In Review: Insexts #2

Beautiful, erotic, and horrific -- a perfect trio! Recommended.

The cover: Six months later and it appears that Lady Lalita Bertram has spread her wings with her new…abilities. With a beautiful background of ornate dragonflies and luscious foreground of flowers, the Lady leans upon the severed head of one of her suitors. Her smile shows she enjoyed what’s she done and looks eager to repeat the action on another. Excellent artwork by Ariela Kristantina and colorist Bryan Valenza. This is a fantastic mix of art nouveau and horror that captures the tone of this deliciously deviant issue. I must include that the image used with this review is not a bright as a physical copy of this book. Overall grade: A+

The story: “Garden Party” by Marguerite Bennett opens at such an event, with lovers Mariah and Lady Bertram away from prying eyes, unable to keep their hands and lips off one another. Their desires momentarily sated, the servant helps her lady redress, while Lalita wonders if she can continue to put off Colonel Fitzgerald, who believes her husband, Harry — whom the women killed — ran off. He wishes to take her for himself. Unfortunately the man is able to corner the widow in a garden maze. “The women of your rank are like nothing else even seen on this earth. And none of them are so half as intoxicating as you. An exotic creature–” Unable to take any more of the man’s advances, Lalita interrupts, “‘Exotic.’ My dear Colonel…Let me show you how exotic I can be.” Her eyes go a luminous green, her fingers enlarge into talons, clawed extensions erupt from her back, accompanied by large insect wings. That’s quite the payoff early in this story to show how far the Lady has changed into a creature like her lover Mariah. This incident at the party is dealt with, very effectively at the bottom of Page 7, before something more troublesome occurs at the bottom of 8. Two new characters are introduced on the next pair of pages, George and Sylvia Bertram, the brother and sister-in-law of dead Harry. They are very opinionated in several subjects, one of them that Harry’s legacy shall not be squandered by “that harlot.” Before one of them can meet with the widow, something of great concern appears on Page 15 that could be much more dangerous than the insect women. Bennett nicely increases the horror, the intimacy, and the villains to this series without any coming across as forced. I’m already finding myself torn as to who or what constitutes the greater evil in this series, and I couldn’t be happier feeling this way. Overall grade: A+ 

The art: Artist Ariela Kristantina really captures the time period of this tale. The first page opens with all the trappings one would expect to encounter in a program on Masterpiece Theater. The butterflies are beautiful, the clothes on the guests formal, and the setting perfect for a garden party. It’s only with a turn of the page that Kristantina gets to show that she can also do the sensual, as the two protagonists enjoy one another. It’s a shocking scene, given the calm set up of the first page, but it shows something hidden from the others in this issue, and this is only the first instance of secrets from the general public. When Lalita reveals her true nature on 5 it’s a shocking transformation — grotesque, to be sure; yet she’s a marvelous looking monster. Sylvia and George look wonderfully posh as they spout their ugly ideology, which provides Kristantina another opportunity to marvelously show that looks can be deceiving. Without the text on Pages 12 and 13, it’s obvious for any reader to see that this couple love each other immensely. Pages 15 and 16 are good tease of later reveals in future issues, and I really want to see this character in the daylight! The conversation that occurs on 18 and 19 is nicely tilted to show that the conversation is askew, even though one character believes that she has the upper hand. The final page is print worthy, with the trio of images at the bottom wonderful. Kristantina’s art is beautiful, erotic, and horrific — a perfect trio! Overall grade: A

The colors: Increasing the art nouveau flavor of the visuals are the colors by Bryan Valenza. The colors are rich in the evening setting of the party, with purples and greens dominating, just as the orange lights are that allow individuals to move in the darkness. Lalita’s transformation has her eyes glow the most gorgeous green, while the colors of her wings seem as if they were taken from an actual insect. Having Sylvia in a hint of purple gives her speech a royal feel, which strengthen her action and resolve. The way light illuminates characters increases the reality of the settings, such as in a backstreet where ladies of the night have an extraordinary encounter. I hope that Valenza stays on this book as long as Kristantina does, because he increases the power of her work on every page. Overall grade: A

The letters: A Larger World creates dialogue, sounds, scene settings, singing, and some lines of poetry. All look good, with the singing and poetry being the best because they are such strong visuals. Overall grade: A

The final line: Mortiferum amatoribus are alive and well in this book, and now they are being threatened. Will their dark deeds be revealed or is there a way for their crime and love to survive? I can’t wait to find out! Recommended. Overall grade: A  

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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