In Review: Coven #4

Story, action, and art that's worth more than the cover price.

The covers: An appropriate four covers to find for this fourth issue. The first cover, the A, is by Sabine Rich. It has a sweet image of Avril front and center looking at the reader seductively, when he or she should be looking at her left hand which is beginning to power up with energy. To her right is Baba Yaga, who’s looking to her right as if scanning for foes. To the left is a gigantic image of Liza who looks really cheesed off about something. All three characters are attractive looking, but Liza looks a little younger than she’s been shown in the series. The colors on this are really well done, with Avril being a particular stand out. The B cover is by Douglas Sirois. This has the reader’s point of view down low, looking up at a fierce Baba Yaga, with her staff radiating energy. A nicely done figure, but I wish it had been a little more centered; I’d rather have more of the figure than her hair. Jamie Tyndall and Ivan Nunes do the C cover which has a very stylized image of Liza, who’s in a black corset and white stalkings (almost looking Steampunkish) against a backdrop of blue swirls on a yellow setting. Nice, but, again, I want the figure to be more centered. The final cover, the D, comes from Tina Valentino and Victor Bartlett. Now this is what I’m looking for! Baba Yaga is now in the front, with Avril right behind her. The older witch is firing some energy out of her staff, while the younger witch is casting a blue spell. Very, very nice! Avril looks her age and the coloring is very bright, making this look very dynamic. Overall grades: A A, B B, C B-, and D A 

The story: This penultimate installment from writer Zach Calig, from a story by Joe Brusha, Ralph Tedesco, and Calig, opens right in the thick of things with two parallel stories. Liza is performing an immortality spell on the Wizard that will keep him going for another 400 years, while the other two witches are confronting the Knight, who has a blade at Avril’s throat. The spell a success, the Wizard commands the Knight to release Avril, and he runs off. Meanwhile, Dartanian and Baba Yaga are trying to enter the New Crusaders’ headquarters so he can convince his brothers in arms that they’ve been mislead by the Wizard. The find a way in and that’s when things start to go bad for them. There’s a lot of action in this issue with Calig having the characters race to their fates. There are a lot of people taken out on Page 8, and it shouldn’t come as a surprise, given who’s doing the killing and that person’s motivation. The pace increases when another foe arrives on the scene, but that’s when Baba Yaga decides she could get a little more involved. As this is going on, the pair of witches that have Avril are readying her for the sacrifice. I really like stories that split off from each other with a lot of action and then get drawn together in a big climax, and that’s what Calig seems to be doing. Two villains bite the dust — or do they? — while the toughest will duke it out with the protagonists in the final issue. One of the highlights of this story was what occurs on Page 17. I’ve seen this done before in other novels, and on a former HBO show, but it never loses its appeal, and Calig knows exactly how to work it. Overall grade: A  

The art: A lot of magic and a lot action allow Diego Galindo to do some super scenes. The opening spell with the Wizard and Liza is quick but powerful, as is the confrontation with the witches who want Avril from the Knight. I really like the setting work that Galindo does on these three pages, contrasting the ancient with the futuristic. They’re little things, to be sure, but they make the visual experience all the more real. The entrance to the New Crusaders’ headquarters has the same effect; it starts very rural and then goes futuristic in two panels. The interior of the headquarters is nicely done, and when the action kicks in on 8 it’s very, very cool! The scenes in the hallway have Galindo showing that he can create a nice sense of movement in all this characters, with them tripping, running, and firing on one another. My favorite visual was the first panel on Page 11. I’m a sucker for this type of setting and it screams Indiana Jones for me, and I loved it. Galindo also gets to do a few panels of the Wizard’s body reforming after the spell has been cast. These are, rightfully, graphic panels that put the horror into this horrific character. The final page begins the climax, ending as a cliffhanger for this issue, with the mother of all spells at work. It’s a good balance of beautiful and creepy. Galindo can do no wrong on this. Overall grade: A

The colors: The outstanding colors by Michael Bartolo and Hedwin Zaldivar really make Galindo’s art magical. I want every spell cast in this book to glow, and they make them so; I want every explosion to hit me with bright colors, and they do; and I want the futuristic settings to be shiny metallic grey, and they are. Bartolo and Zaldivar are pushing all the right buttons for me. The third panel on the first page shows that metal is going to look fantastically shiny. The greens on 8 are wonderfully sick. The explosions on 14 and 15 are perfection. The final page has some really good luminescent blues for the spell. I love this pair of colorists. Overall grade: A 

The letters: Narration, dialogue, an intercom transmission, a computer voice, yells, and sounds are spun by Charles Pritchett. I really like his large, but not huge, font for his dialogue, the spectacular sounds, and the perfect computer voice. Pritchett continues to show that Zenescope has the best letterers in the business because they’re allowed to create different fonts for different characters’ speech and they revel in sounds. Overall grade: A 

The final line: I’m already weeping that there’s only one more issue in this series. I enjoy this story, the visuals, and this creative team too much to have them end this run. Story, action, and art that’s worth more than the cover price. Highly enjoyable. 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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