In Review: The Musketeers #1

The premise is established and the heroes are shown in action, so let the fun begin!

The covers: Nine covers to collect if one wants to have them all. The A cover is by Riveriro and Ceci de la Cruz and features all three leads well: in the foreground is Aramis, her sword in the reader’s face; next is Porthos, who has a fantastic smile on her face as she wields her sword, her cape whipping behind her; on the top of a car is Athos, holding his heavy sword on his shoulder. The characters look great, the colors are good, and I really like the city background behind them — and that moon is awesome! The B cover by Robert Atkins and Vinicius Andrade has me a little confused. Is this frontpiece showing Aramis and Athos robbing a bank?!? The female musketeer oversees a teller filling a bag with cash, while the male musketeer holds his sword to a guard’s throat to keep him back. Aren’t they supposed to be the good guys? An intriguing cover. Next up is the C cover by Keith Garvey which would qualify as the “Good Girl” cover. This features Aramis standing atop a building with a foggy city behind her. She cockily has her left hand on her hip as a breeze blows her leather jacket aside. She’s beautiful and the colors are great. Ario Murti and Hedwin Zaldivar have created a very classy D cover: a wanted poster showing each of the musketeers. The mug shots show Athos, unsmiling, Aramis, gleeful, and Porthos, serious. I love the clear look at these characters and the colors really makes this cover stand out. Art Nouveau returns to Zenescope with the E cover by Leonardo Colapietro. A golden silhouette of winged justice holds a staff in one hand and scales in the other that hold a balanced feature and cash. Within her is Aramis and Athos. In the foreground appears to be Porthos; I say this because of her hat. The layout and colors are beautiful. The Emerald City Comic Con Exclusives (limited to 350/100 copies) by Mike Krome and Ula Mos have Dorothy wearing a blue, tight crop top with matching short shorts. Cowboy boots are visible, though I doubt any reader is looking that low. Behind her is the yellow brick road leading to the Space Needle in Seattle, Washington. Very pretty. The more limited edition cover I couldn’t find, though I’m betting it features fewer clothes on the girl from Kansas. There are also Emerald City Comic Con Exclusives (limited to 350/250 copies) by Elias Chatzoudis, but, sadly, I couldn’t find them online. Good luck, collectors! Overall grades: A A, B C+, C A, D A+, E A+, and Emerald City Comic Con Exclusive Krome A+

The story: Conceived by Joe Brusha and written by Terry Kavanagh, this is a really fun first issue. The book opens with the musketeers in action fighting a cornucopia of creatures. Winter Sudam has unmatched stealth, athletic ability, and speed. Diego Garcia is an unstoppable powerhouse. Carmen Alexander is a swordswoman extraordinaire. All their abilities are on display as the battle the monsters, until Carmen makes a move that puts the other two musketeers in danger. Thankfully, Morgan Fay, newly minted mistress of magic, and Merlin, timeless master of magic, stop the fight. Their mission is stated on the pages that follow and off they go, with Merlin remaining behind in Camelot. On Earth, there’s a quick tease of two famous characters at Arcane Acre, before moving to Philadelphia in the office of Victor Diamond. What happens there is exciting, with Carmen making a really funny catch phrase on Page 11. After the action, their mission is furthered. It’s after this set up that things get really interesting, with the character dynamics introduced, leaving me wondering what’s going to happen when they’re not fighting villains. The final three pages of the book have some solid surprises, with the one in the final panel exceptional — I did not see that coming! The action is good, the premise interesting, and the characters full of possibilities. Overall grade: A

The art: Daniel Mainé is the book’s artist. He gets to open the book with a massive fight scene to showcase each of the musketeers using their unique talents and the reader can easily discern what they are. The first page is splash showing a menagerie of creatures attacking the trio, while in the distance Morgay Fay and Merlin watch. The heroes are good, the monsters good — with those flying creatures stand outs, and the faraway watchers. I had some concerns with those watching from castle, because it’s difficult to make them out, granted they are from a distance. Porthos is very graceful in her movements and her costume really increases her motion, with the cape completing her actions. Athos is indeed the strongest as he’s shown lifting the largest of creatures over his shoulders. Aramis’s face is the best drawn of the threesome and she certainly is the most expressive. The last creature that arrives to fight them is awesome. Camelot is a great setting and I’m hoping that the action returns here soon. The two pages devoted to Arcane Acre are great, with some very cool panel layout on 7. The visions that are looked at on 8 are also very good. The fight sequence that begins on 11 has some odd inking: things in the foreground are really heavily outlined, with some interesting shading on the characters’ faces. The middle panel that spreads across 12 and 13 is great, but the coloring hurts the imagery. The pencils within the apartment where the heroes spend the night are really thinly inked, making the change in visuals noticeable; however, the final two panels that involve leftovers and a reaction look incredible. The last page is excellent, with the final panel being a great shocker. Again, though, the colors have got to be lighter. Overall grade: B

The colors: Distant objects are getting a computerized lightening and it does not look good. It’s first noticeable in the first panel on 5, with the bottom of the creature getting an unnecessary lightening; I actually thought I was looking a printing error until I saw this effect appear on other pages. Bryan Valenza is doing a decent job on this book, but that distant fading and pages that are too dark make it difficult to see the visuals hurt. The major battle in the middle of the book is too dark on the splash page that starts it and doesn’t improve until the background goes orange and red, though the panels that follow that go too dark again. The pages that follow are fine, with the colors appropriate for the locations, allowing the reader to see the art clearly. The final page is too dark again. Sadly, it does diminish the effect of what’s revealed. A comic book is always allowed to cheat on the coloring. If the colors obscure the art, they’re not helping the book. Overall grade: C

The letters: Taylor Esposito of Ghost Glyph Studios does his usual outstanding job on the book’s text. He creates dialogue, sounds, names of characters and scene settings, explanations to accompany the names, yells, text on a phone, whispers, and the tease for next issue. The new font used to identify characters is flashy and classy, a perfect match for the musketeers. The variety of yells is also great, with the size and shape of the letters clearly showing the reader how loud a character is. It’s the sounds on this issue that are the real visual treat. The tussle in the middle of the book has some spectacular sounds, starting with the best gunshots I’ve seen in a book outside of a Shadow appearance. Overall grade: A+

The final line: The premise is established and the heroes are shown in action, so let the fun begin! I like these characters, I like the twists on the final pages, and the visuals are fine. Brighter colors would improve the art. It’s got everything you want in a comic, with some very engaging heroes. 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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