In Review: The Musketeers #4

The team recognizes what side they're fighting on just as epic trouble arrives.

The covers: Five to find for this fourth issue of this new Three Musketeers. The A cover is by Drew Edward Johnson and Ceci de la Cruz and it’s a winner. Morgan is in the foreground, her arms posed as if she’s casting a spell and there are mystical symbols floating before and behind her. Also behind her is Merlin who’s monstrous hands are reaching forward with white energy sparking out of them. This is a great cover showcasing the villains’ magic. The colors on this are also great, with the reds in Morgan’s outfit providing a good contrast for the dark colors on Merlin. I really like this. Carmen gets the spotlight on the B cover by Robert Atkins and Ylenia Di Napoli. She looks great standing in the ruins of a castle, holding two swords, her cape billowing out behind her, and a wonderful tiny smile on her face. This is great. And the colors are terrific — she stands out in blue and the backgrounds look aged in brown and yellow. Outstanding. Accompanying this review is the C by Mike Krome and Ula Mos. This has all three Musketeers looking as though they’ve been caught in a moment of battling one another, though the stark yellow and white search light pounding down on them says something else may be occurring. I like the poses of the character and the composition of the illustration, but it’s not a very detailed piece. The final regular cover has the trio before the famous Philadelphia LOVE statue. I like when comics have their characters at real world locations and landmarks, but the characters seem a little off on this D cover by Sergio Davila and Sanju Nivangune. Athos is too short and the women look to be holding Steampunk swords. Their visages also don’t look right. This just isn’t working for me. The Heroes Con Exclusive (limited to 350 copies) is by Keith Garvey and features a long haired brunette woman wearing a turn of the century flight cap and goggles, a pink scarf, a leather jacket, a white halter top that’s straining at her bosom, and tight tan pants. She’s holding her jacket open to show off what she’s wearing and above her the Kitty Hawk flies. The character is attractive and the layout is good. Overall grades: A A, B A+, C C+, D C, and Heroes Con Exclusive A

The story: This issue begins right in the thick of things as Athos is getting fired upon by several helicopters and plenty of men on motorcycles armed with guns. As he’s taking fire, he thinks about what got him in this situation, which brings the reader up to speed with the events of the previous issues. The men on motorcycles circle him and continue to fire. He grabs one and uses the man as a shield, granting himself a momentary reprieve. At this time he flashes back to a moment where he tells a group of people his age that the gaming start-up that they’ve been working on is dead. His employees tell him no, “Nobody’s ready to write you off yet.” He thinks about Winter who’s at home with her family. She’s sees a picture of her mother on the wall and makes an interesting comment, but is interrupted by a sputtering of light violet magic behind her. The same happens to Carmen in a location that she’s become well acquainted with. The story by Joe Brusha & Terry Kavanagh, written by Kavanagh, then returns to the present where Athos has to do something to get out of his situation. That’s when things get worse on Page 7. A surprising foursome arrives to assist him and that’s when things go epic. A familiar flying foe arrives bearing the big bad of the book on its back. I was surprised by the ability of the character at the bottom of 11 as I’ve never seen this character do this action, and I’ve been reading Zenescope books for over five years. There’s a solid moment where the title characters realize they’re not alone on Page 12; this moment looks to solidify this team as heroes, though they weren’t created to be so. The entrance on 15 is fun and it leads to some very classic Toho Co. moments. The solution to the team’s large problem is terrific on 20. An expected moment occurs on 21, because it has to happen to up the stakes of the final issue. There’s a fantastic moment at the top of 22 that surprised me and had me cheering. The ending sets up the climax that’s coming and it looks to continue the fun. Overall grade: A-

The art: Daniel Mainé’s first page to this issue looks great: Athos in the foreground, looking like a giant, taking several shots from an army of foes, and the men attacking him are great, with the helicopters looking particularly cool. The action of him taking one of the riders and using him as a shield is superhero gold. I like how the book is peopled with unique looking characters — no one looks like anyone else, which is impressive. Often artists will use generic looking characters to fill space, but Mainé doesn’t do that: just look at Page 3 and the characters that are ducking for cover in the closing city scenes. The settings are also impressive in this book: take a gander at the exterior and interior of Winter’s family’s house — it’s awesome! The emotions on the characters on the characters are also solid, such as Carmen on Page 5. Bodies and vehicles go flying on 6 and it looks amazing. I like the devastation shown on 7, but there’s a lot of empty space in that large panel. A different angle might have helped this. The entrance on 8 is a little crowded, having me stop my reading to try to figure out who I was looking at. Better is the point of view at the top of 9 which really shows the slight odds the heroes have for success. The full-paged splash on 10 is dramatic and powerful, which the story needs it to be. It is definitely a WOW moment visually. The ability that a character demonstrates on 11 is good, the actions on 12 neat, and the character close-ups on 14 outstanding. The vertical panel on 18 made my heart soar, reminding me of many a Godzilla movie. The fall and exit on 20 are fun. The next impressive exit is on 22, which is preceded by a a shocking action. The book ends with magic used on the heroes, but they’re not clearly seen, instead their backs are shown. This was disappointing. Overall grade: B+ 

The colors: Because the majority of this book is set at night, the colors have to be dark. Blues are used to create the night, but some cheating with the color scheme would have been appreciated. So much blue is used I felt somewhat lulled by the visuals as I read the book my first time out. Bryan Valenza does a fine job, but the blues were overwhelming. With exception to the faded sounds and traces from the gunshots, the page is bland in blues and browns. Better are the two pages with faded rose for action scenes. The pink and violets colors used to show something that appears before Winter and Carmen is really cool. On 6 it’s difficult to see the details in the art due to the blanketing of blue colors. The character that appears on 10 brings a welcome splash of color to the book and each time this individual appears it takes the reader’s eyes. This book has just very blasé colors. Overall grade: C

The letters: Narration and transmissions (the same font), sound effects, dialogue, yells, whispered dialogue, and the tease for the final issue are created by Taylor Esposito of Ghost Glyph Studios. I appreciate a letterer that differentiates narration from dialogue and when whispered speech is still readable, but tiny enough for the reader to realize what he or she is looking at. The sounds are really fun in this issue with them being visually perfect; for example, ZTTZ, FWOOOOSH, and ZZZZK. Overall grade: A  

The final line: The team recognizes what side they’re fighting on just as epic trouble arrives. A fun story with some solid art, though the coloring does make looking at the artwork difficult at times. I’m enjoying this team and want to read more of their exploits. Overall grade: B+

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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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