The Other was created by writer and artist Peter Gross, based partly on ideas written by John Ney Rieber, in The Books of Magic 51, in 1998.
Major Story Arcs
The Other was originally one of the beings that lived in one of the many universes created by Tim Hunter. Hunter, as a child, would create a new universe when he went through an emotional experience that he couldn’t handle; the new universe was conceptually related to whatever experience he went through. Some of these universes were near-perfect, others were very similar to reality, but had small changes in Tim’s life. Apparently, all sorcerers known as Openers do this.
The Other was a malicious version of Tim Hunter in one of these worlds. He was angry at the real Tim Hunter, and wanted to kill him and absorb all his magic. As part of the process of doing this, he went through all the other worlds that Tim created, destroying them one by one and absorbing all their magic in turn. He also collects some of the twisted versions of the beings in those worlds, keeping them in a small box, but allowing them out if they can help him. For instance, he had a sad clown version of his dad, seemingly as a jester, and Captain Wobbly to help find things. He has various objectified versions of Leah as well.
He tended to do this with style, causticness, and cruelty. For instance, in one world where Tim didn’t learn magic, but where his mother was still alive, the Other taunted that world’s Tim after killing his parents with a knife, and then killed him.
The Other visits and destroys more than a thousands Tims and the worlds they live in, absorbing their power. These include a Tim who froze time and can't unfreeze it, a Tim who has focused on his fairy heritage, a Tim that is in a Teen Titans-esque superhero team, and a Tim with a happily positive relationship with Molly. He goes mad with the constant death and lack of consistency.
The Other eventually comes to the universe where Thomas Currie lives, riding at the head of an army of controlled creatures. It is an almost perfect universe, and the Tim that lives there is very hard for the Other to defeat, but he does. However, that Tim sends Thomas away first. Thomas Currie then embarks on a quest to find the real Tim and prepare him for battle with the Other—or to destroy Tim, thus keeping the Other from winning. He tries to stop the Other, but cannot.
Eventually, both Currie and the Other find their way to the real world. Neither is sure that it really is the true world. The Other goes to Molly’s house and harasses her, but she, her brothers, and Tim’s other creations like Awn the Blink manage to fight him off, especially with the help of Happy the Golem. Thinking the annoying Other was the real Tim, Molly resolves never to speak with Tim again.
Tim’s dad, stepmother, and stepbrother see the Other walking along the road and are so shocked they get in a car accident. Holly dies, Cyril is hurt, and Bill is badly injured. The Other listens to Holly’s story before she dies, but isn’t really interested and walks away.
At some point, the Other sets loose a storm of magic that breaks down the barriers between the various supernatural realms, leading to beings wandering around all over where they are not meant to belong.
The Other keeps looking for Tim, using his creation In the No as a guide, but Tim has been hiding from them with the help of Currie. Eventually the Other finds their hideout, but Tim has already siphoned off his magic, and created a false Tim to take his place. The Other kills Currie and the false Tim and absorbs his small amount of magic, and thinks he has killed the real Tim. He now believes he is the official Opener.
He starts trying to figure out what he wants to do. The Lords of the Compact—a bunch of mythological figures from Zeus to Barbatos to Auberon—come pay to ask him to destroy the Wild Hunt for them. He wants their obeisance and is entertained by the idea of the Hunt, and sends them away. Barbatos, on meeting him, gets the idea of stealing Tim’s soul, which begins the journey that leads toward his control of Sir Timothy Hunter.
Eventually Tim disguises himself as Molly and sneaks onto the grounds of the Other’s mansion. He confronts the Other and gives the Other his magic. However, it’s too much for him. Tim then uses the magic through the Other to fix the gates between worlds. Then, in conjunction with Barbatos, Tim gives up his memory of the creation of his Other, enabling him to be defeated. Tim finally remembers all the things he originally couldn’t emotionally handle, as all the pieces of him that were split off into other universes come back into his soul.
Definition of an Other
The concept of an Other was seeded through writer John Ney Rieber’s run on The Books of Magic. It usually seemed to imply the idea of one’s romantic partner. For instance, the Keeper of the Tides seems to imply that meeting one’s Other is a good thing and discusses it within the context of sexual and romantic partners, and the gargoyles like Jack Hammer seem to imply directly that Molly is Tim’s Other.
However, in Peter Gross’s writing of the volume, the Other is revealed to mean something quite different. Here, an Other is a being made by an Opener, and thus a tiny split-off part of the Opener’s soul. This Other comes to signify the Opener’s opposite and a thing the Opener must overcome. By overcoming one’s Other, and reabsorbing all the split-off parts of their soul, an Opener becomes whole and finally knows their entire self.
Powers and Abilities
The Other was a vastly powerful magician, capable of destroying a nearly infinite number of pocket universes, and the Tim Hunters who lived there. He was not as powerful as the real Tim Hunter, however, and when he temporarily absorbed the real Tim’s magic, he found it overwhelming.
He keeps a retinue of different worlds’ creatures, such as Captain Wobbly and his clown-father, to aid him in various minor jobs and to make him feel superior.