In Review: Red Skull #3

The ending seems forced, but all else is good in this final issue.

The cover: This is a pretty disturbing image from Riley Rossmo that shows Magneto has gone and drunk the Kool-Aid. Against a crimson background with just a few drops of rain beginning to fall, Magneto grimly paints a red skull onto his face. The color matches the background and is completely opposite of the white togs he’s been wearing for the previous two issues. This is both creepy (because it looks like he’s going into Apocalypse Now finale-mode) and sad (because he looks as though he’s lost his mind). An excellent way to get the title character on the cover without having him actually appear. Overall grade: A+

The story: Having regained his full powers, Magneto charges the Shield with a company of Annihilus’ minions. The first two pages is a two-thirds double-page spread showing the mutant flying forward with skies full of insect-like creatures following. Close behind him is the Red Skull, who goads on the horde by saying, “Yes! Follow Magneto! With the annihilation wave we can finally tear down the wall of our oppressors! First this cursed shield and then Doom and all his precious kingdoms will fall!” Atop the shield several soldiers wonder what to do. Do they call the Thors? Might be too late. However there is something they can do, and when these characters appear on Page 4 all bets are off for the Skull and Magneto having an easy entry into the rest of Battleworld. A major action scene follows next in Joshua Williamson’s story. It went in several unexpected directions and I really enjoyed it. I really like what happened to Magneto on Page 10. I loved what the Skull had done and how the Master of Magnetism and the Nazi madman fared off against one another. It’s an epic match, with one sweetly outmaneuvering the other. Pages 16 and 17 are the best things I’ve seen in any of Marvel’s Battleworld books. That said, I really did not like what occurred on the last three pages. It didn’t seem believable. Yes, I’m aware that this is a book with mutants, zombies, and flying bug creatures, but even with all of that, the ending of this issue was terrible. It came out of left field and seemed like a tacked on ending just to close this series out. That’s right, this is the last issue. It seemed like this was going somewhere and then it just wrapped up in the final three pages. It undermined everything from the previous 57 pages and left a bad taste in my mouth. Fantastic until the ending. Overall grade: C+

The art: The raw look of the art perfectly fit with the action and violence of this story. Luca Pizzari does a bang up job on the illustrations. The horde accompanying the Red Skull and Magneto on the opening two pages is spectacular. I really like the close-ups of the Skull as he’s yelling at the troops, spurring them on to fight. I’m also a sucker for circular panels in comics; it harkens back to classic comic illustrations (with my default going to Carl Barks’ duck books), so when I see it in any comic it gives me an instantaneous warm and fuzzy feeling. The reveal of the characters on Page 4 is great, seeing each in different poses, showing that all activated at different times. The shock on Magneto’s face on Page 6 was like a lightning bolt. If anything could beat the emotion on his face it would be how it looks starting on page 10. Wow. That’s all can be said of that new look. Page 13 has two outstanding images of the Red Skull: one where he’s using his foot and the other another sensational close-up. Everything about Pizzari’s art is working on this issue until, like the story, the final three pages. I find it hard to believe that this is his work because it’s rendered so sloppily. Compared to everything that’s gone before it, this doesn’t even look like his work. The character revealed on the final page is too generic in the face. This lack in quality leads me to believe that Pizzari was given little time to close out this series. Overall grade: B-

The colors: The palette that Rainier Beredo has chosen to go along with this book is limited but undeniably effective. Black, white, red, grey, and violet are the colors of this book. This creates a stark environment for the characters and makes every action seem dramatic, as if everyone was fighting for their life in this wasteland. The insect warriors of Annihilus have the violets, making them seem even more otherworldly than those around them. Magneto is resplendent in white, making his cause seem almost noble. By using this lack of color for his costume it makes his later change much more dramatic and ominous. The Skull is a vision in red. Decked out in ebony, whenever his bloody visage appears it is startling. Oranges are often employed for explosions, and there are several in this issue. Everything that Beredo has done for this book is magnificent. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Scene setting, yells, dialogue, sounds, a specific group’s dialogue (starting on 4), whispered dialogue, zombie moans, zombie speech come courtesy of VC’s Clayton Cowles. The sounds on this book are terrific; they’d have to be good considering all the destruction that takes place. Yelling also looks good under his watch, with Magneto’s scream awesome. However, I was most taken by the zombie speech, with the undead getting their own unique font for some quick words at the story’s end. Overall grade: A+

The final line: The ending seems forced, but all else is good in this final issue. I hope this team gets the opportunity to reunite and do another tale featuring the Red Skull. 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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