In Review: Mystere #1

A great start that sets the stage for the chaos to come.

The covers: A big eleven covers to track down for this premiere. The A cover by Igor Vitorino and Ivan Nunes is spectacular. Mystere is standing tall on a large mound of skulls that are on fire. Behind her are the streets of New Orleans. Oh, and the flames from the skulls are creating a fury that rising up the right of the image to create a screaming skull at the top that’s racing over to the left side. This cover would be a good one to use for the collection that will be issued after this series concludes. Mary is gorgeous on the B by Martin Coccolo and Mohan Sivakami. She’s got her hands above her head holding a skull in her hands. Blue light blazes out the skull’s eyes and wraps around Mary, turning into a vengeful skeletal spirit to her right. She looks amazing and the spook is ferocious. Excellent coloring on this, too! Mary is Mystere on the C cover by Josh Burns. She stands before the reader with with a bright red rose in her hair. She holds left hand up and a ghostly skull comes out of a grave to writhe about it. The graveyard behind her is dominated by a massive tree that’s in the center. Nice. A villain that doesn’t appear in this issue gets the spotlight on the D by Harvey Tolibao and Nunes. Imagine crossing Doomsday with Thor — that’s what this character looks like. Chains attached to a ring around this behemoth’s neck are pulled skyward. He’s hunched over holding a massive hammer with both hands. Skulls and bones hide the ground and this creature’s feet. I’m liking the way this thing looks and want to see more of him. Leonardo Colapietro has created another trippy cover for a Zenescope book on the E cover. Mystere’s vengeful face is in the center, a skull with orange leaves sits atop it. She’s surrounded by golden transparent rings that sport runes and flowers. A skull in profile is on the left. Below the face is a graveyard and above it a jagged night sky. Colapietro never disappoints. The F is the Blank Sketch cover which features the book’s publisher, title, number, and creators at the top and the subtitle in the lower right. The rest is empty white space waiting to have a unique sketch drawn upon it or the autographs of the creators. As always, I love the idea behind these covers, but on their own, they’re not much. There are also five Exclusive covers listed in the inside cover, but I couldn’t find images of them online. They include the Subscription Exclusive (limited to 75 copies) by Paul Green, the New York Comic Con Best of Zenescope Exclusive (limited to 150) by Keith Garvey, the London MCM Exclusive (250), VIP Exclusive (100), and the Zenescope Exclusive (50) by Elias Chatzoudis. Good luck, collectors! Overall grades: A A, B A, C B, D A+, E A+, and F C

The story: This is a character heavy issue conceived by Joe Brusha, Ralph Tedesco, Dave Franchini, and Ben Meares, with Meares writing the issue. The story begins with Charles “Charlie” Dover running frantically down a street. He takes a quick look behind himself to see if he’s being followed. He is. A large shadowy figure corners him and produces a massive hammer that looks as though it should be in the hands a god. This chase is accompanied by text that seems as though it’s from a police report. When the text closes with “He’s perfect” he hammer come down upon Charlie’s head and and an odd sound begins: VULLMMM VULLMMM VULLMMM–SHHP–. The story then moves to Mary who’s conducting an exorcism for a man who collects old books “…hoping for a glimpse through a window into the paranormal.” She’s able to rid the specter from the man’s house, though their business does not conclude well. As she walks to her day job she reminisces about her past, catching up new readers on her origin and her brief adventures in the Grimm Universe. She arrives at the New Dawn Shelter where she volunteers serving food to those who need it. Characters are introduced and all seems well until a trio of concerned friends wonder if Mary has seen Charlie. The first three pages have given the reader information that Mary does not have. The book concludes with the killer taking his hammer to an unseen character who makes a proclamation that undoubtedly is the justification for this villain’s violence. This is a solid start with not much action, laying the groundwork for what’s to come. I’m confident that those who’ve crafted this tale will make it enjoyable. Overall grade: B+

The art: The opening page by Sergio Ariño is very cinematic. An empty street at night has its quiet disrupted by a foot splashing into a puddle. The next panel moves the point of view up, showing the character’s middle as he runs. This is followed by the point of view still moving up, now showing the man’s frightened mouth and fists pumping as he bolts. The final panel shows poor Daniel looking terrified as he turns to look at his foe. Very cool. This villain is shown only in silhouette until he raises his hammer back, with the weapon and the man’s arm shown. When Daniel meets his maker, Ariño thankfully shows the violence in shadow, though he then pulls into the last expression on the dead man’s face and slowly pulls in closer, ending up on a wide open eye, closing out the page in darkness. The transition to the fourth page is clever and I like how Page 5 has Mary consider all that the paranormal has done for her. The spirit that appears on the next two pages looks good and I like how it’s captured. Page 8 has six similar sized panels that show Mary’s early life and the visuals communicate clearly what happened, though the text does increase the emotion. More flashbacks occur on 11 which are awesome. 14 and 15 introduces the New Dawn Shelter and the characters there. Page 18 starts ominously due to the point of view and it’s a very clever way for Ariño to begin this conversation. There’s a visual clue at the end of 19 that isn’t explained by any text, but readers will have no trouble figuring out what the last panel is saying. The opening villain appears on the final page and I thought that how an item is placed in a container is very intriguing. I’m liking what Ariño is doing. Overall grade: A

The colors: The book opens with beautiful blues and oranges from Ceci de la Cruz. These oranges become wonderfully horrific with sounds on Page 3. All the flashbacks are done in a neat sepia. Mary’s narration is colored blood red, giving her a sinister tone and instantly reminding the reader what they are reading. The spirit that appears on 6 and 7 has some really cool blues, giving it a very paranormal flavor. I like how the colors brighten up considerably inside the shelter, making it an inviting environment and showing how it’s the only place that truly seems to give Mary comfort. The view from Mary’s apartment is beautiful in its colors. Cruz is always an outstanding colorist. Overall grade: A

The letters: Carlos M. Mangual creates this issue’s scene settings, sounds, file text, dialogue and narration (the same font), and a yell. I really like the scene settings which resemble a harsh newspaper text. It’s very eye catching. The sounds, though few, are fun. The file text that’s on the first three pages looks like Times New Roman text one would find on a report. The dialogue and narration are easy to read, but I wish they would have been differed by their design rather than the shape and color of their balloons and boxes. Overall grade: A-

The final line: A great start that sets the stage for the chaos to come. I love Mary and am happy to see her back in another series. This issue expands her character by revealing much of her background. Also increasing her character is her day job, which is something that others often think about but never act upon. The visuals capture the real world and the one beyond the grave well. Though this issue starts this calmly, I’m sure upcoming issues will have more action. I’m ready for more! 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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