In Review: Red Thorn #13

A terrific close for an outstanding fantasy tale.

The cover: In a mirror image to Issue #2 from this series, Thorn knells to receive the crown he has sought. He is bleeding from a wound to his cheek and a trickle of blood comes from his forehead. His ear and hands are nicked and there is a quite the bloody stain on his chest. Though he looks like he’s been through Hell, he seems to be at peace as he bows down to receive the crown from an unknown character. This image sums where long time readers thought this series would end up, showing that Choong Yoon knows exactly how tease the fans. I really like how this is the mirror of Issue #2. Overall grade: A 

The story: This is the final issue of this series and it wraps up things well. David Baillie opens the book right where a final issue should begin, with the Apocalypse beginning. Thorn is fighting Belatucadros and not doing very well. It’s revealed how Thorn was captured long ago and why Cadros did it. Thorn at least has a heroic reason for battling the antagonist: he wants to have the humans continue to inhabit the Earth. Cadros thinks differently, “I wanted gods to be gods and humans to remain human. What’s so wrong with that?” Just as it seems the villain is going to behead the hero, and there is no possible way that Thorn will be victorious, someone seen in a previous issue appears and everything changes. The action that occurs on Page 8 had me in awe and a bit of disgust at that character’s undoing. Where the survivor of this battle ends up is fantastic, and whom he meets puts another spin in the tale. The reaction in the second panel on Page 10 was brilliant — there is no other possible response from this character. I was taken by complete surprise at the full page splash on 12, but when I was done with this issue I began to think about it. Like Page 10, there was no other option for this character. It is a definite WOW! moment. The remainder of the book wraps up what happens to the supporting cast and each ends up in a satisfying place. However, yet again, Baillie has a great surprise with 14 and 15. The final three pages are wonderful and the last word of dialogue will have me keeping my fingers crossed. Mr. Baillie, I’m standing and applauding the way you concluded this series. Overall grade: A+

The art: Two artists close out this book, Meghan Hetrick, who does Pages 6 – 9 and 20 – 22, and Ryan Kelly, doing Pages 1 – 5 and 10 – 19. Hetrick has become one of my favorite artists because of this book and I follow her work wherever she goes. She gets to draw the surprise reveal on 6, the death of a major character, and the moving finale. She puts some sensational emotion into a character on 20 that was sympathetic to begin with in past issues, but Hetrick got me sniffling at how she portrays this individual. The last page is triumphant, with the final panel leaving me screaming at the one thought running through that character’s mind. Having said all this, don’t count Kelly out! He gets to illustrate the bloody confrontation between the two powers in the book’s opening, with Thorn definitely on the ropes, and he makes Cadros a monster, especially in the final panel on 4. The first panel on 5 completely fishhooked me; I was expecting one thing on Page 6 because of this illustration and Kelly set it up perfectly. Kelly does this again on 1o, setting me up for “something” and giving me a shocker of an image in a full page splash. Wow! On 14 he closes out one character’s saga in an incredibly moving way, with the female’s reactions excellent. I love both artists on this book. Overall grade: A

The colors: Nick Filardi does the coloring on this book. Like Kelly, he knows exactly how to use his talents to impact the story. Page 1 has three panels that are done in passive grays, browns, and greens, which set up a colorful reveal in the fourth panel. Muted reds, oranges, and yellows are used when Thorn and Belatucadros fight and it gives the action a hellish, dark fantasy tone. Additionally, Cadros’s dialogue is a black dialogue balloon and a sickly green, emphasizing his evil nature excellently. The colors of battle don’t give any inkling of who appears on 6 and when this character does appear the colors change dramatically. Filardi’s colors pushed me over the edge in the fifth panel on 20; the visuals was already strong enough, but the coloring of the character’s eyes had me tearing up. With all the reds and oranges on the final page, it was neat to see that Filardi makes the chants stand out. Just beautiful. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Lettering legend Todd Klein creates dialogue, scene settings, screams, sounds, a super sound for a character in a unique position on Page 8, a character’s specific speech font on 12, chants, the story’s title, and the book’s credits. It might seem simple, but I really love the text on Page 8; after consideration, what else would this dialogue look like? I love the chants at the book’s end and how they increase in size to send this book out on a strong note. Mention must also be made of the outstanding scene settings — they place the book in its mythology instantly. Overall grade: A 

The final line: You ended far too soon, Red Thorn. You started strong and you ended strong. A terrific close. An outstanding fantasy tale. 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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