In Review: Modern Testament: Anthology of the Ethereal Vol. 2

An enjoyable alternative to super hero exploits.

The cover: The three leads of the trio of stories from this issue strike a pose atop a building. The two characters on the left look good, while the one on the right has a face that’s difficult to make out. The city background is nicely done, as is the pair of the buildings the individuals are standing on. The coloring makes the monster on the right tough to make out. The outcropping of the building under this creature looks stained, as if the monster left its mark on it. The left looks good, the right not so much. This frontpiece was created by Jonathan Rector. Overall grade: B-

The story: Three short stories comprise this issue’s contents, all written by Frank Martin. The first story is the twelve pager “Schoolyard Monster.” This is about a boy named Joseph who’s been sent to the principal’s office, while two police officers wait outside. The principal is trying to get the young high school student to tell him the truth about how a boy was murdered. There’s a flashback to Joseph getting teased by some boys at school, with one in particular causing him some embarrassment and grief. Something happens to Joseph on Page 4 that turns into a supernatural occurrence on 5. Joseph sees this character, knows what it is, but doesn’t stop it on its quest for revenge. This was an okay story that followed this classic creature’s pattern of violence. The second story is “The Great Hunt.”  This nine page tale of terror is about two hunters out to kill a monster that’s killed previous “Monster hunters. Thrill seekers. Cryptozoo-whatevers,” the warden tells them. “They all thought they could conquer somethin’ that wasn’t meant to be conquered.” This is a straightforward monster tale. Unlike the first tale that tells the reader what the creature is, this one does not, or it’s so subtle it was lost on me. The ending does have a neat EC Comics-esque ending that made me smile. The final tale is the best of the three, “What is He Good For? (Absolutely Nothing).” This tale is an excellent tale of a war veteran meeting War, one of the Horsemen of the Apocalypse aboard his cruise ship. The two share a discussion about the nature of war and what modern man does with it. The supernatural being still has plans to use the man, albeit in a very unexpected way. There’s a nice twist in the tale that pits one normal man against a supernatural being. This played out like a classic Twilight Zone episode. Overall grades: “Schoolyard Monster” C+, “The Great Hunt” C, “What is He Good For? (Absolutely Nothing)” A+

The art: Adrian Crasmaru is responsible for the art on “Schoolyard Monster.” The panel layout of actions is good, but the characters have some odd moments: the final panel on Page 2 looks as though Joseph’s arm has elongated like that of Plastic Man and the reaction in the third panel on 3 is awkward and the character’s face doesn’t suit the text. Better is 5’s use of motion to show the birth of the creature and the slight movement of its head on 8. It’s a very mixed bag. Much better are the illustrations on “The Great Hunt” by Igor Chakal. The first two pages of this tale show an impressive range of weapons which are key to the story and its conclusion. The fourth page of this story neatly shows the passage of time and the creature reveal on the fifth is excellent. What the monster does with the final hunter had an awkward climax. The final story is decently illustrated by Noreus Teves, who focuses primarily on the two characters having a conversation on a cruise liner. The fourth page of this story is a full page splash that’s very well done, showing how war has existed throughout human history. When the story leaves the ship and goes to other locations the art doesn’t look as well; it’s serviceable, but nothing outstanding. Overall grades: “Schoolyard” C-, “Great” B+, and “What” B

The colors: Crasmaru is the colorist of his own work on the first story. At times it’s fine, such as Pages 1 and 5, but more times than not it’s very distractive, taking focus from the illustrations; for example, the thrid panel on 3 and the green backgrounds on 4. A more traditional form of coloring might have helped things. “The Great Hunt” is colored by Stanislau Leonou and this looks good. The opening pages in the daylight create an instant African setting, transitioning to a supernatural violet, and ultimately a pitch black environment with the fall of the sun. The coloring on the creature is impressive. The colors on the final tale, by Laura Ruggeri, are very traditional. Nothing spectacular, but all looking fine. Overall grades: “Schoolyard” D+, “Great” A, and “What” B

The letters: One letterer for the entire book and that’s Kell Nuttall. The inside front cover which contains the book’s credits are difficult to read, especially in telling the difference between the letters u and v. The first story has a very faint font for dialogue, though the sounds and yells fair much better. The final two stories have dialogue that looks stronger, with the yells and sounds remaining strong. Overall grade: B

The pin-up: There’s a pin-up by Brett Uren that shows all three of this issue’s monsters catching some sun on a beach. It’s a funny idea for an illustration, though the characters look lumpy and the backgrounds very remedial. The bright coloring saves much of this piece. Overall grade: C+

The final line: This is not a preachy Biblical comic and it can be read without having any Biblical knowledge and enjoyed. The stories are okay, with the final one being outstanding, though the visuals on all could use a little more refining. An enjoyable alternative to the super hero exploits. Overall grade: B-

To order a print copy of this book go to http://www.insanecomics.com/the-insane-comics–store.html#!/Comic-Books-PRINT/c/16562396/offset=0&sort=nameAsc

To order a digital copy of this book go to http://www.insanecomics.com/the-insane-comics–store.html#!/Comic-Books-DIGITAL/c/11913260/offset=0&sort=nameAsc

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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