In Review: the Black Knight #4

A stand is made to save the Grigor family, but one character falls.

The covers: Eight covers to find for this penultimate issue. The A cover comes courtesy Riveiro and Ceci de la Cruz. The Black Knight is looking down from a skyscraper, unaware that Sirin is behind her. However, the title character looks overjoyed, perhaps she is aware the villain is approaching and is relishing the upcoming fight. Both characters look good and the setting is outstanding. Also sharp are the colors that connote night but allow everything to be clearly seen. Eman Casallos and Hedwin Zaldivar create a fanciful fight on the B cover. This has the hero standing in some dead grass looking up at Sirin who’s descending upon her with a mace held in both hands. Black magic trails from the wings of the villain as she makes her attack. Neat action poses on the characters with a dynamic mountain setting behind them. Neat colors on this, too, with excellent blues, reds, and violets for the sky. I wish the image had been pulled in a titch closer to the characters. The “Good Girl” cover is the C from Josh Burns. This has the Black Knight on one knee, looking at the reader strongly. She holds her sword point down in her right hand and her hair and cape whip behind her due to the volcanic activity surrounding her. This is stunning! This was the cover I chose to accompany this review. Evil Nadia Vasilev gets the spotlight on the D cover by Robert Atkins and Ceci de la Cruz. She’s wearing a black jacket and matching skirt over a light blue blouse. Her eyes have gone ebony as she looks at the reader with a wicked smile. Black smoke trails from both her hands and surrounds the top and left side of this frontpiece. Excellent tease. There are two Pensacon Exclusives illustrated by Mike Krome and colored by Zaldivar. The 350 limited edition has Peyton kneeling in the surf, facing the sunset. She’s turned her head to smile at the reader. She’s wearing a red baseball cap backwards, a white crop top with her right shoulder exposed, and short jeans shorts. Her sword is planted in the sand to her right, with her helmet next to it. She looks great! The sunset is gorgeous. The 100 issue edition has the character in the same pose, though now wearing a slim black bikini top and thong. WOW! There are two other covers, but I couldn’t find them online: the Spring Zenebox Exclusive (limited to 150) by Jamie Tyndall and Zaldivar and the Zodiac Pack Exclusive (limited to 100) by Paul Green and Ula Mos. Good luck, collectors! Overall grades: A A, B A-, C A+, D A-, Pensacon Exclusive (350) A, and Pensacon Exclusive (100) A+

The story: District Attorney Chase Sinclair is at Club Natasha, the unofficial headquarters of the Grigor family crime syndicate. He’s there with his aide and several officers to investigate the carnage that’s occurred, but he’s getting nowhere from Vadim Grigor. The body on the ground has been exsanguinated and the decapitated head bears the marking on the ear as one of the Grigor family. Another body is outside, also with the tell-tale Grigor ear, “Bringing the body count for this mob war to nineteen already.” This story, conceived by Joe Brusha, Ralph Tedesco, Dave Franchini, and Terry Kavanagh, with Kavanagh doing the writing, moves next to the Parlor Pub where Peyton, Brin, and Nikolai are lying low thanks to owner Paw. Nikolai makes up an excuse for Paw to get them some food so he and Brin can get Peyton to talk about her alter ego as the Black Knight. Seeing a newspaper, Peyton rushes from the room to solve one of their problems while avoid answering their questions. There’s a three page interlude where Sirin learns that Nadia answers to another. Petyon returns to the pub with a new ally and she then is off to save the surviving Grigors. The entrance on 11 is good and I love the mechanical devices on 13 — very smart! The savior’s entrance on 13 is good and the action that ends the page solid. The fight that follows is great and I love that the villain needs assistance. The final page is a good throw back to the technology seen earlier. A smart and action filled chapter. Overall grade: A

The art: I’m enjoying Sergio Ariño’s artwork on this book. The first page is a well done full-paged splash that shows the bar, police, dancing girls, bodies, and plenty of debris. I like the shading put into characters’ jackets and vests on Page 2 and the point of view in the fifth panel is neat. Nickolai’s blasé emotion on the second panel on page 3 says so much about him. Brin continues to look gorgeous with that long strand of hair in front of her face. The tilted panels on 6 reinforce how the proceedings on the page aren’t right. And how about Sirin’s close-up on this page? Beautiful! I love her reaction to what she’s seeing on the next page. Nadia really looks like the infamous Baba Yaga on these pages. The entrance on 11 is outstanding. I love how this character manipulates her shadows on 13 as a shield. The entrance on 15 is great and the broken glass adding to the characters’ movement is cool. I’m glad Ariño did a high point of view showing all the dead on 16. The explosion of shadows on 17 is slick. Pages 18 – 19 and 20 – 21 have battles that cross the pages and it’s where Ariño really shines, with the large panel that crosses the first two pages killer. The combatants’ emotions during these scenes are perfect. Overall grade: A

The colors: Robby Revard’s work is also strong. The violets and blues on the first two pages complete the sleazy setting. Skin tones on all the characters are great and I loved the eyes of those hiding in the pub. The reds on 6 and 7 add to the horror considerably, especially when they cover Sirin. I’m so happy that Bevard uses blues to create the night rather than blacks which would have overwhelmed the art. I love the spotlight and explosions on 12 and 13. The reds on Sirin that end the issue really pop against the white background, and the same can be said of the Black Knight’s blacks. Overall grade: A

The letters: Scene settings, dialogue, editorial notes, sounds, and yells are created by Saida Temofonte. The scene settings resemble a computer’s text from the 80’s, which I think is cool, though the first letter always looks as if it was from an ancient Russian tome. The dialogue and yells are easy to read. The sounds in this book are awesome, with the climax having several killer ones, such as SHLLK, WHOOM, WHNNG, and SKRSSH. Overall grade: A

The final line: A stand is made to save the Grigor family, but one character falls. Peyton continues to grow in her abilities as Nadia’s mysterious benefactor is almost free. Excellent story and visuals that already have me wishing this was a monthly series. Exciting and entertaining. 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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