In Review: Red Thorn #6

Supernatural powers are making their claim on a human who refuses to be manipulated. Highest possible recommendation.

The cover: Two possible fates await Isla: in the upper right is the horned Belatucadros, in the lower left is the recently revived Thorn. Between them, on her knees, is Isla. Behind the woman is a glowing green portal. Rocks fly about her, perhaps in reaction to a spell that she seems to be casting. Terrific frontpiece by Choong Yoon that shows the relationship between all three characters, without spilling any of the secrets revealed within. Overall grade: A+

The story: Narrated by Isla in the past tense, The God of Drowned Children is in a boat that comes upon the revealed Lady of Loch Ness. The entity is seen by the deformed man and tells him, “…I’m afraid I cannot suffer you tae live. You are everything my love detests.” She summons a trio of her ilk and they attack the pitiful creature, assuring them, “…In return Thorn promises to find a way into the Otherworld.” David Baillie’s story then moves to the innermost chamber of the house of Belatucadros, where the scene of murder plays out before Isla and the house’s master. He tells her he is showing her this gruesome slaying to “demonstrate the depths to which Thorn will sink. The pain he will gladly cause…to get that which he desires.”  With this fourth page, Baillie is making it clear that things are going to be revealed to Isla, and the reader. And they are! The casual attitude that the horned Belatucadros has is wonderful. It is very easy for a reader to be caught up in his words, but, thankfully, Isla is immune. She knows that he wants something, just like Thorn, and that both individual spell trouble. Page 6 reveals the fate of one character that’s been a mystery since Issue #1, and Baillie gives it a sickeningly, sticky punch to the reader’s gut. Just as this information is told, the story cuts away to what Thorn is doing, showing him to be scheming as much as Belatucadros. After the initial pair is returned to, Baillie reveals two major things to Isla, and her world shatters, forcing action by one foe. Her allies help her the best they can, with a quick one page peek at a young accomplice, but I was really pleased to see what Thorn does — primitive to the extreme, but still powerful. I’m going to go crazy waiting to see what happens in 30 days. Overall grade: A+

The art: Meghan Hetrick is an incredible artist. I can stop my review right there, because that sums her up perfectly. However, let me justify my statement. She makes magic happen with her visuals. The first page starts innocently enough: a boat on a lake, with a slicker covered individual peering into the water. A close-up on the individual reveals him to look inhuman, but not in a monstrous way; he’s conveyed sympathetically because of his overbite and sad visage. Ness emerges from the water like a dream come true: beautiful and sylphlike, with just a touch of the exotic with a tattoo that writhes its way around her waist and shoulder. The second page has her stunning and the male figure a sad incarnation of deformity. The arrival of Ness’s minions is a violent explosion from the liquid; their forms are not as human as their master’s. The violence is eluded to, as Hetrick has pulled away from the boat, allowing the reader’s imagination to complete the picture. It’s a perfect sequence that sets the magical and harsh tone of this book. Page 4 has only two panels but establishes two of the main characters, Isla and Belatucadros. Both are standing before the other strongly; while the supernatural character may seem the superior of the two, due in no small part to his fearsome head, Isla is just as powerful with her hands at her hips — a visual clue that she is no pushover. This fierce countenance from her is thrown aside with Page 13 — a frightening and surprising visual. As this pair shares their tete-e-tete, Beillie’s story inserts Thorn and a companion into the proceedings. Thorn is the most handsome and dangerous visual character in comics. His presence oozes raw sexuality in every panel. His smile a threat and an invitation. I can think of no other new character in comics that commands such a presence on the page. And should one think him too debonair, his actions on 16 and 17 are wonderfully opposite. Hetrick brings the beauty and the horror of fantasy to life amazingly. Overall grade: A+

The colors: This book is full of images that simmer just on the cusp of explosion. The colors by Steve Oliff assist the artwork by bringing a fanciful and edgy feel. The first two panels of Page 1 appear as everyday sights: a boat on a body of water under a dreary sky. The lighting on Ness when she appears comes from around and below her, teasing the reader with what can be seen and what takes some effort; a fantastic way by Oliff to draw the reader deeper into the image, making the close up of the figure atop 2 more intense. When the water around Ness comes to life it’s a swirl of florescent liquid, teasing what’s making the wakes, until final exploding. The greens in the room with Isla and Belatucadros keep the object that’s producing such colors always in the forefront of the reader’s mind. The reds on 6 are fantastic, with the darker crimson being the color that the reader can’t look away from. The oranges behind Thorn when he’s casting his spell are a slick way to make him and his actions more primitive, harkening back to ancient man’s prayers. Oliff is doing fantastic work on every page. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Narration, dialogue, the unique dialogue of the God of Drowned Children, story title and credits, yells, and the tease for next issue are conjured by Todd Klein. The dialogue for the slicker wearing individual makes his character all the more grotesque and the opening credits are gorgeous. Terrific looking in every way. Overall grade: A+

The final line: Supernatural powers are making their claim on a human who refuses to be manipulated. This is a fantastic story with incredible imagery. Highest possible recommendation. 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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