated at least some of these. It concerns Chance Falconer, the daughter of a famous wizard and mystic guardian, who’s eager to follow in her father’s footsteps. Her father, who has been a powerful wizard long enough to know that it’s a hard path to walk and is filled with pain and heartache to spare, forbids her from studying magic. This goes about as well as you’d expect these sorts of things to go, not because Chase is willful or disobedient but because she knows without being told that her father has made tremendous sacrifices for the sake of the world, and she’s mature enough to want to grow up to be her father’s daughter. So she makes friends with a small dragon (yes, it’s shades of Paul Smith’s X-Men run, but the man draws freaking adorable baby dragons, so fuckit) and goes about helping people in her own small way with her own modest magical talents.
The stories are well-written; the character of Chance is charming, and the supporting cast is great as well. (My favorite moment is when the dragon is batting at a computer’s screensaver like a kitten.) The series is collected in two volumes, and I really don’t want to say anything more for fear of spoilers. I will say this, though. When people read ‘Justice League: Cry for Justice’ and wondered just what the fuck happened to James Robinson, they said it because they were all thinking of series like this.