In Review: Crimson Lotus #4

Riveting reading full of thrills, sorcery, and those damn monkeys!

The cover: Dai and Shengli are diving out the window of a high rise. They’re colored in red as is the glass from the window they’ve shattered with their exit. Before them is a fantastic view of the city they can look as they plummet to their deaths. Tonci Zonjic has created an incredibly dramatic illustration and he did it without even showing the protagonists’ faces! Simply killer. Overall grade: A+

The story: Shengli is in the lobby of the hotel to pay for the adjoining rooms she and Dai will be staying in. As she walks away the clerk says of Dai “…I suppose his guest will keep him occupied tonight.” This shocks Shengli. Upstairs in his room, Dai is being levitated off the floor so the Crimson Lotus can pull from his brain the information he carries. What she learns is “Arms. Crates and crates of rifles, bombs, brought in by the Japanese? This is your grand secret? IDIOT!” She knocks him to the ground. She tells him that he’s been wasting her time by carrying nothing but lies in his head. He reaches under a chair to pull a hidden gun, but is confronted by a monkey wearing a Noh mask that’s pointing his pistol at him. Things then really get disturbing in John Arcudi’s story with the Lotus saying there’s only one way to see what is in his head. As she begins a horrific process, Shengli arrives and things go epic. Pages 6 and 7 are spectacular. The way a character is dealt with at the top of 9 had me cheering. The exit at the bottom of the page is amazing. Seemingly away from trouble, the agents debrief, and Dai is not happy. The agents then go to a new location and the object that the government wants to secure is revealed and its history is tremendous. An arrival on 19 foreshadows troubles that rain down on 20 with things going to gruesome extremes on 22. How will the agents survive this onslaught? Next issue, the final installment, will tell! Riveting reading full of thrills, sorcery, and those damn monkeys! Overall grade: A+ 

The art: Mindy Lee continues to make this book look amazing. I love the interior of the hotel on the opening page and the close-up of Shengli’s face in the final panel instantly tells the reader that what she’s heard is not good news. When the Crimson Lotus works her powers on Dai it’s great: look at how his lean looks as though it will make him fall, but instead he merely hovers above the floor so the witch can pull the truth from him. I love how his horizontal body turns into the train moving to the left, making the reader go in that direction, leading him to the two characters. The anger of the title character on 4 is fantastic: I love that third panel! Even better is a gun toting monkey at the bottom of the page. The power of the Crimson Lotus is made obvious with how hard Dai slams into the wall and what she does to the spy at the bottom of the page is horrific. Pages 6 and 7 are stunning for their energy and size. I was completely wowed by these pages. It’s almost like watching a classic witch be banished. The chase on 8 is great, but that first panel on 9 is brilliant. I love the cockiness on Dai’s face after that panel. The exit on the page is astounding. I like how the verbal conflict between the characters is shown from opposite sides on 11 in the third and fourth panels: rather than have the characters facing each other, to show the conflict explicitly, the panels have the characters looking in opposite directions, making their opposition even stronger. I love the return to a disguise on 13 and the, once again, joyously cocky reactions by Dai on 14. The reveal on 16 is great and what lies within it on 17 is a jaw dropper. The horrific possibilities of the object are shown clearly by Lee on 18. 20’s large panel is a nightmare brought to life and then things go grisly on 21 and 22. The final image of the book is a full-paged splash and it’s a horror on so many levels. Lee has made me a fan for life. Overall grade: A+

The colors: I love how Michelle Madsen inserts crimson into the first page by making the curtains in the background that color, subtly hinting that Shengli is unaware that the Crimson Lotus is in the building, practically right behind her. I love that the spy’s face is darkened in the bottom panel to show how the information she’s just been given casts a shadow over her. The jade colors used for the Lotus’s magical abilities connotes the stone from China. The first panel on 4 has the greens highlighted well against the yellow background. The darkening of Dai’s face in the final panel increased the horror he was being subjected to. I love the luminescent yellows on 6 and 7 which give the design of the object a heightened mythical tone. The setting in the second panel on 13 is beautiful. The reds and oranges on 18 are hellish. The whites on red, with the sounds outlined in yellow, on 20 are frightening. The reds and blacks that are on the final two pages are appropriately ghastly. Truly, the colors increase the thrills and horrors of this issue. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Clem Robins is responsible for this issue’s dialogue, yells, sounds, communications, and whispered text. I am always appreciative of dialogue that’s easy to read and Robins’s work always is. The yells are heard loudly by the reader due to their enlarged and thicker font. Sounds are always a strong element by Robins, with the many CHIs still echoing in my head. The whispered text happens late in the book to show that someone is at a loss for words at what they see. Robins always brings his A game to a book. Overall grade: A+

The final line: The true mission is revealed, but does the Crimson Lotus know? Outstanding action and magic combine to create a slam-bang tale of spies and sorcerers battling over a supernatural object. I love the characters and the visuals are wonderful. If this doesn’t become a monthly series, it would be a crime. Highest possible recommendation. Overall grade: A+

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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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