Wally Ut was created by Matt Wagner
for his series Mage: The Hero Defined
Character Description and History
Wally comes across as a confused, bumbling old man. He is short, fat, boastful, and rarely effective. He wears a magic purple hat that he is constantly losing, and dresses like a hobo. His hat constantly changes shape. One moment it might be a top hat, another an old pilot's helmet, another a dunce's cap. Unlike Mirth
, Kevin Matchstick
's first mage, Wally does not seem all there mentally, and is not very persuasive in his claims to be Kevin's second mage.
Kevin Matchstick, Joe Phat
, and Kirby Hero
first come across Wally Ut while looking for a den of harpies. It turns out that Wally is their man-slave. Even though he is very powerful (a fact which is not truly revealed until the end of the story), he is always weak when it comes to the enchantments (magical and sexual) of women. The heroes destroy the harpies and free Wally. He immediately says he is the second mage, but the heroes don't believe him. They think that he's just been eavesdropping on their conversation. To prove his claim, he says he is going to make their Edsel float, but instead only manages to close the door. The heroes are unimpressed and drive off. As they do, Wally realizes his hat is missing, and says that's why his magic didn't work.
Wally catches up to them in a diner and accosts them again, saying that their path is to the north (where they do eventually go after advice from Isis
). The heroes try to ignore him, but he continues to talk on and on. A bird comes down and seems to talk into his ear, and Walls says that it told him that Kirby's sister, Athena, is not coming to meet him because he "cheated" on his last challenge. Although this does seem to imply that he has some knowledge of their more personal secrets, they brush him off and drive away.
One thing that soon becomes clear (although the heroes do not know this) is that whenever Wally is with the heroes, Emil
, the current main figure among the forces of darkness, is unable to find them. He keeps them hidden from Emil's magical scrying as long as he is with them.
Wally continues to follow them on his bicycle, and eventually gets to Isis' house after the heroes have already left. Isis sees him and tries to ward him off with a hex, and he rides on. This is the beginning of a contentious relationship with Isis, and it shows that Kevin is not the only one who doesn't see Wally's true identity. Indeed, it is even more surprising that Isis doesn't recognize him, since she is a witch and one would think she would be in better touch with magical figures.
Wally finally catches up to them in Montreal. The heroes do seem impressed with his willingness to chase so far after them, but still don't accept his identity. He now calls Kevin "Foxfire," a name that is never really explained but seems to have something to do with Kevin's new identity in this story arc. (Foxfire is, among other things, a glow-in-the-dark fungus.) His continual, barely comprehensible ranting doesn't help, but Joe does notice that his hat keeps changing--there must be something magical about him. He complains, rightfully, that Kevin is not as much on-task as he could be, and is letting himself get distracted. Then he mentions the Fisher King, which gets Kevin's attention. He relents to having lunch with him. It is clear that at least one reason Kevin doesn't accept Wally as his mage is that Kevin has his own ideas about what a mage is like, and can't accept that they might not be accurate. Once again Wally tries to prove his might through a display of magic, but a cloud of wisp-wraiths attack, and he jumps into a trash can and hides. Even though he doesn't show off his might, the heroes do give in and accept him into their apartment, since he clearly is somebody unusual, even if he is not the mage.
Isis and her sisters Ishtar and Magda
arrive, and try to use their magic to find out what the Pale Incanter (Emil) is doing. Wally is annoyed, and says their magic isn't the real thing. Further, he warns Kevin about falling for Magda. Isis has said that Kevin and Madga are destined to fall for each other, and Kevin has always been apprehensive about it, but Wally goes further, expounding on the dangers of being ensorcelled by a woman, as he knows from his own personal experience. Kevin does eventually fall for her, and it is never clear whether his love for her is natural, or due to a magic spell. Wally is right about almost everything else, so he may be right about this too. Wally confronts Isis again about her magic, saying it is not up to the challenge of seeing the upcoming confrontation between light and dark. He continues to tell Kevin that he is letting his ego get in the way of his quest. It should be noted that while this is true, Wally simply proclaims it at the top of his lungs in an unhinged way. He is not truly persuasive, and it is not surprising that Kevin ignores him. Later, much is made about Kevin's lack of willingness to believe Wally, but at least at this point, it would be hard for anyone to think that Wally's rantings are something worth listening to.
Later, Joe is ensnared by a Leanhaun Sidhe
, or succubus, who builds a lair in his room. After Joe and Kevin leave, Wally senses her presence and banishes her--the first real hint that he has any serious power. Mirth, for instance, could not stand up to one for fear of her seductive magic. Wally seems to determine that he is going to have to act as more of an independent agent if he is going to help, and goes off to tell Kirby that Kevin and Joe need his help.
At some point, however, he is caught napping by some Redcaps
and brought into their underground lair, where they prepare to sacrifice him. The heroes (who have saved Joe) just happen to come along, and save Wally. Wally tires to take over and lead them to Emil, but Kevin doesn't want to follow. Not caring, Wally jumps off a cliff into a river and turns his hat into a parachute. Seeing this, Joe and Kirby pretty much start to believe that Wally is who he says he is, but Kevin just gets more stubborn. He thinks he knows some tricks, but not real magic, especially since Wally's magic is not green. According to Mirth, true magic is green, like nature. However, Joe insists that magic is blue, like the sea and sky, and for Kirby it is a ferocious red. Wally pipes in and says for him, it is purple, the color of passion. All of this just makes Kevin more frustrated. All his certainties are being challenged. He was trying to take charge and be the leader, but how can he do that when he's constantly being pestered by an idiot and being told by his closest friends that everything he knows is wrong?
