In Review: Dance of the Dead #3

Mystere's magical adventures make her a character to watch.

The covers: Four very different frontpieces for this issue. The A cover is by Julius Abrera and Ivan Nunes and has Mystere wielding two knives, looking ready to take on any foe. However, the monstrosity of a winged demon that’s emerging from a wall of flame behind looks a little too large for the blades to do any good. Excellent illustration with fantastic coloring — I love how the hero stands out so strongly against all the reds and oranges of the demon. The B cover has some neat action captured by Anthony Spay and Sanju Nivangune. A good thirty ice daggers are making speeding toward Jasmine who uses her flaming sword to create a barrier to melt those before her. What’s not shown is if she can stop the others. Great art and great colors. It’s impressive to see how Nivangune makes the daggers look translucent. The C by Andrea Meloni and Jorge Cortes create the “good girl” cover for this issue with the Snow Queen turning around to face the reader. She’s standing in an inhospitable environment, composed primarily of spikes of ice that she looks to be creating. She’s extremely pretty, the setting good, and the colors strong. The final cover is the D by Meguro which is the Page of Cups Tarot card. The Snow Queen looks beautiful and regal as she stares at the reader. She’s holding a glass cup in her hand and a breeze is blowing her dress. She’s before a lovely wilderness background. This is one worth finding. Overall grades: A A, B A-, C B-, and D A

The story: Things start with Mary Medina, aka Mystere, right in the thick of things as she’s confronted in a cave by the Snow Queen. Grabbing a shard of ice that’s a baseball bat sized stalagmite, she swings at the villain, only to watch the bat dissipate with a move of a hand from the antagonist. “Didn’t think that one through, ” Mystere says to herself. She’s then punched backwards. As the villain comes in for the kill, the hero takes to the air. “Didn’t know I could fly, did ya?” Mary grabs the Snow Queen from behind and pulls her up. The Queen creates an ice dagger from the cold air, but before she can use it Bakur cracks open the ice shell that the villain constructed, freeing Jasmine. Mary leaves the Snow Queen to rush to her friend, allowing the villain to create a heavy mist for her escape. The story then goes briefly into the past to show the continued plight of a man who wishes to be free of something. Conceived by Joe Brusha and written by Anne Toole there’s quite a bit of action and movement in this issue. With Mystere again fighting the Snow Queen, Bakur suggests Jasmine do something that creates a larger problem. The battle with this individual ends surprisingly, leaving the power level of one character in question, while the location of this new problem left hanging. When the trio gets outside the cave they come upon some more individuals that wish to do them harm and how Jasmine gets them out of this fight on Page 20 is fantastic. The final page returns to the flashback with the final four word being scream worthy. Plenty of action and some sweet reveals in this issue! Overall grade: A-

The art: A pair of artists are on this issue with Fritz Casas doing Pages 1 – 16 & 22, while Marcio Abreu does 17 – 21.The opening page of the book instantly reminds the reader where the previous issue left off, but it also serves as a solid introduction for new readers. The icy cave is really well done and the magic that’s used within it also well done, with the antagonist’s opening move on the page strong. A lot of motion is created by Casas with Mystere’s hair, which shows the reader in what direction the heroine is moving or being thrown. When Mary goes to raise the villain, Casas does a really strong job showing the effort required to lift her, with the protagonist really showing it’s taking all she’s got. The flashback sequences are extremely epic looking, with the settings resembling a classic Hollywood spectacular and I love the circular panel used on Page 5, which gives the layout a classic comic book feel. The super close-up of Mary in the third panel on 6 is gorgeous: creepy and beautiful. The three panels that follow it expertly show the leads, moving between them smoothly. The small creature that appears on 8 is wonderful and a good tease of something that appears later. My favorite panel of the book is the final one on 10: that is exactly how a flying hero should be drawn. The new character that appears on 12 looks good, and enough of her is hidden from the reader to keep her entirely being seen, leaving her to return at a later point to reveal her magnificence fully. Abreu’s work begins during a flashback and is seamless in appearance from what Casas began earlier. The setting atop 18 is flawless. The character work on his pages does look different from Casas, but not to the point that it influenced my enjoyment of the book. In fact, I’d be more than willing to see Abreu illustrate an entire book on his own. Two artists create one wonderful looking book. Overall grade: A-

The colors: As with the art, there are two colorists: Hedwin Zaldivar does Pages 1 – 11 and Ceci de la Cruz on 12 – 22. And as with the artists, their work is strong. Zaldivar and Cruz’s flashback scenes are handsomely colored in rusts and white, with certain sounds being bold. By coloring these pages in these colors the pages become instantly aged, providing a smooth transition of location for the reader. Zaldivar’s bigger scenes involve the icy cave and it’s gorgeous. Every shade of blue is used to create a frosty environment. Mary’s inner voice has its dialogue done in an intense red to mirror the voice’s character and to stand out strongly from the cold. Cruz takes over on 12 and she continues the frozen setting but gets to segue into some impressive fire. The change of colors on 14 is dramatic and matches the character’s reaction at the top of the page. Once outside, Jasmine’s violet top draws the eye against the sandy locale. Both colorists are creating gold. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Kurt Hathaway is responsible for this issue’s dialogue, yells, sounds, the new character’s dialogue, and the tease for next issue. The dialogue is easy to read and never overwhelms any of the visuals in the panel. The sounds of the book are perfect, with RRMMBLL and KSSHHH! my favorites. Overall grade: A

The final line: Mystere’s magical adventures make her a character to watch. The flashbacks are delicious reveals of deviltry and deceit in the distant past that could carry an entire series on their own. They complete the story in the present well, creating a smooth read. The visuals go from modern day heroics to epic classic skulduggery. More, please! 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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