In Review: Coven #2

The pacing of this book is fast and the visuals great. This is an entertaining read in every possible way.

The covers: Four frontpieces to covet this month. The A is by Daniel Leister and Sean Ellery. This has Baba Yaga and the prophesied one, Avril Williams, back to back, with them ready to take out all foes. B.Y. is smiling as she stares down her opponents with only her staff in her hand, while the youngster has blue energy swirling from both hands. Behind the pair is a flaming pentagram. If this doesn’t scream “Magic!”, I don’t know what does. Tony Brescini and Ivan Nunes do a really strong B cover that spotlights one of the New Crusaders walking away from a flaming backdrop that features the image of a woman on fire. This soldier’s brand of justice is more than evident in this image. This is a good choice of subject matter done excellently. The C cover is the one to acquire. It’s by Jamie Tyndall and Ula Mos and it’s a superb drawing of an attractive Baba Yaga standing on a white background with all her powers swirling about her. It’s the pin-up cover for this issue and the image I chose to include with this review. This should be a print. The final cover, the D, is by Abhishek Malsuni and Shashank Mishra showing the two female leads again back to back, though now they’re shown circled by the New Crusaders. They’re in a rural setting with a mountain behind that holds up a tremendous castle. Nicely done with lots of good details. Overall grades: A B+, B A-, C A+, and D B+ 

The story: Liza and Baba Yaga have been knocked out by the most evil looking member of the New Crusaders. He calls the Grand Wizard for orders who says, “I need Liza alive. But the other is dead weight.” The killer pulls his pistol and places it to Baba’s head but stops upon sensing something. A gigantic elk runs out of the foliage and knocks him aside. Another animal appears and hits him just as hard, but this time the man uses his gun and shoots the elk in the head. He then turns the gun to the first animal and kills it. On his knees, tired from the battle, he says to no one, “Is that the best you got?” He again moves to Yaga, his pistol up, but now grass turns into prickly vines that writhe about this hands and body trying to entangle him. Pulling his knife just in time, he frees himself and runs off, reporting to his superior, “I’ve been ambushed. I need reinforcements.” The two women are still unconscious, so the question becomes “Who has saved them?” Zach Calig answers this question in his story, which was conceived by Joe Brusha, Ralph Tedesco, and himself, and it’s a very satisfying solution. I was very interested to learn more about the trio shown on Page 5 and I really liked their conversation as they went about their tasks. Avril returns to the story on Page 7 with an exceptionally cool reveal occurring on 8; her reaction mirrored my own. A familiar character returns on 9 and I was very pleased by what is said and thought. 12 has one of the women waking and things take a good confrontational turn. I enjoyed the new character that was assisting the ladies and am looking forward to more from this person. The last three pages moved much more quickly than I’d expected and the final panel has an excellent “Huh?” moment. Overall grade: A

The art: I am really enjoying the visuals of Diego Galindo. On the first page he lays out everything an artist should do in a book’s beginning: clearly establish the hero, the villain, the impending threat, and the setting. I love his look for the killer Crusader: he’s got psychopath written all over him, with witches’ fingers around his neck as a necklace as some did with combatants’ digits in Vietnam.  I like the way he does action, such as with the elks attacking the Crusader on the second and third page, with the fourth panel on Page 3 being shockingly brutal. The characters introduced on 5 and 6 look great, with their demeanor at the top of the latter being perfect, given their situation. Avril is the real standout character of the issue; from her first appearance on 7, all the emotions she goes through, to the defiant stand on 11, she looks fantastic. Galindo has obviously got a strong handle on how to get her to act in this book and it’s superb. The character that she speaks with is also strong, though the story only requires two moods from him, simmer and rage. The flashback pages are nicely done, and has me hoping that a prequel is done at some point to this series and Galindo is involved. The last three pages have a good infiltration sequence and promises more magic to be released. Overall grade: A

The colors: Michael Bartolo does some really good work on this book. The first panel of this issue shows that he can expertly shade these one dimensional drawings with colors to make them look three dimensional. When the action goes heavy for the killer, the backgrounds become bright with yellows and oranges to flame the moments to a higher intensity. I really like the walls of the locations where Avril is being held: the splotches on them are very realistic, with the blue-greens used for the reveal on 8 being great. The lighting effects that he brings to this book, such as at the location where Baba wakes up, would make J.J. Abrams jealous with the lens flares. The spell casting page is also outstanding. This is, simply, outstanding work. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Dialogue, radio transmissions, sounds, yells, scene settings, a Crusader’s narration are brought to life by Charles Pritchett. His sounds steal the show when they appear to highlight the loud weapons employed. Overall grade: A

The final line: The pacing of this book is fast and the visuals great. This is an entertaining read in every possible way. Overall grade: A 

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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