In Review: The Black Knight #5

This is how to end a series!

The covers: A lucky seven covers to pick up for this final issue of Peyton Parks’s initial series outing. The A is by Ivan Nunes and has the title character making her way through a forest on her mount. The horse and Knight’s eyes are glowing a neon blue. She has one hand up for action and the other holding her sword ready. The light falling on the pair is fantastic. The B cover is full of so much awesome chaos. The Black Knight is in the foreground holding her sword out to strike at Sirin who’s flying just out of her blade’s reach. The Knight is holding her weapon and the scales of justice, while Sirin has a blazing white and blue mace. The villain is also using her shadow abilities to make tendrils appear from the ground to wrap around the Knight’s legs and arms, to keep her from hitting her mark. And in the far right it appears that Nadia is trying to escape. What isn’t on this detailed cover from Harvey Tolibao and Nunes? Holy cow is the C cover by Hedwin Zaldivar incredible! The Black Knight stands below the Brooklyn Bridge at night. She has one fist held ready as a threat and a promise, while her cape billows out behind her. She looks incredible! The coloring on this is spectacular. This is the definition of a WOW! cover. Mike Mahle has created a very stylized D cover that is on beautiful dark violet background. The Knight stands in the center of the cover looking down upon the reader. She’s holding an incredibly long sword downwards in her right hand. At her feet her cape has splayed out and a neat mist swirls about her. Her long blonde hair can be seen sweeping out from behind her. This is great. I could not find the Subscription Exclusive (limited to 75 copies) by Jay Anacleto. I could found both editions of the Emerald City Comic Con Exclusives (limited to 350/250) by Keith Garvey. This has a blonde woman working at a Not-a-Starbucks. She’s only wearing the green vest, featuring the Zenescope logo on the upper center. Out of one of the pockets is a notepad also featuring the same logo. She’s holding a cup of joe in her hand for the reader if they’re brave enough to take it. Behind her is the interior of a coffee shop, as seen from behind the counter. This is very cool.  The smaller edition has the exact same background and character, though she’s pulled her vest down, revealing her chest. Her nipples are covered by two stickers that are the green Zenescope logos. Good luck finding these, collectors! Overall grades: A A, B A+, C A+, D A, Emerald City Comic Con Exclusive (350) A, and Emerald City Comic Con Exclusive (250) A

The story: Peyton kneels in the rain at the grave her father confessing that he would hate what she’s become, the Black Knight. She’s realized that with her heroic mantle she’s learned to embrace all parts of herself, “…including the scariest parts — is the best way to honor justice…To honor you and me.” A familiar face reveals himself and tells her he can be the shoulder for her to cry on. Peyton then makes her way with Brin to the service for Nikolai Bakunin. Unfortunately, Peyton wants to speak to his widow and things don’t go well. That night at Nadia’s house, the Russian woman and Sirin begin the spell to release the creature from the mirror. A battle breaks out with a startling reveal on page 12. I’m happy at the temptation placed before Peyton by Joe Brusha, Ralph Tedesco, Dave Franchini, and Terry Kavanagh, with Kavanagh writing this finale. The villain is fully revealed and I love how his identity was right before the reader the whole time. Who else could it have been but this person? I love the transformation on 16 — very cool and very wicked! The solution to overcoming the villain is smart and I was happy to see who escaped destruction with the sounds at the bottom of 17 delightfully devious. The punishment and reaction to it on 20 is great and the action and reaction on 22 made me smile. There are three epilogues. One is a hopeful promise, one an ominous tease, and one a horror waiting to happen. Great conclusion and this trio of endings promises more adventures to come. Overall grade: A

The art: The first page of this book is very cinematic as Peyton kneels in the rain. There is a lot of dialogue in these panels, but artist Sergio Ariño leaves plenty of room for the visuals to be seen. He also gets a lot of emotion out of Peyton, with her reaction in the final panel perfect. The two panels without backgrounds on the second page pack as much punch as those with the rain. I again have to praise the work done on the characters’ hair in this series: no matter the style, each coiffure looks cool. The dwelling briefly seen on page 5 looks great. The pair of characters within it also look great. The second panel on 6 is a good pull back to show the setting to the reader as the layout becomes a plot point. The captured supernatural creatures within the mirror continue to create chills. The arrival on 8 is good and the gesture ends the page perfectly and hilariously for the text. The battle that soon follows is good with 12 having two great panels that close it out. The reveal on 14 is awesome for the anger and insanity on the true antagonist’s face. I love the change in this character that starts 16. The electricity, energy, and explosion that follow are excellent. A full-page splash comprises 18 and the architecture is again strong, plus I love the figure before the moon. The loser’s face on 20 is a fantastic payoff, but I have to admit the final two panels on the next page are bigger winners. The book ends with a visual that will have Peyton’s fans wanting more. One thing I know is I want to see more of Ariño’s work. Overall grade: A

The colors: Robby Bevard adds to the emotion and action of this issue with his contributions. Peyton is a standout when she appears due to her blonde hair, such as on the first two pages in the rain. I like the colors done on the trees and the headstones in the cemetery, making the scenes believable. The action on Page 4 seems extra strong with the sound done in a strong red. Dark crimson clothes the two villains on 5 and dominates the thing in the glass. It’s impressive to see all the different shades of red in this creature. Check out the cool blues on the pair that look upon it. I like how the beast’s red dialogue balloons are outlined in a ghostly yellow to make them stand out. Violets are used for the villain’s emergence and they look so cool. Reds come back to the forefront on the book’s final page to show a young threat. Overall grade: A

The letters: Scene settings, dialogue, editorial notes, whispered dialogue, sounds, newspaper text, and a phone conversation are under Saida Temofonte’s control. I loved the scene settings for their bold font and the highly stylized first letter that looks ancient. I’m impressed with how much dialogue Temofonte can place in a panel without drowning the illustration in text. The whispered dialogue is in a lighter colored font than regular dialogue giving it a quieter tone. The sounds are also good, with the Knight’s blade creating the best ones, even making me cringe at what they accompany. Overall grade: A

The final line: This is how to end a series: a big battle, a solid surprise reveal, and several teases of more adventures to come. I would welcome all the creators back for more. Sorry, Zenescope. This can’t be the last of Peyton’s adventures. I don’t want this to end! 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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