In Review: Dance of the Dead #6

A fun final issue, though the climax comes across as rushed.

The covers: A quartet of covers to collect for this final dance. The A cover is by Edgar Salazar and Hedwin Zaldivar and looks terrific. Mary Medina, aka Mystere, is being pulled at by several ghosts. Normally she controls such spirits, but something has made these vapors turn on her. Mary looks outstanding, the ghosts are creepy, and the colors slick, with the ghosts having delightfully transparent wisps coming off of them. This deserves the A position. The B is crafted by Fritz Casas and Sanju Nivangune. This illustration has Jasmine ready to strike Gruel with her blade. The evil Egyptian inspired antagonist is not going to go down that easily and creates several daggers of rock which are streaking the heroine’s way. I like the layout of this, with Jasmine looking strong and her flaming sword looking really impressive. I also like the way the shards are speeding at her. The colors are also good, with that flaming sword nicely catching the eye and leading directly into the title of this series. A change of pace comes from the C frontpiece by Alfredo Reyes and Nivangune. Jasmine the Jinn is is on this cover with her wearing next to nothing, though looking all powerful as she’s engulfed in flames. The colors are incredibly striking, with those violets standing out as much as the yellows and oranges. The final cover, the D, is by Meguro and is another Tarot card that’s been appearing on several Zenescope books. The Three of Cups features the demonic woman that’s been popping up in several titles. Three golden chalices circle about her, causing her to smile at her abilities. The background is a beautiful rural setting composed of a violet stream, emerald moss covered rocks, and beautiful mountains against a stunning yellow sunset. This is beautiful. Overall grades: A A, B B+, C A, and D A

The story: Joe Brusha’s story written by Anne Toole opens with Mystere trying to save Jasmine and Bakur from some elemental antagonists by calling some creatures of her own. Bakur asks Jasmine as he hides from these foes, “How…? She can bring forth these beasts from the ether? Why withhold such power all this time?” The creatures conjured by Mystere easily defeat the elements, but then turn their attentions to the heroes, requiring them to run away from their saviors who have now gone rogue. They tear down a corridor only to find it blocked by these mystical beings. Pulling her flaming sword, Jasmine is able to take them out. The protagonists now find themselves in a maze garden maze. Mary tells her companions to hide within the greenery, but Jasmine expresses a concern that’s been growing: “Oh, Mary, you don’t look so good.” What makes this concluding chapter interesting is Mary’s going over to the Dark Side. She’s been using her abilities so often they’re beginning to corrupt her. Only Jasmine is noticing this and wants to keep Mary from using her abilities. The problem is that if Mary’s Mystere persona isn’t used then they may not survive the Shadowlands’ creatures. The concluding panels on Page 8 are believable, given what’s occurred in this issue and I like the conversation on 10 – 12. The big bad of the series finally reveals himself on Page 14. His justification for wanting to kill one of the heroes is good and the battle with that character is cool. How this villain is stopped was a solid surprise and the turn of events on 20 is good. The ending of this is too quick, with things left unresolved and obviously leading to a continuation of this confrontation in another series. The final two pages’ location is good, but I just don’t understand why the main character takes that action in the final panel. I was happy with this book until the ending, which really undercuts all that’s gone before. Overall grade: B 

The art: The visuals on this book from Marcio Abreu look fine. The fantasy foes and allies look good, with several shown on the opening seven pages. I really liked the partial double-paged spread on Pages 2 and 3 that shows Mystere’s creations taking down the trio; the action and the emotions are really strong. I do have issue with that the smaller panels at the bottom of both pages had been a little larger so that the reader could more clearly seen the change in the supposedly “good” monsters; the dialogue is informing the reader more so than the visuals, but that dialogue is hard to read. This happens several times in the issue. The reader’s point of view is changing constantly to give the book a frantic feel, which is exactly the right tone since the characters are on the run almost constantly. The overhead shot of Jasmine using her sword to take out the creatures is very neat. Mystere looks the best in this issue. Her character has the most happen to her, so it makes sense that she should look the best. When she’s possessed by her inner demon or fighting against these dark urges she’s awesome. The character has a great design and Abreu knows how to make her look good in every panel. Page 11 has got a strong Mystere moment with Jasmine as the struggle within the hero is shown. The reflection in Jasmine’s sword at the top of 12 is wonderful — what a terrific visual. I like how one of the protagonist reveals their true nature to the reader with an awesome snarl on 13. The resurrection of the villain on the next page is great, made even better because no explanation to the reader is needed because the visual conveys the information so clearly to the reader. The top panel on 16 has a character posed in classic comic book conjuring mode and I loved it. The rising on 18 is good, but would have been more dramatic if it had been a larger panel, even a full-paged splash. The bottom panel on 18 has three incredibly well drawn characters in close-up. I’m not happy with 20 because it’s a key concluding moment, but every character is so far from the reader the impact is lessened. The last two pages have a very “And they all lived…” tone to the visuals, which they should, but that final panel has a character doing an odd action. Just odd, that’s all. The climax’s visuals aren’t the greatest, but they work. Overall grade: B+ 

The colors: The colors of this book by Hedwin Zaldivar and Maxflan Araujo are beautiful. Look at the first page’s sweet greens, violets, reds, oranges, and blues. The colors amplify the magic tremendously. The double-paged splash that follows also looks cool, with the addition of Mystere’s ghostly greens making her eye catching. Characters’ flesh is also done really well throughout the book, with each character having their own unique colors. Matching Mystere’s greens for power are the oranges coming off of Jasmine’s sword when it’s used–very cool! Returning to the reflection in Jasmine’s sword, the coloring in that panel is incredible. Even the background in that panel is gorgeous. The final two pages have the normal world standing out for the bright blue, soothing sky and the calm green grass. Nicely done. My only nick to the colors is not in either individual’s work, but in not knowing who did what pages so I can personally address and thank the colorist responsible. Overall grade: A

The letters: Kurt Hathaway is the creator of this issue’s text which includes dialogue, sounds, yells, screams, and the concluding two words. The dialogue is really tiny because Hathaway has to insert so much into so many tiny panels. This is not his fault, as he’s working with what’s dealt him. This made the dialogue seem a little quiet in the larger panels because the size of the dialogue is consistent throughout, as it should be. The sounds are fun, but there’s not enough of them, especially in the end, but this can be attributed again to the small panels, which simply do not have the space for dialogue and their inclusion. I’m liking what Hathaway did, but a larger font would have made this easier for my old man eyes to read. Overall grade: B+

The final line: A fun final issue, though the climax comes across as rushed. I would recommend this for fans who’ve been following this limited series from the beginning or any fan of Zenescope books. New readers will find the art fine, though the dialogue too tiny at times. I enjoyed Mystere and Jasmine and look forward to reading more of their adventures in the future. 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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