In Review: Rasputin: The Voice of the Dragon #5

An epic ending for an incredible series. Highest possible recommendation.

The covers: Two covers to pick up to take to your home or final resting place. The Regular cover is by Mike Huddleston and shows Rasputin holding a hand up while crimson explodes behind him. Before the master is Albert Mayhew, the ghost, who has energy coming out of both his hands, though he looks to be in pain with the mad Russian before him. Just below this phantasm is a skull that bears a Nazi swastika, which is partially obscured by a tomb that has opened revealing its inhabitant and a golden tablet. There’s a lot of energy on this which is fantastic, with Rasputin receiving unquestionable focus from the reader. This is a perfect cover for this final issue. The Variant cover is by one of my favorite artists, Michael William Kaluta, and if you’ve never encountered his art, gaze upon this incredible cover. In the center of the image is the title character, looking up at the reader. Below him is a figure falling before his power. The monk is casting shadows around him, with the one directly behind him sporting glowing eyes. Both men are within a circular pit which ghostly tentacles are writhing their way into. No, seriously, there are a gazillion tentacles trying to snare the pair. This is magical, frightening, and epic. It’s beautiful. Overall grades: Both A+

The story: The ghost of Albert Mayhew has begun the incantation to release the spirit within the tomb. Trevor Bruttenholm watches from a distance, stunned at what he’s witnessing. Mayhew screams the spell is working, adding, “Soon, the power will be mine!” Elsewhere in the chamber, A.N. Sandhu discovers that Rasputin is standing next to him, also watching the spectacle. Recognizing the fiend, he raises his rifle at the antagonist and is fortunate that Rasputin is distracted by a demand made by Mayhew. Sandhu rushes the Russian and then something happens. That can be said of every page of this book: something happens. This is a perfect payoff for all the building that his series has had. The moment has come for the tomb to open and readers will not be disappointed. Naturally, Rasputin is not pleased by the ghost’s betrayal. Bruttenholm confronts Haupstein and Kurtz, with surprising results, such as on Page 7. The power at work in this issue is staggering, as shown by 10 – 12 and 14 and 15. The revelation on 16 and 17 is jaw-dropping. What is taken from this climax on 18 is terrific. The penultimate page teases dangers to come for one character, while the final page has someone sealing their fate. Wow. Seriously, Wow. Mike Mignola and Chris Roberson have created an epic conclusion for this dark series. Overall grade: A+

The art: Somebody snatch up Christopher Mitten for a monthly series, please! To say he makes a summoning spectacular is a tremendous understatement. From the first page the reader gets a taste of what’s to come: Bruttenholm reacts to something the reader doesn’t yet see, with it revealed in the second panel as Mayhew is wearing Egyptian garb as energy comes out of him and two staffs onto a tomb before him, as four mechanical Anubi (Anubises?) watch intently, ending with a close-up of the specter delighting in the power that he will soon have. This is followed by a three page confrontation between Sandhu and Rasputin, which is fantastic, and then turns to Kurtz and Haupstein confronted by Bruttenholm for five pages which is tense and frightening. After these human battles, the story returns to Mayhew on Page 10 with debris starting to fly about and two guards who only now begin to rethink their jobs. Mitten makes this sequence a classic with the power of his illustrations, creating epic actions that are like the climax to Raiders of the Lost Ark cranked up to 11. Page 13 is a stunner for the utter power on the page. Page 15 has things take a visual turn subtly, as the energy that’s been created is masking something. The reveal on 16 is flat out awesome, as what’s shown is not what anyone expected, be they character or reader. I love the reactions in the last two panels on this page. 17 is akin to witnessing the fantastic suddenly turned horrific. A true purpose is revealed visually on 18, which allows Mitten to create a spectacular setting with the characters that have survived. 20 is beautiful for its setting, providing a classical background for the heartbreak. The final page reveals what has come of the title character, with the final panel being the perfect conclusion, and there’s no text — it relies entirely on the visuals to tell the reader what’s occurred. These are the perfect visuals for this tale. Overall grade: A+

The colors: Also perfect for this issue are the colors. Greens are used throughout this book to show the supernatural deeds of Mayhew. I really like that these colors aren’t a blanket color on the character or the proceedings, but several different shades to give the visuals added depth. The scenes focusing on humans are in grays of different shades, showing to the reader that they’re acting in the dark. A rust colored red is used to draw attention to the armbands on Kurtz and Haupstein. The sounds are muted brights, reinforcing upon the reader that their scenes are occurring in dimly lit areas. A dramatic change of colors occurs on 18 and intensifies on the page that follows. This shift increases the shock of the visuals wonderfully. 20 has the background more clearly revealed to the reader, so the colors within it also are shown and they are beautiful. The final page’s panel uses colors to explain the conclusion and they are excellent. Dave Stewart is awesome. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Clem Robins creates this issue’s narration and dialogue, yells, sounds, and whispers. Sounds are always well done by Robins, with there being several, especially during the human confrontations. I also liked the two whispers from the two guards, unable to give their full voices to what they are seeing or experiencing. The yells are the real contributions to rally behind, because there are several in different sizes and fonts that gloriously propel this issue into the stratosphere. Overall grade: A+

The final line: An epic ending for an incredible series. Confrontations, dark magic, Nazis, and heroes scrambling to save the world. Damn, I need more! 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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