Good morning everyone and welcome back to another week here in the Mirror Gallery on Hipsters of the Coast! I had originally intended to return with another Kamigawa-based article, but as sometimes happens Wizards had other plans for me when they dropped a brand new Secret Lair Superdrop last week.

This Superdrop features another edition of Magic’s Universes Beyond product line, showcases of Kamigawa’s unique art style by some of Japan’s very best artists from across traditional and digital medium, and some innovative new designs by both an artist and printing process brand new to Magic. That’s a whole lot of “new” at one time, but if there’s one thing we’ve come to expect from Secret Lair, it’s that it brings something completely different to the Magic table, and today is no different.

Today we’ll explore these new artworks and artists, this is Secret Layers of Secret Lair: February 2022 Superdrop!

Secret Lair x Street Fighter

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E. Honda, Sumo Champion by Victor Adame Minguez; Ryu, World Warrior by Jason Rainville; Ken, Burning Brawler by Yongjae Choi; Blanka, Ferocious Friend by Dave Rapoza; Chun-Li, Countless Kicks by Martina Fackova; Dhalsim, Pliable Pacifist by Victor Adame Minguez; Guile, Sonic Soldier by Wesley Burt; Zangief, the Red Cyclone by Maria Zolotukhina. All works digital.

The next installment into Magic: The Gathering’s journey to Universes Beyond comes by way of a Capcom crossover, and the fan-favorite Street Fighter property that brings some of the game’s legendary characters to their own legendary cards. As a reminder, all Universes Beyond card art must be digital due to copyright ownership, but Art Director Tom Jenkot has tapped some of Magic’s very best for this momentous showdown of an occasion. These fighters have stepped off the scroll-screen and into the card frame, and fans of both Magic and Street Fighter now have a collaboration that was never before possible.

Hadoken (Lightning Bolt) by Jason Rainville. Digital.

There is also a hidden, secret card as there is in every Secret Lair, and for Street Fighter it’s none other than a Lightning Bolt skinned as Hadoken, with art by Jason Rainville! Rainville has captured the very essence of the spell we’ve seen scream across the screen, and I’m super excited to yell HADOKEN the next time I cast a Lightning Bolt.

Li’l Walkers by Uta Natsume

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Tamiyo, the Moon Sage; Ajani, Mentor of Heroes; Angrath, the Flame-Chained; Ashiok, Dream Render; and Sorin, Grim Nemesis by Uta Natsume. Digital.

Famed chibi artist Uta Natsume joins this star-studded line-up to do what they do best, and bring chibi Planeswalkers to Magic cards for the very first time! These five Planeswalkers are out of this world adorable, from Angrath the Murder Dad to the pre-compleated Tamiyo. I expect this drop to be one of the most popular of the bunch, and while it remains to be seen what sort of relationship these five legends have with each other, but for now, we can enjoy them in all their supreme cuteness from one of the best in this style.

Introducing: Kaito Shizuki by Rorubei

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Brain Freeze, Bribery, Snap, Unmask, and Shadow of Doubt by Rorubei. Digital.

Artist Rorubei has a pair of cards within Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty alternate art variants, and runs it back with five more cards in this Showcase Secret Lair featuring the brand new Planeswalker Kaito Shuzuki. They have captured the Planeswalker within the framework of five well-loved and often-played cards of the character’s colors, and these artwork tell his story as it unfolds across the plane. We’ve only just met Kaito, but it certainly seems like he’ll be a part an important part of Magic’s story for the foreseeable future.

Special Guest: Yuko Shimizu

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Hokori, Dust Drinker; Kira, Great Glass-Spinner; Eidolon of the Great Revel ; and Elvish Spirit Guide by Yuko Shimizu. Digital.

Yuko Shimizu is an award winning Japanese artist who currently resides in New York City, and joins Magic for the very first time as a special guest artist for this Secret Lair Superdrop! Widely recognized from a variety of illustrative work for major titles to her recent nod as a 2021 Caldecott Honoree she brings an incredibly unique style, a mix of traditional Japanese artwork infused with a touch of modernism, to four Spirits that see play across the entirety of Magic. Her Elvish Spirit Guide will be the first time the card is available in foil, and I think her rendition of Hokori, Dusk Drinker might be my favorite artwork across the entirety of these drops. These four pieces of art are the perfect blend of Kamigawa aesthetic and contemporary art, and Shimizu has do doubt found her place in the Multiverse.

