In Review: Toil and Trouble #3

A sensational secret tale brought to light in a superb way.

The cover: Lady Macbeth stares at the readers as she is whispered to by the witch Riata. Black wings are in the tapestry behind them, but the Lady is too preoccupied to notice them, let alone that Riata’s clothes are writhing about on the floor. A terrific image of Lady Macbeth falling under the witch’s spell, which looks to have been the spark which caused her to wish her husband ascend the ladder of royalty. This is a good symbolic cover by Kyla Vanderklugt, showing the evil that is being created. I do wish the colors had been a little brighter, as this is very dully colored, making this difficult to find on the stands with other books. Overall grade: B+

The story: The hidden scenes of Act I, Scenes 4 and 5 occur in this installment of Toil and Trouble by Mairghead Scott. The issue begins with a hitherto untold scene at Inverness, home of Macbeth, as a servant finds Lady Macbeth bleeding in bed. This scene establishes the Lady’s pain at losing a child and how she holds her husband responsible because of his devotion to King Duncan. The story then moves into another untold tale, this time of witch Smertae destorying the Norwegian fleet, keeping Scotland safe from invaders, and possibly — hopefully — moving Macbeth closer to the throne. The story then goes to the scene where Duncan thanks Macbeth and Banquo and confirms who will become king after his passing. Witnessing this event invisibly are Cait and Riata. The older tells the younger that no witchcraft, no spell, is necessary to have Macbeth doom himself, since he believes he should be king. Though she does go to another to ensure Macbeth does not succeed Duncan. Pages 12 and 13 are another showing of witches interfering in the path of mortals, adding to the witch’s backstory and another character’s untold past. The highpoint of the story, as is in the play, is Lady Macbeth who has her big monologue after reading the letter from her husband. The servant that brings her this letter is revealed to be another character from this tale and her desire for power is placed within her. This continues to be a fantastic read that combines elements from the classic Shakespearean play with never told side stories, focusing on the witches’ intervening with the cast. Magically addictive. Overall grade: A+ 

The art: Kelly and Nicole Matthews also make this book magical. The introduction of Lady Macbeth has her laying in shadow upon her bed, foreshadowing the deathly state that another will soon have in her own home. The pattern on her blanket and sheets is beautiful and when the sun is let into the room reveals itself to be beautiful in red. That red provides a great transition with rose petals into the woman’s bath. There’s a nice bit of coloring work also done at the bottom of Page 2 to show some of the water still on her skin. Pages 3 – 5 have a fantastic sequence of Smertae sinking the ships, starting with a spectacular cloud formation that show her strength. The form that this witch assumes while underwater is terrific, with her coloring being fantastic, as the water creates a ripples of color onto her. The flashback sequence on 12 and 13 is really neat, since it’s done in a very minimal style; since it’s a memory aspects of it shouldn’t be complete, so this is not as detailed as the rest of the book, but still looks extraordinary. The splash on 14 is fantastic. It sums up one character’s beliefs in a visually strong way and does so in a very arresting composition. The colors on this book look incredible. When the supernatural comes into play, which it often does, the colors are electric, done in dynamic colors that explode off the page, emulating the power of the interfering trio. However, the coloring on characters’ clothing is also exceptional, with the tones used on Lady Macbeth’s clothes shaded as if they are on an actual character being lit by natural light. This is a sumptuous visual book in every possible way. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Scene settings, dialogue, and narration (the same font), sounds, flashback dialogue, Macbeth’s letter to his wife, and next issue’s tease take stage thanks to Warren Montgomery. I’m a curmudgeon when it comes to dialogue and narration being in different fonts, rather than the shape of their balloons setting them apart, but what Montgomery does with everything else looks sharp, so I’m willing to give some ground. Overall grade: A 

The final line: The secret supernatural interfering of three witches shows that they did much more than the Bard ever told. A sensational secret tale brought to light in a superb way. A “Must Read” for fans of Shakespeare, the supernatural, or good storytelling. Recommended. 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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