In Review: Red Thorn #5

Dark fantasy via Scotland is magical, funny, and fantastic. Recommended.

The cover: Thorn looks as though he’s ready to go into battle. He’s wearing what appears to be armor and he’s brandishing the flag of Scotland. He’s doing this within a graveyard and there’s an immense shadow behind him from the individual he’s facing. The outline of this individual looks odd, as he’s huge and completely bald. Why do I have the feeling this person isn’t human? Great cover by Choong Yoon that clearly shows the title character and contains slight teases as to what this issue’s story is about. My only nit is that Thorn is so tiny; I would have liked to have seen the point of view pulled in more tightly to him. Overall grade: B

The story: “Welcome back to Glasgow…The sexy, dirty jewel in Scotland’s dark crown.” In a bar two men are enjoying their pints, until one man notices the glass next to him is rising in the air on its own. “Hang on…Is that pint drinking itself?” The patron is told that Glasgow’s weird and he should get used to it. What the two cannot see is Franint, an orc, who’s there to be a bodyguard to Alec, and she’s not happy she has to do so because Alec is busy enjoying the friendliness of a female patron in a booth. A priest walks in and is greeted by someone in a booth who asks if he has lost his faith. He religious man says he has and his new friend says, “Then you have indeed come to the right place.” A turn of the page, and the hidden speaker is revealed to make a sumo wrestler seem small. It’s some type of enormous humanoid looking creature that follows up his response with “For I am your God.” That’s quite the opening from David Baillie for Glasgow Kiss, Chapter Five “In His Hands.” The book then moves to Thorn Keep where Isla wakes up with a hangover and wants to have words with Thorn. She does and things don’t go well. Baillie nicely has Isla break away from Thorn, only to be brought back into the fold, and then further separated by the story’s end. What Franint discovers is great, but where Isla ends up is even better. Yes, there’s dark fantasy in this book, but the humor has really risen as this series has progressed, with this issue featuring some of the best, but still character appropriate, lines. Absolutely fun. Overall grade: A

The art: Meghan Hetrick continues to show that she is an amazing talent. The opening page’s self-drinking pint is a great visual that requires no text to tell the reader what’s occurring or what the patron is thinking, but the banter at the bar is funny. The reveal of Franint is great and the slight reveal of Alex and his companion in the same panel is good foreshadowing. The entrance of the frail looking priest into such an establishment instantly causes concern, but nothing could possibly prepare the reader for the shock of the full page splash on 4. The layout of the page and emotions that are on display on 6 are spot on, and Thorn’s non-stop smile with Isla is akin to a used car salesman. Page 11 puts the super into supernatural, with one character revealing his true self and he’s amazing! If a reader thought that page was strong, 12 will push them over the edge, and I absolutely loved 15 and 16 which made such graphic imagery necessary. Pages 13 and 14 interject some great humor, with the female character’s reactions gold. Page 22 is the entrance into the spider’s lair and it’s fantastic with how it differentiates ever so slightly from Thorn Keep. Hetrick brings reality and fantasy to life superbly. Overall grade: A

The colors: Great coloring on this book from Steve Oliff. The first four pages have him excellently copying the dark interiors of a bar, but allowing things to be bright enough for the reader to see what’s going on and keeping Hetrick’s work shown. The hidden speaker on Pages 3 and 4 has specific colors given to his dialogue balloons and instantly tells readers that this person is not human. Isla’s bright hair and top allow her to become the focus every time she appears on a page. The transformation that occurs on the top of Page 14 is perfectly magical in eerie greens. My favorite work by Oliff are the violets that appear on the final page, alerting readers that this location is different from anywhere else Isla has gone. Overall grade: A

The letters: Todd Klein creates narration, dialogue, “that” character’s dialogue beginning on 3, the story’s title, opening credits, scene settings, sounds, and a unique character’s mumblings on Page 21. When characters have a unique font for their speech it visually separates them further from other “normal” characters, so I’m very happy to see Klein do this. I’m also pleased to see that he’s using different fonts for narration and dialogue. The really fun piece is the dialogue on 21 that seems as though it’s meant to be amusing, though the speaker appears anything but. Overall grade: A+

The final line: Dark fantasy via Scotland is magical, funny, and fantastic. This is something you should seek out. Recommended. Overall grade: A

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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