In Review: The Musketeers #3

This is a great comic! Recommended.

The covers: Eight covers to collect, which are hopefully easier to acquire than a chariot wristpiece. The A cover is by Sean Chen and Ivan Nunes and it’s a terrific frontpiece. The Musketeers are all poised for action with their blades ready. Behind them is downtown Philadelphia. Completing the image is a giant bust of Manic, looking at them from the side with a slight smile. I love the heroes who have a small white outline around them to separate them from the background and each other. I love when artists do this and it looks great. Also looking good is the city. The colors are also tops, with the heroes brighter than the background, but I still cannot look away from Manic’s eye. The B by Anthony Spay and Jorge Cortes spotlights the, secretly, evil Morgan. She’s risen up before two policemen. Pale violet energy comes out of her hands to shock the security and disarm them. And take a look in the background — she’s making their squad car rise up as well! She looks fantastic, the officers good as they’re getting zapped, and the colors outstanding. Zenescope, can this pair get their own series, please? The cover to the C by Josh Burns is the illustration I chose to accompany this review. It, too, focuses on Morgan, who stares at reader, as though the use of magic is a sexual experience. She looks great, the emotion she has is creepy, and the colors outstanding. The violets coming out of her hand are terrific. The final regular cover is the D by Robert Atkins and Cece de la Cruz. This has the Musketeers running at the reader. The trio is inside the building that houses the Liberty Bell, with Independence Hall behind them. The heroes look fine, though Athos is pushed too far aside. The setting is great. The colors are also well done. I’m a huge Star Wars fan, so when I saw the Phoenix Comic Con Exclusive (limited to 350 copies) by Elias Chatzoudis I did a double take. This has a blonde woman (Carmen?) dressed as Jedi, holding a blue lightsaber in her right hand, with her left leg up to enter a landspeeder. She is gorgeous! She’s in front of the Lars homestead with one yellow sun visible in the pink sky. This is poster, print, and tee shirt worthy. WOW! I need this! Keith Garvey is responsible for the Calgary Comic & Entertainment Expo (limited to 250). This has a raven haired woman (Winter?) wearing a white fur half top, revealing some cleavage, white fox ears, white furry gloves, and matching furry white bottom. She looks at the reader as if she’ll attack them. She’s against a winter exterior, with snow on the ground and in the few trees. Calgary Comic & Entertainment Expo (limited to 350) by Derlis Santacruz with colors by Ula Mos features a woman with long white hair, cocking her head with attitude as she unzips her skin tight white suit, revealing she’s not wearing anything underneath. She also has ski googles on her forehead, but you’re not looking there, are you? The interior of her suit is red, with matches the Canadian maple leaf on the left breast of the suit. She’s against a snow covered backdrop that has an older house with broken wire fence. Nice. The final cover is the ZENBOX Exclusive (limited to 150) also by Santacruz and Mos. I couldn’t find a copy of this online, so good luck, collectors! Overall grades: A A, B A+, C A-, D B+, Phoenix Comic Con Exclusive A+, Calgary Comic & Entertainment Expo (250) B and (350) A

The story: Carmen Alexandra, aka Aramis, is conducting some evil business at Philadelphia’s City Hall. She’s meeting with Victor Diamond, a newly-appointed councilman. She stole a necklace from the Musketeers’ last outing, unbeknownst to her teammates. As Diamond examines the expensive item, she reaches around his desk and hits a secret button to reveal the entrance to a panic room filled with ancient, priceless works of art. Diamond’s personal guard wants to teach her a lesson for being too smart for her own good, but Diamond intervenes and decides to show her his true identity as Manic. She’s never heard of him and agrees to sell him the piece. Meanwhile, Diego Garcia (Porthos) and Winter Sudam (Athos) have learned that the chariot wristpiece they’ve been looking for is being held up at the customs warehouse at the pier…under Homeland Security jurisdiction. Winter adds, “Which means we have to get past highly-trained feds, and lots of ’em.” Diego suggests she pull up maps of the place while he contacts Carmen. Winter complains she can’t do that. “I’m a game coder, not a hacker.” Morgan appears from the shadows and touches the hero’s computer screen, allowing Winter access to the information she needs. In the room next door, Skye Mathers listens in to the conversation while speaking to mentor Shang. Upon hearing from Skye, he hurriedly puts on his coat and says, “As Guardian of the Nexus, you have great power, but still lack understanding. Don’t do anything until I get there. From my experience, a Morgan means a Merlin. And a Merlin means me.” This story by Joe Brusha, written by Terry Kavanagh is the best yet. One of the heroes seems to be working for the bad guys, the team has finally located the bracelet, and starting on Page 5 a terrific action sequence begins. I like how quickly the reader is brought up to speed with the series’ premise, but it’s not rushed, and how quickly the action begins. How the trio escape the overwhelming numbers of agents is smart and incredibly awesome. I was surprised by where the story went after this with a great action sequence in the skies. I had forgotten about the individual that appears on Page 10 and was thrilled by what the character does. I was impressed with the action at the bottom of 13 as well as a character’s reaction to it. I was happy to see the trio still has issues with each other, as shown on 18, but the last two panels of the book — WOW! That came out of left field. It’s not an earthshaking cliffhanger, but a definite moral one. Action and drama done fantastically! Overall grade: A

