In Review: Rasputin: The Voice of the Dragon #3

Action and supernatural scares combine with realistic and magical visuals to create an otherworldly tale.

The covers: A pair to find for this issue. The Regular cover is by Mike Huddleston and features a gigantic Rasputin with glowing orange eyes looking down upon Trevor Bruttenholm and his contact doing battle against pasty white men who have mechanical implants and wires coming out of them. Additionally these ghastly men have swastikas painted onto their chests. Bruttenholm uses a rifle, while his companion uses a pistol. Outstanding! The Variant cover is by Francesco Francavilla and it looks like a 1960s movie poster. Rasputin is front and center, arms outstretched, holding a sword. Behind him, in brilliant oranges is a massive head, while tentacles swirl out of the ground. Absolutely gorgeous. Overall grades: Regular A and Variant A+ 

The story: In occupied Paris of 1941, Kroenen and Kurtz tell Isla that there have been complications with their schemes. “…We successfully summoned the spirit of the dead man and bound him to a living host,” Kroenen begins. “But when it came time to extract the required information, well…” Kurtz finishes. Albert Mayhew slanders the pair and furthers this mysterious conversation, “There is no one alive who possesses the location of the tomb, so if you hope to locate it, you will first have to accede to my requests…” This infuriates Isla who is prepared to read him the riot act until Rasputin, sitting in a chair the entire time, intervenes. Rasputin agrees to an accord with Mayhew, however, “You will find that there are fates worse than death that can still befall a spirit such as yourself.” Elsewhere in France, Trevor Bruttenholm parachutes into a clearing at night. He hears a whistle and responds in kind. His local contact made me squeal at joy, as it’s a familiar character from another saga. If one doesn’t know, or remember (SHAME!), who this person is Mike Mignola and Chris Roberson quickly show where this character has been, which includes some exploits that have yet to be told in other books. This contact has a sensational personality and his dialogue is fantastic. Before any of this backstory is shown, this individual shows himself to be very adept at taking care of himself and Bruttenholm. There is a fantastic reveal at the bottom of Page 8 that shows Bruttenholm has more help than he is aware of. Where this pair of heroes goes is wonderfully creepy, with every turn of a corner or new room seeming to hold their doom. What they find is disgusting, blasphemous, and absolutely fantastic. The issue ends on a cliffhanger that will have any reader desperate to see how they get out of this fix. Brilliant. Overall grade: A 

The art: The opening three pages has artist Christopher Mitten endowing the characters with tremendous personalities. Ilsa is a fireball in this issue: she is angry, almost frenzied, as she tells the men they should be doing better. Her bugged out eyes on Page 2 has her look like a woman possessed. The lock of hair that falls in front of her face only makes her more insane. Surprisingly, Kroenen and Kurtz look like two beaten little boys — I’ve never seen them look so fearful, and Kroenen has a mask on. They look like deer caught in headlights as they admit their mistakes. Mayhew is fantastic in his indifference before Ilsa’s verbal onslaught. Even before Rasputin, who threatens him, he is as cool as ice. The title character is only in four panels and is a calm thinker, taking in all before him before making comment. His rising to face Mayhew should be terrifying, as his visage consumes the panel, but it does nothing for the man. Trevor’s entrance on 4 is great and his contact is fantastic looking: the character has something unique about him that gives him gravitas as well as making him frightening. The action scene that follows their meeting is tense, illustrated so that all the actions are easy to follow, yet still incredibly thrilling. The page of flashbacks on 12 is exciting, quickly teasing events without enough details shown to spoil future, full tellings. The heroes’ entrance into the location in Paris is fantastic, showing Bruttenholm to be much more action oriented than I had thought. The interior of their destination is enough to have readers start speaking to the comic, “Get out…Get out…” The final four pages reveal the blasphemes and they look great. I can’t wait to see more of them in upcoming issues. Mitten is knocking this out of the park. Overall grade: A

The colors: Dave Stewart begins this issue with some incredible bright, deep colors that symbolize the evil of the Nazis. To follow this first panel with Isla’s pale face is like having a ghost appear on the page. Kroenen is in black, while Kurtz is a shade darker than Haupstein. The curtains’ crimson in the panels is a constant reminder of whom these people work for. Bruttenholm’s entrance into the book is shaded just enough to have the reader realize it’s night, but not so much as to swallow Mitten’s art. The lighting effects done with colors on Pages 6- 8 are perfect. I really like the use of reds in the panels when someone dies, which increase the shock value. The flashback pages are colored like aged black and white photos to make them authentic. Stewart uses the earlier shades to darken the protagonists’ journey into the final location, as well its interiors. The green used for characters’ eyes on the final pages is sickly, making these individuals even more grotesque. This book is colored well. Overall grade: A

The letters: This book’s text includes scene settings, transmission, and language notations (the same font), dialogue, yells, sounds, a magical word, and whispers, all created by Clem Robins. I admit that when letterers use the same font in a book I’m not thrilled, but here it doesn’t bother me because the language notations occur at the bottom of the page, and there’s only one transmission, so it didn’t stick out. The yells on this book are neat, with Rasputin’s bellow on Page 2 set up in a smart, jarring fashion, and I love the waver in the tail. The sounds are especially big when gunshots occur. Overall grade: A 

The final line: Joined by a fantastic companion, Bruttenholm creeps closer to discovering the Mad Monk. Action and supernatural scares combine with realistic and magical visuals to create an otherworldly tale. Absolutely recommended. Overall grade: A 

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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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