In Review: Coven #5

This series is one of the best that Zenescope has produced. Highest possible recommendation.

The covers: Four different covers for you to collect for this final issue. Douglas Sirois provides the A cover which features villianess Liza giving a sly smile as she makes her way to the reader, who had better be wary of her fists which are emitting blue energy. This cover is okay, because the figure looks much better than the background. I do like the white and blue highlights on Liza, which make her power seem strong. The B is by Tony Brescini and Ivan Nunes which is an action cover with Liza zapping Avril in a forest. The younger witch is trying to defend herself, as rose colored energy is coming out of her, but it seems to be having no effect on Liza’s abilities. Nicely done. The C cover was the one for me, and the image I chose to accompany for this review. It’s by Sabine Rich and it shows Avril powering up and ready to strike. I like the character, the background, and the coloring, which sells this image. Outstanding! The D cover is also an extremely well done frontpiece by Tina Valentino and Ula Mos. This is also an action cover, but I like this one better because it’s a much more dramatic illustration. Liza is leaping up with a scream and energy is building in her hands, while below her is Baba Yaga, who’s raised her staff which is radiating its own energy. Both figures look excellent and I really like the colors. Overall grades: A B-, B B-, C A, and D A

The story: Baba Yaga and Dartanian have arrived at the Arcania Covenant, Underwater Station. They pick up rifles which can neutralize and reignite a witch’s abilities, and then they destroy the armory. Once done, they make their way to save Avril, who is trying to be consumed by Liza, though it’s proving problematic. With their leader gone, Avril tries to convince the other two witches to see that Liza’s methods aren’t good for those like them. Her pleas fall on deaf ears and Liza returns with a spellbook that packs quite a wallop. The interplay between Dartanian and Baba Yaga by writer Zach Calig is really good, as is the story which was hatched by Calig, Joe Brusha, and Ralph Tedesco. I was a little disappointed when the plot interrupted their back and forth. They’ve both committed wrongs, but Baba Yaga cannot see she’s been just as bad as him. There’s a lot of action in this concluding chapter, with Liza and Baba Yaga clashing, Dartanian trying to rescue his love, and Liza having to make the decision to be a witch. I really liked Pages 12 and 18; it’s one of the oldest tropes in the book, but it’s pulled off excellently and couldn’t have come at a better time for the characters involved. The real shocker came on Page 17 — Uh, that’s not supposed to happen, right? I couldn’t believe that Calig went there, and big thumbs up for him doing this with a key character absent from the moment. I was impressed. That said, I was even more impressed with the final two pages: it was dangled before the readers earlier and to use it here was great. Smart characters come from smart writers. Thank you, Mr. Calig. Overall grade: A+

The art: I have become a fervent fan of Diego Galindo because of this series. He draws it, I’ll buy it, so I will be unequivocally biased in what I write about his contributions to this book. Galindo does a superb job on mixing fantasy and technology, which is exactly what’s required of this book. His settings for the New Crusaders look great. They only comprise the first two pages of this book, but he’s knows exactly what is needed to visually tell the readers what this group is capable of. The first panel is a quick link of a mini-sub docking. The design of the vehicle is good and the structure is so vast only part of it can be shown. The armory is excellent as is the corridor where the “others” are discovered. This series has been my introduction to Baba Yaga and she is amazing in every panel, with her first panel on Page 2 making her look absolutely ferocious, and all she’s doing is standing there. Dartanian is also awesome looking. He’s got the classic hero looks, but is capable of some visual humor with just a look, as he does at the bottom of Page 6. Avril also looks good, with readers able to feel her pain while being consumed or becoming something more, as on the penultimate page — and that final image of her — Wow! Perfection. The action is heavy in this issue as witches go full throttle, and Dartanian brings in a specialized gun to add some modern day tech to the battle. This book looks really great. Overall grade: A+ 

The colors: A pair of colorists to congratulate on this book, Michael Bartolo and Hedwin Zaldivar. It’s impossible to tell where one begins and the other ends, the book looks as if it were done by one individual. Frosty pale blue is used to show the technology and settings of the New Crusaders, with some excellent coloring done at the bottom of Page 1 to highlight those obscured by doors. Magic in this book really pops out, with pale violets emanating from Baba Yaga, and blues out of Liza and Avril. Having the caverns in a different shade of blue is a smart way to have the reader believe it’s dark, but allowing him or her to also clearly see the action occurring within them. This background color also allows Baba Yaga to stand out with her red costume. Page 10 is my favorite of the issue because of all the different colors used, with the dark violet at the top of the fourth panel being a slick way to highlight what Avril is involved with. Overall grade: A+ 

The letters: Scene settings, an electronic acknowledgment, dialogue, yells, screams, and sounds are what Charles Pritchett brings to this book. His font for the dialogue is perfect and the variety of sizes and styles he uses for characters’ yells and screams are outstanding. Overall grade: A+ 

The final line: A super conclusion to a super series. I’m sorry to say that Zenescope can’t possible leave this story where it’s at, because I want more. I would love to see this creative team reassembled for more adventures. This series is one of the best that Zenescope has produced. Highest possible recommendation. 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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