The art: Daniel Mainé is the artist of this issue and his work looks great. The first panel that shows city hall is fantastic. Aramais’s introduction is a close-up of her eyes with her mask covering her lower face — a good tell to the reader that she’s on business. Slate’s introduction has him standing silently with his arms crossed, informing the reader that he doesn’t like this masked woman. Diamond looks like a generic older pencil pusher, which is perfect, for when he reveals his true face it’s a twisted visage in a permanent snarl. I like the emotion on Winter at the end of 3 that shows her annoyed. This is countered by the great look of surprise at the start of Page 4 when Morgan appears. Skye only appears in two panels in this issue, but she looks beautiful and deadly. The reveal in the third panel on 5 is awesome and the two panels that follow are perfect. I like the panel that stretches across the top of 6 and 7, showing every characters’ predicament. The bodies caught in the element on 8 are perfection as they’re tossed about in every direction. The character introduced at the bottom of 10 is great — it’s a great surprise considering what was shown before the individual is revealed. The close-ups of the characters from this point on look amazing: they remind me very much of work by Howard Chaykin and Mike Vosburg when they were illustrating American Flagg! The action of the third panel on 12 is cool, as is the unusual spell in the fourth panel. The three middle panels on 15 are awesomeness, showing a character completing a fast action. Carmen and Winter’s faces on 16 look great. I also really like the 1920’s look of the setting on this page. I really like the first two panels on 17, which tell the reader what’s occurred to someone without needing the text, though one should really read what’s stated. The action in the third panel on 19 is a good surprise, with the action in the next panel perfect. The setting on 20 is utterly brilliant. WOW! I want this location to come back and see a lot more of it. The anger in the penultimate panel on 21 perfectly captures the character’s wrath. Mainé knocks this issue out of the park. Overall grade: A

The colors: I also like the colors on this by colorist Bryan Valenza. The shading done on the characters’ clothes on the opening page immediately show the reader that the colors on this book will great. The colors used to show the magic that Manic uses to reveal his true self is very subtle and cool. Very natural, in fact. I like the dark setting for Winter and Diego, with the computer screen and cellphone being appropriately bright. Morgan’s hot violet attire makes her an instant eye catcher whenever she appears. The sounds when the action begins explode off the pages in bright colors, making them sound incredible. The crimson on the character that appears on 10 has this individual really stand out. The tans and browns in the setting on 20 and 21 gives it a classic look that give it a Jazz Age flavor. Notice that when the character exits at the bottom of 18 the individual is in shadows. This is repeated on the final page of the issue. I was really impressed with the coloring done on 20 and 21, with things obviously in the dark, but not so much so that elements in the art cannot be seen. Valenza did a terrific job. Overall grade: A+

The letters: This issue’s text is by Taylor Esposito of Ghost Glyph Studios and has this master letterer creating narration and editorial notes (the same font), dialogue, sounds, whispers, yells, screams, and the tease for next issue. Having the narration and the editor’s notes in the same font is fine, since the latter is much smaller than the narration, so it didn’t bother me. I was happy to see that Esposito has the narration and the dialogue differed, which I’ve come to see as a sign of a great letterer. The sounds, yells, and screams are fantastic in this issue, with there being plenty of them. My favorite is the yell at the bottom of Page 10, which is exactly how such an exclamation should be rendered. Overall grade: A+

The final line: The best issue yet in this series! Surprises from heroes abound with two terrific action sequences. I like how the plot is progressing, the heroes are growing (or falling apart) as a team, and the chief antagonist is losing his patience. All this, plus Skye and Shang waiting in the wings. The visuals on this issue were great, showing terrific action sequences and outstanding characters emoting. This is a great comic! Recommended. 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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