In Review: Insexts #5

Beautiful and disturbing, this is the perfect Victorian horror story. Highest possible recommendation.

The cover: Lady Lalita Bertram is dressed for a winter outing, though she does enjoy a beverage, whose crimson fluids litter the plants around her in a perverse way. Below her is faithful servant and lover Mariah, whose hair whips about her wildly. Her hands are also covered in the blood from the Lady’s cup. Another fantastic combination of the ghastly and the gorgeous from interior artist Ariela Kristantina and interior colorist Bryan Valenza. AfterShock, please make these covers into prints! Overall grade: A+

The story: Marguerite Bennett’s story wastes no time, beginning in the thick of things as Talal is questioned for attacking Lady Bertram. He explains he is of the Order of Christopher the Cynocephalus, the dog-headed soldier-saint; this would explain his werewolf abilities in previous issues. He admits to tracking down men, “who bought and sold women, and girls, and little children…men, who served your husband. Men, who no doubt served you.” Realizing that he was attacking her erroneously, she frees him and he smells no deceit on her. Adom tells the Lady that there must be three murderers running loose in London: her, Talal, and the Hag. Lady Bertram proposes that they work together and go to the Order of Cynocephalus to find the Hag. Meanwhile at the House of Madame H, George Bertram has arrived to partake of a young girl’s “initial virtue.” The Madame of this house of ill repute is the Hag, and she has plans for unfaithful Bertram. What these plans are give this series a new spin as to who is to blame for the missing children. Lalita and Mariah meet Brother Asher, who leads the Cynos, and he gives them valuable information. Using Mariah’s abilities to seek out prey, the group is able to discover the Hag’s location, but instead find someone who has been this creature’s secret collaborator all along. Great surprises in this issue and some fantastic action, with Pages 15 – 20 stunningly awesome. I’m continually impressed with how well Bennett is able to combine such strong elements of horror, love, and surprise into each issue. Overall grade: A+

The art: This book opens in the most gothic of visuals: a half naked man is chained to a man being interrogated by two women dressed in Victorian dresses. Ariela Kristantina moves her point of view in closely to the man, Talal, and his teeth have changed to a mouth full of fangs. The next panel focuses on the beauty and the fury of Lalita speaking to the man. The final panel shows that Talal has changed to his wolfish persona, while Lalita brings a wicked looking blade before him. The is a visually exciting beginning, and with the turn of the page, Kristantina changes the situation with Talal freed. His reaction to realizing he had been hunting the wrong individual is great. The setting on Page 4 would be a budget buster in a film, both the exterior and interior of Madame H’s are lavish. When the Hag moves around George quickly, Kristantina uses wispy thin lines to show her speed and foreshadow that she is not human. The reveal and actions on Pages 6 and 7 are awesome: they’re wonderfully terrifying and graphic — it’s impossible not to linger on what she’s created on these pages. Pages 11 and 12 are beautiful, and excellently countered by the horror that appears on 13. The battle between the two combatants for the story’s end is incredible. It’s impossible to think the protagonist human in her morphed state until she changes back in the second panel on 19. The panel that spreads across 18 and 19 is wonderful, with everyone realizing that a decision must be made. Kristantina is creating the most lavish horrors comics have seen in years. Overall grade: A+

The colors: Making the horrors and romantic moments come to life are the colors by Bryan Valenza. The subtle changing of Talal in the second panel on Page 1 telegraphs to readers that the man is much more than what he seems. His colors in the final panel on the same page compliment his visual change. The interiors of Madame H’s contain all the crimson and wood colors one would expect of such an establishment. Crimson and ebony flow freely once the Hag reveals herself and she is thrilling in her green and blue outfit. Two different sex scenes are occurring on Page 12 and the colors provide a major differentiation: the top panel is realistically colored, making the romance between the two individuals a true experience, while the one below is in the cliched pinks that one associates with fantasy, making this event seem to good to be true, which it is. Greens and reds are dominant in the final action sequence and they magnify the horror immensely. Valenza is making magic with Kristantina’s arts. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Scene settings, dialogue, yells, and the sounds comprise A Larger World’s contributions to this book. Their scene settings are fantastic, instantly placing this book in a specific point in time and the sounds that appear on 18 and 19 are frightening. Overall grade: A+

The final line: Beautiful and disturbing, this is the perfect Victorian horror story. 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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