Jim Butcher’s The Dresden Files: Down Town #5

Wizards do battle and readers are the winners. Highest possible recommendation.

The cover: Stjepan Sejic continues to provide covers for this series and this one has quite a bit of action. The wizard that’s been causing all the problems in this storyline yells in rage as his inner sanctum has been discovered by Harry and his apprentice Molly. One of Dresden’s rings is sparkling to life as he’s about to battle the bearded baddie, and Molly is being lifted into the air by the evil man’s monstrous golem, which is opening its maw to devour the young apprentice. Great layout with all four characters looking good with some really sharp setting work — the candles, the pipes, and the ceiling. The coloring is also good with those candles nicely bright and Harry’s ring drawing focus to him. A well done cover. Overall grade: A

The story: Facing the antagonist in his underground lair, Harry steps forward and says, “I’m giving you one chance to surrender and face trial before the White Council.” The unnamed adversary laughs, “If they’d done a halfway job of maintaining order, none of this would be necessary.” Feeling an attack by the old man, but unable to “completely cut loose” due to a non-magical hostage being held by the golem, Harry uses his staff for a force spell that does nothing to his opponent, who counters with a spell that causes all the debris in the room to swirl about him. Dresden is able to cast a protective shield around himself and he urges Molly on to complete what they came to do. Mouse lunges at the golem and is smacked back. This causes the creature to release its human hostage who runs. Molly should have gone with the man but fears for Mouse who’s lost among the rubble. As she digs to save the gigantic canine, she fails to notice the golem behind her raising its muddy fist to smite her. Only mob boss Johnny Marcone can save her, but is he close enough and would he take his pistol’s aim from the dark wizard to do so? This penultimate issue by Jim Butcher and Mark Powers has the villain revealing how powerful he is as he battles Harry. He is not a raving madman — though his motive for all the murders is still unknown — and he is very powerful. Page 7 shows how strong he is, though readers know Harry will find a way to stop him, I had not foreseen the action or line on Page 18. Morcone nicely proves himself useful with weapons other than a gun, but, again, I did not see what would happen on 12. Just when it seems all’s been solved, Butcher and Powers start a countdown clock for a final, more massive, threat. The final panel will put a gasp in every reader’s throat as they wait 30 days for the conclusion. Damn, this is good! Overall grade: A+

The art: This issue looks super on every page that Carlos Gomez’s skill graces, which is all of them. Right out of the gate things start strongly with a full page splash of the four heroes looking at the villain from this baddie’s point of view; Harry’s so close one could read the runes carved into his staff. In previous reviews I’ve said how much I’ve enjoyed Gomez’s candles in this series and Page 2 has him using them again for a magnificent visual against the medal and stonework of this underworld domain. When the evil wizard uses his powers it changes all of his previous appearances in this series as a borderline crackpot to a force to be reckoned with on Pages 2, 3, 7, 11, 12, and 16. This antagonist has a smart emotional transition on 12 that will stun and then make readers fearful. Molly looks great as well, looking worried at confronting this dark force and wearing her heart on her sleeve as she searches for Mouse. Marcone is the perfect form of over-assuredness on Pages 16 and 22. The set piece on 9 has been seen in earlier issues, but loses none of its horror in its appearance or contents. It’s wicked awesomeness, and those words sum on Gomez’s work on this book: wicked awesomeness. Overall grade: A+

The colors: There are three requirements for colorist Mohan on this book: 1, keep it dark in the underworld; 2, have magic be strong; and 3, don’t lose the visuals in the darkness. Mohan excels beautifully on all counts. The settings are dark with blues and greys to create the mood of this locale, yet when candles or magic is used they create gorgeous light shows: Pages 2, 3, 7, 9, 11, 13, 14, and 16. Flesh tones make characters stand out against the dark backdrops. Mohan doesn’t just slap on a blanket color, but shades each character’s skin with different colors to make them real, such as on 19. Molly’s hair continues to look marvelous with Mohan’s skills, and sounds are strong with their many shades. Excellent work. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Narration, dialogue, spell casting, sounds, coughs, and next issue’s tease are conjured by Bill Tortolini. I love that Harry’s narration has a different font than his dialogue and all the super sounds, such as FWWOOOSSH and THROK. Overall grade: A+

The final line: Wizards do battle and readers are the winners. I’m going to be sad to see this book end! Highest possible recommendation. Overall grade: A+

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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