In Review: Jim Butcher’s The Dresden Files: Down Town #4

The story is rote, but the art is excellent.

The cover: Harry Dresden is following faithful pooch Mouse through the underground corridors of Chicago, followed closely by apprentice Molly Carpenter. None of the characters look happy to be going through the tunnels, with Molly looking the most worried. Artist Stjepan Sejic’s Harry is looking a little too GQ and too young in this image for me. I do like the coloring with the work on Mouse’s hair good, though what’s the deal with Molly’s right hand? Overall grade: A-

The story: Jim Butcher & Mark Powers open this issue with the showdown that was introduced last issue: the heroic trio are face-to-face with “Gentleman” Johnny Marcone, his two cronies, and about ten heavily armed and armored soldiers. “Step away from the doorway, Mister Dresden…This affair is under my jurisdiction. The last thing you want is to violate the Unseelie Accords…or embarrass your superiors on the White Council.” Molly and Harry exchange an understood glance and she makes it seem as though they’ve disappeared, while Harry creates a shield. He orders the pair into the tunnel while he blows out the ceiling, barring their path. Unfortunately Marcone dived in with them. “It would seem we are trapped here together.” They call a truce to find the master of the golem and start into Undertown. The purpose of their quest is to find the madman, and they do — that’s no spoiler, but first they have to encounter at least one danger in the environment, and they do. It’s an expected threat, and, faster than you can say “The Light of Earnedil”, they easily escape it. Meanwhile, the shopkeeper being held prisoner makes a bid to return home, but is recaptured. The issue ends with the heroes and villain meeting, with their battle being next month. Nothing of seeming importance happens in this installment outside of Marcone joining. This might have been more interesting in novel format, but as a comic this seemed like filler. Overall grade: C

The art: The visuals on this book by Carlos Gomez continue to impress. The opening page is a great three panel breakdown of the opposing forces: the villains, the heroes (I love how Molly’s looking at Harry and how Mouse is ready to fight), and then both groups staring each other down. This is the perfect way to introduce who’s fighting on what side. I didn’t need any text in that first panel on Page 2, as Gomez’s visual communicates to me that the wizards have a plan. Gomez does action very well, with Marcone’s dash on 3 good and the punch on 20 excellent. Magic is used quite a bit in this issue and each time it’s employed it’s appropriately powerful, especially when Harry casts “Fuego!” The golem’s design remains one of my favorites of this series and its presence is a wonderfully threatening image. The settings by Gomez are remarkably detailed; Undertown is spectacularly decrepit and each corridor resplendent with stonework. Overall grade: A+

The color: Mohan is coloring this book perfectly. The underground settings should understandably be dark, but Mohan wisely uses blues and grays for the dark tunnels. Spells employ sharp, bright colors, such as white, yellow, and orange, when they’re cast. Molly’s hair continues to impress, as do the bright sounds which explode in the dark settings. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Dialogue, narration, sounds, yells, scene settings, signage, screams, and a quiet comment are all crafted by Bill Tortolini. My favorites are the HELLLP on 17 and the AAARRRGGH on 19. They have just enough of a wild flair to evoke a distraught wail. Overall grade: A+

The final line: The story is rote, but the art is excellent. I’m sure next issue will be much more unified. Overall grade: B+

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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