In Review: InSEXts #11

InSEXts continues to be a beautifully horrific jewel in AfterShock's crown.

The cover: Interior artist Ariela Kristantina has created an intriguing cover. Two women are taking a respite before a statue in a gallery. It is not the Venus de Milo the pair are before because the arms have recently been removed, as made evident by the blood coming out from where the appendages were taken. This was not a normal statue — this was something more. In a lovely or disturbing turn, the blood spilling from the right shoulder is coloring a collection of flowers red. Kristantina continues to make the beautiful frightening and the frightening beautiful. I am surprised to see that there is a so much empty space in the upper right of the cover, as the previous covers have been heavily detailed. I do like this cover, but it doesn’t stand equal to the previous frontpieces. Overall grade: B

The story: Within the Necropolis of Sainte Marguerite D’antioche in Paris, 1897, Lady Lalita Bertram, Mariah, and Phoebe de Azaïs have encountered a giant four armed woman, who from the waist down is a snake. She resembles Medusa for all the snakes that are her hair. Four female marble statues rush the trio, commanded by their mistress. When the ancient queen seeks to impale Phoebe on a spear, Lady Bertram intervenes, saving the woman, but placing herself at the mercy of the powerful figure. Holding the Lady’s head, the snake woman says, “Oh, thou fragile little monster. Thou art new to the world. But I am legend. Life and death, flesh and stone, are all mine to command.” She raises her spear to kill Bertram. “Do not presume to challenge me.” Mariah rushes forward to protect Phoebe, but is brushed aside by the young woman who admits that she worked for the evil Roderick, who has been revealed in previous issues to be capturing women and turning them into art, and knows that the grave robber who was killed was the man who smuggled the Ancient One into Paris. This stops the monstrous woman who remembers her past and realizes she’s made an error. Page 7 has writer Marguerite Bennett turn the situation on its head, as she often wonderfully does, with the setting moving to a more familiar location. What happens there is preparation for the final battle, but it is interrupted by Roderick’s underlings. The setting changes again, but things do not go as the men had expected. This is only the beginning of the horrors, as story continues into next issue. Without spoiling anything, my favorite dialogue begins on 15 and concludes on 16. This is a terrific read. Overall grade: A

The art:  The first page by Ariela Kristantina is a study in confrontation and sides. The first panel establishes the two groups that are against one another. The second panel shows a close-up of the heroines, clearly establishing them for the reader. The third panel shows the distance between the sides, with the panel after that showing how the distance has lessened considerably. The final panel on the page is something that Kristantina excels at: making something terrifying beautiful. The ancient queen’s face is beautiful, but the hint of scales on the sides of her face, her snake-like eyes, and the serpents hissing from her crown make her a terror. Page 2 is a full paged splash that shows the moment before the strike and the point of view of the illustration shows the reader the strength of the snake woman. It’s not often that Bertram is shown at a disadvantage, but she is easily overpowered and her peril will strike at the reader’s heart. The former visage of his creature is fantastic, as are its surroundings. The start of retribution begins on 13 and it’s a shocking salvo. This is followed by several revelations, but my favorite of the issue is the full paged splash on 16. The paintings, seen in earlier issues, return to the forefront, though the men in the room wish they had not. This is classic horror on every level, with the composition of the assailants outstanding and their actions chilling. There is much to love in Kristantina’s work and this issue shows every aspect of her skill as an artist. Overall grade: A

The colors: The colors by Jessica Kholinne are a perfect match for the artwork. Notice how she uses oranges to highlight the antagonist in the first panel. Kholinne is so good with the details, take note of the slight discoloration on Phoebe’s skin due to the glasses she wears. The final panel on the page is beautiful with the colors on the character’s face contrasting with the fiery eyes, shared by the serpents. Page 5 has some tremendous work done on the flowers, the ocean, and the sky. On 13 a lime green is used for a background color to enhance the crimson that’s spewing from the man’s wound. Green is also used for the magic that comes into play on 17 and it’s a perfectly ghastly color. Even the laughter is creepy shade of emerald. Kholinne’s work is also an excellent contribution to this issue. Overall grade: A

The letters: Scene settings, dialogue, sounds, yells, laughter, screams, and the tease for next issue come to life thanks to A Larger World. The scene settings are gorgeous, elegant and aged that instantly transport the reader to the past. The laughter that comes in the issue’s conclusion could give the Joker a run for his money in insane looking design. The standout from ALW is the sound that dramatically springs forward on Page 13. It’s not pretty, but it does fit the scene. Overall grade: A

The final line: InSEXts continues to be a beautifully horrific jewel in AfterShock’s crown. Superior story and art makes this a must read series. 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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