As they continue, Wally sees a water-wight, which is a sign of an upcoming death. Kevin ignores this, and becomes increasingly angry, rather than just dismissive, of Wally. They finally come to an arena, where Emil has placed the Man-Mountain of Dzoxk
. The other heroes battle the Man-Mountain, and Wally quietly goes up to confront Emil, who (unlike everyone else) recognizes who he truly is at once. Meanwhile, in the battle down below, everything Wally warned about comes true: Kevin's ego ends up getting the better of him, and he makes some dumb moves in the fight, which end up getting Kirby killed. Kevin manages to resurrect him with the Bat
, but it's too much for the Bat and it explodes.
Wally imprisons Emil in a giant purple bubble and comes down to Kevin. Wally suddenly seems much more lucid and confronts Kevin with his disbelief. Amidst his crumbling self-worth and Wally's impressive feat, Kevin finally accepts that Wally is who he says he is. But, he also immediately confronts him with the blame for Kirby's death--if he's so powerful, why didn't he prevent it? But Kevin realizes that it was really his own fault. Meanwhile, Wally is floating around in magic purple bubbles, just like Mirth used to do with green bubbles. He wakes up Kirby with a massive popped bubble. Angry that he didn't defeat the Man-Mountain on his own, Kirby and Joe leave. Wally and Kevin now get in deep about their relationship. Wally says Kevin is proud, with the mastery to back it up. Kevin feels the same about Wally. Wally says that Kevin has been too busy trying to defeat evil, without creating and protecting good: he has ignored the Fisher King
, just as the Umbra Sprite
did in The Hero Discovered
. It should be pointed out that if Wally had been this verbally lucid earlier, he might have done a much better job in persuading Kevin that he was the mage.
Frustrated that Kevin still doesn't really respect him, Wally transforms himself into Mirth. Kevin is overjoyed at the return of his old friend. Wally/Mirth explains that the world mage exists backwards in time, and that Wally is a younger teen-aged version of Mirth. As a teen-ager, Wally is more slave to his libido, which is what got him in trouble with the harpies in the first place. Mirth further explains that as Wally, he lives in a near constant state of precognition, so that he continually sees past, present and future as one big jumble. This (and his adolescence) is the cause of Wally's apparent confusion. He also explains that his hat once belonged to his great love, the Lady of the Lake, Edsel
. He uses it to help focus his mind. Mirth also tells Kevin that he is not only the avatar of King Arthur, but also of Gilgamesh, and using the Sumerian's legend, tells him how Gilgamesh once met Ut-Naphishtim, an underworld soothsayer, for aid. Wally is the same Ut.
Wally transforms back into himself. He explains that magic doesn't have a color, that it is color itself, and that he should ignore Mirth. Somewhat denigrating Mirth's lessons, he says that the first mage was only to inspire, and the second mage's job is to instruct, and his lessons have only begun. For instance, he can get over the destruction of the Bat, which was only a tool: Kevin has the power in himself, and if he wants a power object, he could choose one with more finesse.
However, Wally's lessons are interrupted, since Emil has managed to escape his prison through the aid one of his possessed sons. Wally flies up to fight him again, but this time Emil knocks him back. Before Kevin or Wally can do anything, the Umbra Sprite suddenly rears up and, angry at Emil's past attempt on his life, banishes Emil. The Umbra Sprite's presence weakens Wally severely. The Umbra Sprite's body then breaks down into a rushing black oil that floods the chambers. Kevin and Wally jump on the Man-Mountain's shield and use it as a boat, but Wally falls out and seemingly drowns, beseeching Kevin to remember the Fisher King. This is the last that he is seen. It should be noted that while Wally's job was supposed to be Kevin's instructor, he didn't really have much time to do that.
Powers and Abilities
Wally is an incarnation of the World Mage, and as such he is the strongest magic user in this reality. Since he exists in a constant state of clairvoyance, other magic users cannot see him. This benefit also extends to Kevin as long as they are in close proximity to each other. This is the opposite of Mirth, whose potent magic stood out like a beacon to his adversaries.
Wally claims to be more powerful than Mirth, although his magic is rarely on display enough to back this up. He was able to speak with birds and read augurs. He was able to float and fly. He banished a Leanhaun Sidhe. He was able to entrap Emil, a powerful spell-caster. One can assume that he could have done more or less anything that Mirth could, although his constant precognition kept him from being cognizant enough to truly focus on his magic.
He does have some weaknesses, especially when it comes to women; for instance the harpies were able to keep him as their slave, just as Mirth was afraid of the Leanhaun Sidhe. He was also caught by a group of Redcaps and seemed to be at their mercy. However, he later said that both circumstances were intentional, and were merely a means for him to catch up with the heroes.