In Review: Insexts #4

Dark fantasy has never been better. Highest possible recommendation.

The cover: Lalita Bertram’s green eyes radiate against a backdrop seemingly composed of inconsequential broken glass and metallic crosses and circles. Upon closer examination, and if one were to turn the cover upside down, one would see that the glass composes an image of a hostile creature, holding the crosses as weapons. Is this to be Lalita’s fate should she continue to evolve, or does the creature represent the London Butcher barely spied in an earlier issue? Excellent image by Ariela Kristantina with colors by Bryan Valenza. Another beautifully sinister cover. Overall grade: A

The story: Lalita leaves her son in the care of Mariah so that she and Dr. William Taylor may see the man who has been caught and confessed to her husband’s murder. She warns Mariah to watch the boy closely since she does not trust her “vicious asp of a sister-in-law slithering around our house.” She and William set off in a carriage to go to Hampden Prison. Along the way William states he knows that she killed her husband. He knows how ghastly the man treated her and does not blame her for killing him. In fact, he states, “Let me protect you, as much as I can. Let us remain friends…we can go into Hell together.” Once at the prison, the pair with two nurses and guard to accompany them to, visit the killer, only to come upon a ghastly sight: several dead bodies strewn about the prison, blood everywhere, used to create demonic patterns, and one of the survivors bellowing, “We screamed and no one came – WE SCREAMED AND NO ONE CAME!” The blood causes an involuntary reaction in Lalita that exposes her new nature to the others, so William must decide what to do. Marguerite Bennett takes her tale in a very interesting direction, furthering the bond between lovers Lalita and Mariah, bringing Taylor into their confidence, and introducing another supernatural element into the book, the London Butcher. What the creature says and how it is defeated is interesting and where it takes this tale is completely surprising. This world is quickly expanding, and our heroines may be only tiny players in it. Overall grade: A+

The art: Without question, Ariela Kristantina is the perfect artist to illustrate this book. She is able to capture the time period perfectly, which she does outstandingly on Pages 1 – 4, showing the upper level estate the heroines live in, the functions that William and Lalita attend, and the prison. A reader is instantly swept into the era by her art. Kristantina is not just a period artist, her characters are also outstanding, capturing the depth of the leads and creating characters that would rival Dickens’, even if they only appear on one page, such as the nurses on 3. The sadness on William has become very evident on his face, having learned that his presumptions about Lalita have missed one key detail. The sexuality of the women is also well drawn; it’s not done to be exploitive, but to show what their level of intimacy and comfort is. This issue also shows that Kristantina can create other supernatural characters, as the London Butcher fully appears. His appearance is radically different from the women, yet his human form is equally beautifully. There is another supernatural character that appears on the final page and I’m on fire to see what Kristantina does with her next month. This is a book that captures the time, the characters, and the monsters superbly. Overall grade: A+

The colors: The colors on this book, by Bryan Valenza, accentuate every aspect of the art. Look at the lighting effects he brings to the first page, illuminating the green night. He places a fantastic tint on the one panel flashback on Page 2 to show readers that this moment is from the past. The blood on Page 4 is disturbing to look upon, but should such an event occur it would undoubtedly be this bright. Valenza is an expert at using color to create depth in a character’s skin, as shown throughout the book, and most obviously on 9 – 11. I loved his choice of colors for the Butcher’s pelt, which is uncharacteristic for this traditional creature, but it fits marvelously well into this book. The final page sensationally shows Valenza’s skills at showing off the city at night. Beautiful and disturbing work. Well done, sir! Overall grade: A+

The letters: A Larger World creates the lettering for this book which consists of scene settings, dialogue, yells, screams, sounds, moans, and the Butcher’s unique font. The work this group does is exceedingly pleasant to look upon and fitting for this title. I love the font used for scene settings, with the lower case letters instantly setting this story in an older time, and the font for the Butcher’s dialogue is delightfully dark. Overall grade: A+

The final line: Dark fantasy has never been better. 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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