In Review: Moth & Whisper #3

Niki goes undercover and things go wrong.

The cover: This is an outstanding cover by interior artist and colorist Jen Hickman. This is a view of the Wolfe’s refuse sorting facitily that Niki breaks into in this issue. I love that every level above and below ground can be seen. The details are fantastic, including surveillance cameras in several rooms. If one pays close attention, one can spot Niki in the building as well as Wolfe and some of his associates. This is just so darned cool! I would love to see an oversized version of this. Overall grade: A+

The story: In another disguise, Niki meets with Walter Waverly so he can provide the intel for Niki to get into one of Wolfe’s buildings. Once in, Niki will get into a server so Walter can download information. Whatever is found about Niki’s parents the protagonist keeps, everything else goes to Walter so he can prove to his father that he’s responsible enough to lead the Non Grata. Going through the names and faces Walter provides, Niki finds a ninety-nine percent facial match with employee Nia Tulles. The unfortunate worker gets knocked out a few blocks away and Niki assumes the woman’s identity. Once inside the building some gruesome discoveries are made, as well as some obstacles. The sequence on 11 – 12 is great and the final eight pages are riveting. I really like the dialogue of the character that dominates the situation: it was smart and to the point. The ending is a solid cliffhanger, with Niki literally hanging. Ted Anderson is writing one heck of an entertaining story. I love the dialogue, the tension, the world, and the action in this issue. Overall grade: A

The art and the colors: I am huge fan of Jen Hickman based on her work for this series. She creates a futuristic world that seems possible, rather than one drowning in robots and aliens. Even her settings are wonders to look at. The first panel gives all the visual clues the reader to confirm the information Niki gives later on the page. The sly aside they give to Walter before he lowers his car window is a slick piece of characterization to show Niki knows a lot of stuff. Even Walter’s car looks cool. It’s only briefly seen from the outside, but it has quite a bit going on inside it. The exterior of the refuse sorting facility looks absolutely plain, but with it being owned by a mobster, the reader knows that it will have to contain some surprising things, and boy does it! The screening that Niki has to go through to enter is believable, yet futuristic. The teases of what’s occurring at this facility are shown at the bottom of Page 7 and all of 8. I like that Hickman chose not to show the graphic horrors that are being done, instead giving slight glimpses, knowing that what the reader could imagine would be much worse. Colors are especially key to understanding what’s going on in the final panel on 7. I like that starting with this page oranges used for the panels give way to greens and grays, reinforcing the secretive nature of the establishment. The action on 9 – 12 is great, with the characters’ body movements appropriate for what’s being done. The colors increase the tension well, with yellows and reds appearing in tense moments. Greens return for the final eight pages, making the conversation appear disgusting for one of the characters. The dominant character on these pages has the expected look for someone in this position, but doesn’t appear beaten down with age, which is good because that would have been a cliché. The close-up of a character on the penultimate page is a solid look of defiance which the reader needs to see. The final panel of the book is a good cliffhanger, which has me wondering if the position of something underneath the hero could be a clue to how to get out of this situation. I’m afraid I cannot be unbiased about Hickman’s work. I’m a fan. Overall grade: A+

The letters: This issue’s text consists of dialogue, Weaver’s dialogue, computer text, transmissions, whispers, sounds and the tease for next issue. All are created by Marshall Dillon. There’s a lot of whispering in this issue and the text goes small for these moments, but not so small that it’s unreadable. It’s just tiny enough to still be read while alerting the reader to the danger in speaking it. I like that Weaver has its own unique dialogue font, visually separating the AI from humanity. The transmissions, of which there are also several, are done in italics, which is the way to have them look just a titch different from spoken words. There are few sounds in this issue and they occur in the latter half. They increase the action in every panel they appear. Overall grade: A

The final line: Niki goes undercover and things go wrong. Great, smart story as the protagonist learns something terrible. The art continues to soar, with every page a visual winner. This is one of my favorite books on the market and I can’t wait to read the next one. 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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