In Review: Dance of the Dead #5

A fun read, though there's a lot of chasing that doesn't really go anywhere.

The covers: Four different covers to find for this penultimate issue. The A is by Ediano Silva and Sanju Nivangune and features Mystere in a surprising position: she looks to be sending three evil spirits at the reader. She’s standing on some rocks with her hands upraised as if commanding these demonic looking ghosts to raise some hell. Two of the ghosts have horns, while the other is bald. This is an easy way to tell them apart and creates some variety with these poltergeists. They look frightening and seeing Mary lead them has me wanting to see what they’re going to do. The B cover by Netho Diaz and Hedwin Zaldivar is the image I chose to accompany this review because it’s really colorful. Jasmine is using her flaming sword to battle a water elemental, while an ultra-pale jinn watches. I love the illustration and the coloring is fantastic, with the flames leaping off the page and the various blues and whites in the elemental sensational. I love this cover. Next up is Derlis Santacruz and Ula Mos’s contribution, the C cover. This has Mystere posed before a mountain and some trees. Something about her face looks off, though her body looks fine. The background is obviously a photo manipulation, having me wonder if this piece wasn’t rushed. The final cover, the D by Meguro, is another Tarot cover, this time the Queen of Cups. Who this character is I’m not entirely sure, but based on the Egyptian setting it could be Hatshepsut who makes an appearance in the last half of this issue. She looks great, with that tilted head making her look extremely sly. Overall grades: A B+, B A+, C C, and D A

The story: Three monstrous elemental creatures are confronting Mystere, Jasmine, and Bakur. The women decide the best thing to do is to shut the door that contains the three entities, but one of the villains creates a sandstorm, sucking Jasmine toward certain doom. Mary asks frightened Bakur for help and he does so, allowing her to join Jasmine, though she’s flying under her own ability. She plucks her friend from the sky, saving her. Jasmine repays Mystere by using her ability to blast a creature behind her and another that was making a move on Bakur. The three split up to evade death, with Jasmine striking out on her own into a maze followed by one villain, while Mystere and Bakur are pursued by the other two monsters. Joe Brusha created this story, with Anne Toole writing it. The issue becomes a chase up until Page 12 where it returns to telling how Bakur was involved with the series big bad. A flashback within the flashback reveals how Gruel met another villain and how he partnered with her. This is a fun read, but did slow the action happening to the heroes in the present. The book ends as it began, with the three elementals cornering the heroes. However, a change is introduced with one character revealing that some abilities have been held in reserve. This was an okay read, but came across as a Scooby-Doo chase, through various rooms, meeting with allies, losing allies, and different monsters after them. The flashback sequences held more meat than the chasing. Overall grade: B-

The art: Marcio Abreu is the book’s artist and he does a solid job on the human characters. On the first page the characters’ personalities are captured well with their emotions and actions. For example, in the second panel the heroic trio gets a close-up and Bakur is frightened, while Jasmine and Mystere confidently look at one another with a solution to their dilemma. I like the look of resistance on both women’s faces in the third panel as they struggle to achieve something. When Jasmine gets caught up in the wind, she looks great. Mystere, on the other hand, has a terrific heroic pose at the bottom of Page 2 as she takes off to rescue her friend. In fact, whenever she flies about she looks excellent, such as in the large panel on 4. I like that the opportunity is given to Abreu to show Bakur has got some guts which he demonstrates on 5 and 6. The elements that are after the threesome are fairly generic. They look like big monsters that would be in any Saturday morning cartoon. However, what happens to one of the creatures on 6 is flippin’ fantastic! The settings are fairly generic as the three are pursued, such as the huge panel that’s on 8: why this was chosen to be practically a full-paged splash isn’t justified by the story. It does establish where the characters are, but there’s a lot of wasted space in the illustration. The flashbacks in this issue begin on 12 and they look great: all of the characters look outstanding. I also like the point of view that Abreu uses, such as in the large panel on 12 and the first panel on 13. The reveal on 14 is good, but I would have liked to see a larger image of this character to establish the individual’s strength. The close-up at the bottom of 18 is stellar. The reveal that ends the book is good: not a large panel, but enough to tease the finale of this series. Overall grade: B

The colors: Two different colorists on this issue, but the reader will never be able to tell where one begins and one ends, though it, thankfully, states in the credits who is responsible for what: Hedwin Zaldivar (Pages 1-4, 8-11, & 17-22) and Maxflan Araujo (Pages 5-7 & 12-16). For so much action in several different environments, the coloring is bright, bold, and superb. I love bright, showy colors in comic books and this book definitely has them, but never to the point where they go over the top. Highlights include the sickly greens around Mystere when she flies, the oranges on Jasmine’s flaming sword, the emerald backgrounds of the maze, and the roses and grays for the flashbacks. The colors really made the art of this book pop. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Kurt Hathaway created this issue’s text which includes elemental speech, dialogue, yells, whispered dialogue, sounds, and the tease for next issue. Zenescope has established their books as having superior lettering, often shown through the variety of fonts for inhuman characters and in this issue the elementals have their own unique speech font separating them from the heroes visually. The sounds in this book are also great, with SPLSSHH and RMMBLL being two of my favorites. Hathaway is doing excellent work on this book. Overall grade: A

The final line: A fun read, though there’s a lot of chasing that doesn’t really go anywhere. The flashbacks are the best part of the story. This issue felt as though the scenes in the present were just padding the series. They’re fun, but not really necessary to the overall arc. The visuals, thankfully are strong, with the colors and letters outstanding. Even with these minor nicks, I’m looking forward to seeing how this ends. Overall grade: B+

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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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