In Review: The Musketeers #2

A surprisingly average Zenescope book.

The covers: This issue’s foursome of covers begins with the A by Igor Vitorino and Kyle Ritter. Aramis, Carmen Alexander, gets the sole focus on this cover. She’s holding sword-gun combos, with one of the weapons pointed off to her front right. Her jackets spreads out behind her very fashionably. Aramis looks like a giant as she stands among the city’s skyscrapers, her lower legs and feet hidden by a fog that’s moved in. The character looks great and city very cool. The coloring really makes this pop, as the sinister reds used for the evening sky and the cool blues of the fog make for a great combination. Robert Atkins and Ivan Nunes have created the B cover which features Diego Garcia, Athos, hanging from a moving police helicopter. An officer has the door open and is firing at the hero, though he looks up with a smile on his face. Some good details in this image with the Musketeer looking good, especially with the work done on his costume. The copter also looks good and there’s a solid background on the illustration. The coloring brings this to life, with the blades on the vehicle and the city looking swell. The C cover by Alfredo Reyes and Ylenia Di Napoli focuses on Winter Sudam, Porthos, as she raises her sword high as though saying, “En garde!” She has her left hand on her hip and her right leg is slightly before her left, suggesting that she is about to strike. Her cape and hair billow behind her beautifully. The city looks good and the moon is superb. Nice coloring on this brings the focus to the character’s face and her beautiful blue cape. Very nice. The final cover is the D by Caanan White and Ceci de la Cruz. This has the trio leaping from atop a building down upon the unfortunate reader. Porthos is in the center, with a sword and pistol pointed forward. The look on her face states that’s she about to enjoy what is soon to transpire. To her left is Aramis, who has two longswords held high as she falls to the ground. On Porthos’s right is Athos, wielding a pair of small axes in his hands. Neat point of view and good coloring, though the top of the image does seem a little wasterful as it’s mostly empty space, the top of the building, and bits of Porthos’s cape. Overall grades: A A, B A-, C B+, and D B

The story: Joe Brusha crafted this second installment with Terry Kavanagh writing it. Porthos has a rope around her waist as Athos lowers her into a museum. She’s trying to take a look at a gold bracelet that’s on display to see if it’s the Chariot Artifact of Tarot that Merlin has tasked her and her two teammates, Athos and Aramis, to acquire for him. As she’s lowered down she’s unaware that above Aramis is continuing to tease Athos about not having sex with her. He gets a sad look on his face as he admits he can’t feel anything any more. Finally at the artifact, Porthos discovers that there’s no chariot etched inside it. Complicating things is the museum guard that’s been alerted to her presence because of the pair’s conversation above. Aramis disarms the guard and they’re off to their next destination, a bank. They break into the vault at night, set off the alarm, and are disappointed when they discover the security box they check does not contain what they seek. As Porthos and Athos speak, Aramis opens a different security box and takes out an envelope and hides it in her jacket. Outside are several police officers, so the team has to leave the hard way. There’s a fun action sequence that follows, though it doesn’t go as planned by their ally in the city. The story moves to Camelot where Merlin orders Morgan to go to the Musketeers to speed them with their search. One of the Musketeers realizes that their quest may not be for the right reasons, while a group of armed men are following them for a nefarious purpose. A quick cameo with Skye Mathers and Shang shows that the Musketeers are soon to have a visitor who wants to reclaim something that was taken from her. There’s a neat reunion on Page 21 and a good wrinkle in one hero’s personality on the final page. Some solid action with slow building of characters. Nothing major happens, but it’s enjoyable to read. Overall grade: B 

The art: The visuals on this book are okay, but sometimes the colors have the illustrations lost, bleeding into the backgrounds. This is shown in the first page of the book which is a full-paged splash by artist Daniel Mainé. The point of view on this is good, as it’s looking up at Porthos as she’s reaching down for bracelet that’s in the case. It’s supposed to be night in the museum, but it’s colored so darkly it’s incredibly difficult to make out her fingers. And from an gravity point of view, how is she keeping her cape upright as she’s being lowered in head first? A turn of a page has the art much easier to make out, with Athos and Aramis seen. The bottom three panels of the page focus on a recent painful event for Athos and Mainé sets it up well. Back in the museum, Porthos is shown upside down, yet that cape remains glued to her back. How is that possible? And with the ladies in action on 5, why is Athos frozen? Wouldn’t he be pulling Porthos up? He says so, but isn’t shown doing so. Her leap away from the guard looks good and the reason why the guard drops his gun also good. The entrance into the bank is fine, though their exit at the bottom of the page is surprisingly stagnant. I can understand why that sound effect is so large — it’s to hide the visual. The fifth page has a great establishment panel of the volume of police that are outside the bank to arrest them. Pages 6 and 7 have the ladies in acrobatic action and they look great, but, again, the colors make the characters hard to make out, especially Porthos. Page 10 nicely shows a villainous character and transitions well to another pair after something intimate has occurred. The one page that’s set at Arcane Acre looks outstanding, with Skye looking fantastic. The best page in the book is 18 as the reader can follow Porthos’s path as she avoids some home security measures. The remainder of the book is just okay. This was surprisingly average. Overall grade: C+

The colors: The colors are all over the place in this issue. Bryan Valenza colors the interior of the museum a violet which causes blacks and blues to become blurry. Also not helping are narration boxes in orange that use yellow letters; these are difficult to read. The sound effects in the trio’s escape are bright, as is an explosion. Cheating with reality should have been done to lighten up these pages so that the art could be more clearly seen. The hot pink-violet character really stands out on its page, giving it a very supernatural flair. The coloring on the faces on Page 13 are just not good. Look at the first panel — why is her face a splotch of different colors? The character in the second panel is also oddly colored in the face. I’m not understanding how the unseen light source is effecting them like that. Besides, they’re in their own apartment: wouldn’t it be understandable to think they’d turn on the lights? The final panel on 14 is a mess. The complete opposite occurs on 15 where the coloring is terrific with magical energies, though, again, the page ends with odd shades on a character’s face. The journey on 18 is colored excellently, with the character’s pants allowing the reader to follow the individual. The last page, set during the day, is the best colored page in the book, sadly. In a comic book colors never have to conform to reality, and that would helped the visuals considerably. Overall grade: C-

The letters: Taylor Esposito of Ghost Glyph Studios creates the narration, whispered words, dialogue, sounds, transmissions, yells, and tease for next issue. The sounds are really big in the action scenes and several of them cover the visuals considerably. Looking closely at what’s underneath them, such as the final panel on Page 4, this is a good thing. The POOMs and PNGs in the action sequences are really cool. Espositio also differentiates the dialogue from the narration, which is a telltale sign of an outstanding letterer. Overall grade: A

The final line: A surprisingly average Zenescope book. I’m enjoying what’s going on with the characters, but these visuals really need to step up. A change in coloring would help immensely. Overall grade: C+

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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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