I don't understand why you claim that @ARGV is highly magical.
The example that you gave describes what I would expect considering the fact that the entries in @ARGV are passed straight to open, and that is magical. Too magical. I fully agree with the thread that started at Two-arg open() considered dangerous.
As for the recursive behaviour, yes I think that the benefits of an optional recursive preprocessing of @ARGV outweighs the costs. Of course you couldn't rely on that if you were being paranoid, because of the security problems with trusting Perl's open. But we both knew that anyways.