In Review: Crimson Lotus #5

I can't get enough and I need more! Highest possible recommendation!

The cover: Before a dark illustration of a temple, Shengli zips down before it, her scarf showing her path. Both of her fists are powered up with magical energy to do battle with the title character one last time. I love the image of the figure, but the background is so dark as to be unrecognizable on my print copy. This is a rare misfire from the normally flawless Tonci Zonjic. Overall grade: B

The story: Taking a step back from the cliffhanger last issue, writer John Arcudi opens this issue outside the temple, focusing on three guards. Two share some small talk before the man between them tells them to quiet down. “You two are distracting me. We have orders, and I suggest you follow my example and get serious.” A gunshot and the explosion from the center of this forehead shows he won’t have to worry about being serious again. Two large dirigibles are flying overhead with several soldiers parachuting out of them. One of the soldiers bolts into the temple to warn the others inside, but he runs into a green barrier. It’s a giant green hand forbidding his entrance. “None will enter this temple. You will not carry out your duties. Useless to your comrades, and your country.” More is said to him and something surprising occurs. Within the temple it’s also chaos: the blood that came out of the large sarcophagus-like object is solidifying into giant supernatural creatures with horns, claws, and fangs. In addition, monkeys wearing Noh masks are clawing at the humans. Dai is firing his gun, while Shengli uses her magical abilities. Just as it seems that the tables are turning, the Crimson Lotus appears. This looks to be end of the heroes and their fight until someone appears on Page 12 and everyone is blasted to their feet. If one has read any other Mignola books, this character will be instantly recognizable and realize that things have taken an even darker, surprising turn. The dialogue on 12 – 14 is incredible and the action on 14 stopped my heart. Then something epic occurs on 15 which triggers a cataclysmic event on 16 and 17. The story could have ended on 18 and I would have been completely satisfied, but it goes three more pages for an absolutely perfect ending. This is brilliant! Someone get Arcudi to write a sequel now! Overall grade: A+

The art: Sign me up for as a member of the Mindy Lee Fan Club! The book’s beginning is perfect as it zooms into the two soldiers talking before the one in the middle interrupts them. Notice how Lee has changed the point of view for the last two panels, foreshadowing what area is about to become incredibly important. The next page begins with the poor soldier being shot before going into a double-paged spread of the dirigibles. There are three panels on the far right, Page 3, that show the one man’s journey to get into the temple. The impact the ends the page will have question marks going off in every reader’s head. It’s only with a turn of the page that the oversized supernatural hand is revealed. The soldier’s reactions to what’s occurring are great as are the actions at the bottom of the page (which I’ll not spoil). These four pages were only a warm up that Lee creates next. The first panel on 5 has a staggering amount of characters hellbent on destroying one another. I love the close-up of Shengli at the bottom and Dai’s reaction to what she says. The smile that ends Page 6 is dynamite! The actions that top 7 are fantastic and the Crimson Lotus’s arrival at the bottom ominous, especially with what are circling about her. The losses that are accumulated on 10 are epic, and the creature on 11 fantastic. However, the arrival on 12 is a staggering moment. This character is perfect and what this individual looks like as a conversation with the Lotus commences is spectacular. The reveal at the top of 14 and the action at the bottom solidify this character as a unholy terror. Pages 16 and 17 have a spectacular visual climax, but look up at the top of 17 for very cool reveal! It was impossible not to think of Thomas Harris’s classic literary, and cinematic, character on the final four pages. I loved the smile on 21 and the final page is like money in the bank! There’s got to be a sequel to this with Lee illustrating again. Overall grade: A+

The colors: Michelle Madsen starts this issue with the expected colors associated with soldiers outside a temple. When something traumatic happens on Page 2 the background goes a shocking orange, which is followed by bright stripes of crimson on a panel that stretches from 2 to 3. The final panel on Page 3 foreshadows what’s to come on the next page with some slick subtle green work. The greens on 4 are wonderfully unearthly. The reds that begin on 5 add immensely to the blasphemous look of the creatures forming from blood. It’s not often that blue is used as a negative color, but it most definitely is on 7. I love how the interiors of the individuals with the Lotus are white, making them delightfully ghastly. The rainbow attack on 9 is cool. Notice how the sounds on 12 are an eerie green, teasing what the reader is about to bear witness to. The reds and oranges on 14 16 and 17 are tremendous. The final four pages start with normal everyday colors and become twisted by a new color on the last two pages. Someone get Madsen back for a sequel! Overall grade: A+

The letters: Dialogue, sounds, yells, screams, magical incantations, and two editorial notes are created by ace letterer Clem Robins. The yells and screams are in larger, thicker font than the dialogue so that any reader will know the volume of these cries are loud. The magical incantations by the Crimson Lotus continue to be one of the most intriguing fonts devised for a character and I fully admit to pulling the book closer to my face to see if I can discern what she’s saying. The sounds are killer in this issue, with CLICK, BLAM, KR-RAK, BOOM, and CREAK awesome. Overall grade: A+

The final line: This can not end here! This needs to be another miniseries — Heck, a monthly series! I want everyone involved with this book back for more. The story is epic, the action stellar, and the characters fantastic. The visuals capture the gallantry and the dangers of spies and magic in China. I can’t get enough and I need more. Dark Horse, please, make this happen! 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.
    One Comment
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