In Review: Toil and Trouble #6

A smart story and beautiful art make this a must-own book for anyone who loves Shakespeare, drama, or sorcery.

The cover: King Macbeth stands before an unearthly blue fire, unaware the three witches, Cait, Riata, and Smertae, are also with him. The look on his face is one of focused fury, while the weird sisters seem indifferent to him and his fate. This is a great final cover to this series from Kyla Vanderklugt. The layout is great, with the focus on the mad king, and the colors are exceptional, especially on that emerald sky. Geeze, I want all of the covers from this series to be prints! Overall grade: A+

The story: The witches’ battle has come to an end, Smertae has stabbed Riata in fury because her meddling has Macbeth killing King Duncan. She says to her wounded sister, “To kill someone in their sleep is vile. And as Macbeth has murdered sleep, so he will sleep no more. That is my curse, my justice.” Cait goes to her victorious sister, saying that since she is the victor, she may take Riata’s life and lead them, but Smertae says there is no more “us.” She is done with her sisters; Cait can try to save Riata if she wants, but she wants no more of either one of them. She has a king she must now advise. With Duncan’s death, Malcolm and Donalbain run from the castle, Macbeth is elected King, but there is no peace: Lady Macbeth wishes she could have another child, though cannot, while Macbeth’s mind remains twisted from the sisters’ influence. Those familiar with The Tragedy of Macbeth know how things will end for the king, though what Mairghread Scott has planned for the witches is the focus of this book, and series. Will Riata survive? Will the witches battle again? Will Smertae try to influence Macbeth for the better? All of these questions are answered and the witches’ ways resolved, but not before one character gets some needed peace before the inevitable occurs. Scott has written gold. Overall grade: A+

The art: The illustrations and the colors are by Kelly & Nichole Matthews. Like Scott, they close this book out in sensational style. The first page is a study of four different characters’ eyes: anger, surprise, death, and madness. Page 2 has Smertae dominate and resolved. The look of decision on her face is beautiful and frightening, only because the reader knows exactly what her efforts will ultimately yield. Page 3 shows the icon reveal of Duncan’s death and its fallout from the play, while 4 shows the unseen crowning, though heavy is Smertae’s heart. Lady Macbeth turned out to be quite the scene stealer in this issue, getting two major scenes that are not a part of the play, and the Matthews sisters make her unbelievably sympathetic; the fear on Smertae’s face on Page 6 is terrific! The anger on another character’s face on 9 is equally strong, as is the dissipation of that rage at the bottom of the page. The flashback sequence is beautiful, but is outdone by the emotion it elicits on Page 15. 18 returns the trio to their classic imagery and lines, with the final page being wonderful. That said, the most haunting Page is 19 for what occurs to one human: it’s beautiful, emotional, and tear inducing. The colors of this book are also incredible. The blues on Smertae dominate every panel she’s in, the blues in the flashback are great, and the final three pages are absolutely magical for the sorcery involved. Every page is visual magic. Overall grade: A+  

The letters: Dialogue, narration, yells, scene setting, and the closing of the act are done by Warren Montgomery. His style is spot on for this book, with a crisp and clear font for dialogue and slightly formal style for the narration. His work is as picture perfect as the story and art. Overall grade: A+

The final line: A smart story and beautiful art make this a must-own book for anyone who loves Shakespeare, drama, or sorcery. “So, thanks to all at once and to each one” who helped create this series. 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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