In Review: Moth & Whisper #4

A fantastic read with Niki on the run and encountering a new character. Highest possible recommendation.

The cover: As Niki makes their way through the city without the mask on, their identity remains a secret because the book’s logo covers the top half of their face. Behind Niki are several notices that this closer-than-you-think society demands: DO NOT COVER YOUR FACE, YOUR FACE WILL BE SEEN, FACIAL RECOGNITION SOFTWARD IN USE, etc. Fantastic cover by interior artist and colorist Jen Hickman that clearly shows the reader what to expect of this future society, which also nicely teases protagonist Niki. I also like the background being in different shades of orange, making it appear that these notices have been slapped on the walls over a long duration of time. I love this! Overall grade: A+

The story: Niki is in the worst possible situation. Last issue they were captured by Ambrose Wolf and his minions. Now they are hanging from the ceiling, their mask, which contains access to Weaver, tossed on the floor. Ted Anderson has one of the two guards in Niki’s room pick up the mask from the floor and pretend to put it on, “‘Hey! Check me out! I’m the world’s greatest pretender!‘” Something happens to this guard and Niki makes a move by making a swinging kick into the other. They think to themselves, ‘Fortress brand handcuffs. Last year’s model. Vulnerable, if you know how.’ The last two panels have Niki remembering what’s occurred to them, but doing what’s necessary to get out. Niki isn’t going to get out alone: they have to rescue Walter Waverly, who was captured as well. How this is accomplished is great and how the pair are able to exit the building is awesome. The location they go to on Page 11 is such a great place, with who and what they find there even better. This character revealed on 14 is so darned cool! The dialogue between this character and Niki is perfection; Niki needed to have someone to confide in and have their back and this character seems to be the answer to both. The final three pages address information that was shown to Niki in the previous issue, but there’s a spin put on it. The last panel of the book had me uttering, “Hell, yeah.” The tension of this tale and the intelligence of the lead makes this the best written issue yet. Overall grade: A+

The art and colors: Jen Hickman continues to make this book look fantastic. The first panel of the issue shows Niki dangling from their hands in a storage room, as proven by several hanging wires, trash on the floor, and folding chairs, as a man stands guard. Underneath Niki is their mask. The action in the first two panels on the second page is excellent. Notice how Hickman puts this setting in a sickly green, making Niki’s situation seem disgusting. Once out of this room the colors go metallic blue. The first panel on Page 4 isn’t explicitly explained, but the reader knows something unpleasant has occurred. The action that follows is great. The exit that’s shown on 5 is nicely spotlighted with orange. The predominance of closed circuit televisions cameras is haunting on the pages that follow, justifying Niki’s paranoia at being spotted and reminding the reader that in this future there is no privacy. The use of oranges in the first panel on 8 is great. The objects in the first panel on 10 is absolutely creepy. I love the tease of the police! The last panel on 13 is a good visual surprise. The design of the character encountered on Page 14 reminded me a lot of Lori Petty from the Tank Girl movie. The most sinister image of the issue occurs in the third panel on 15, with a character having a reaction that could spell future trouble for Niki. The elements within the fourth panel on the same page are killer. An entire issue could be spent here and everything still wouldn’t be revealed. Notice how the fourth panel on 16 has Hickman making the colors dark to make the dialogue spoken incredibly heavy. The lack of dialogue in the final panel made the emotions of the individuals in it deafening. The flashback on the following page is fantastic — I love this look! Notice that just before this panel a new location is entered and the characters are enveloped by a harsh pink light. This coloring is a great introduction to one character’s emotional response that happens on the next page. A video is watched in the book’s final pages and it’s given a golden tone to age it and to make the speaker’s words wonderfully ironic. The look the speaker gives in the final panel was awesome. I cannot get enough of Hickman’s work! Overall grade: A+

The letters: Another visual that sets this book apart from other books is the text by Marshall Dillon. He creates dialogue, yells, sounds, Niki’s speech and narration (the same font), transmissions, and the three word tease for next issue. The only ding I have for the letters is that Niki’s dialogue and narration is the same font, set apart only by the shape of the balloon holding each; putting Niki’s dialogue in italics would have been enough to differ it. Everyone’s dialogue is thicker than Niki’s speech, making them sound differently to the reader. There are some great yells in this issue, each in a different font and size so that the reader can see and hear them at their appropriate volumes. I like how transmissions are in italics to give them a computer tone. The sounds in this issue are great, with KZZZZTTT, SHFF, and all the TAKs being great. Overall grade: A+

The final line: A fantastic read with Niki on the run and encountering a new character. The action is great, the characters smart, and the ending leaving me pumped for more. The visuals are thrilling, with a design for the future I’ve not seen before, the characters look great, and the tech believable and killer. Even the lettering adds to the futuristic flavor. I cannot get enough of this book. I’m drawn to it like a flame and I’m shouting that you check this out! Highest possible recommendation. 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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