Shades Not Included by Ben Schnuck

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Plains, Island, Swamp, Mountain, & Forest by Ben Schnuck. Digital.

Artist Ben Schnuck is the master of the Synthwave Future, and began making fan art edits and token proxies of his favorite Magic cards during quarantine in 2020. Fast forward two years and he’s now a part of the game he loves, bringing crazy colors and his innovative design to a series of basic lands all his own. These are truly like nothing we’ve ever seen before, and fit perfectly within the Neon Dynasty experience of this Kamigawa revisitation. From Patreon to print, he’s got one incredible story, and as a sneak preview, the next time we’re in the Mirror Gallery it will be all about these five artworks, the stories behind them, and how he got where he is today!

Pictures of the Floating World

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Windbrisk Heights by TOMOHITO , Shelldock Isle by AMAYAGIDO, Howltooth Hollow by SHIE NANAHARA, Spinerock Knoll by Nagano, Mosswort Bridge by AOJI MAIKO. Digital.

This drop is named for the loose translation of Ukiyo-e, a popular style of Japanese art prevalent from the 17th to the 19th centuries, that we’ve seen contemporized in Magic ever since Ravenna Tran’s The Eldest Reborn back in Dominaria. None of these artists are new to Magic, and each first appeared during the Japanese Strixhaven Mystical Archives series last year. They’ve now returned to envision the Hideaway lands of Lorwyn for Kamigawa, and for the very first time; this is only the second artwork for all these cards save for Shelldock Isle. The result is a timeless reimagining that aligns beautifully with this new world, and I think we’ll see a lot of folks jump at the opportunity to collect these special versions.

Kamigawa: the Manga: the Cards by Riyou Kamei

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Idyllic Tutor, Swords to Plowshares, Solve the Equation, Praetor’s Grasp , and Veil of Summer by Riyou Kamei. Digital.

Riyou Kamei is the pen behind the official Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty manga comic, and pieces of that storyline have been translated over to cards of their very own for this limited edition release. We get all the major players of this tale, from Kaito and The Wandering Emperor to Tamiyo and the hand behind her ultimate demise, Jin-Gitaxias. My regular readers know I am all about a good story told through art, and it doesn’t get much more on the nose than an actual comic brought into the card frame to tell the story of a set. This is a first for Magic, and is hopefully the start of a tradition of blending comics and cards we’ll see sometime again.

Showcase: Neon Dynasty Neon Ink Foil Edition

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Ghostly Prison by AI NANAHIRA; Freed from the Real by SENNSU; Boseiju, Who Shelters All by ESUTHIO; Hall of the Bandit Lord by ZOUNOSE. Digital.

This Superdrop would not be complete without a second taste of the Neon Ink Foil treatment that was previewed early on in Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty. Each of these artworks feature a provision for the neon ink treatment that leaps off the card, and brings four classic Kamigawa cards a thousand years into the future so they’re included amongst this new set. I’m excited to finally get to have some of this neon ink in my collection, and these should prove the perfect opportunity for folks looking to do the same.

Wrapping Up

The February Superdrop is available for just three more weeks, and is your only opportunity to collect the cards, art, and artists you’ve seen featured in this article. Once again, the Art Director and team of artists have brought some serious ancillary goodness to this Secret Lair that surrounds the latest set, providing unique but complimentary additions to a brand new version of Kamigawa, and one of the most beautiful sets of the last few years.

As I mentioned earlier, next time in the Mirror Gallery we’ll be taking a closer look at Ben Schnuck’s Shades Not Included Basic Lands, and hearing from the artist about his journey from Token Maker to Magic Artist over the last few years. I’ll then finish up our time on the plane with a final deep dive into the details that really make this set sing with a little help from Walt Disney.

Remember, to see original #mtgart and other #vorthos related things, follow me on Twitter. Feel free to ask questions or retweet to continue the conversation. Thanks and see you next time!

Donny Caltrider has been playing Magic since 2002 and collecting original Magic art since 2017. He has an M.A. in Museum Studies from Johns Hopkins University and enjoys telling stories about art, objects, and the intersection of fantasy with real-life. You can find him on Twitter talking about #mtgart, museums, and other #vorthos related goodness. Follow along and continue the conversation!

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