In Review: Insexts #7

Insexts is one of the best books of the year. Highest possible recommendation.

The cover: I must note before I begin, the cover image used in this review is not a bright as the actual cover. I was unable to find an image that was as dynamic as an actual, physical copy of the book, so be prepared for much, much brighter coloring. One one of workers from the House of Madame H greets potential readers on this cover by Ariela Kristantina. Her body may be that which gets men’s attention, but they should be looking at her face, which is partially covered by a golden mask. From that covering, blood is pouring from the eye sockets. She raises a drink to those who wish to see what she can bring them. Another great, creepy cover from Kristantina. In addition to the figure, the reader should look at the chair she’s in: it’s crawling with insects. Combined with the figure, this respresents Insexts‘ title well. The window in the background is also gorgeous with terrific shapes and colors. Horror, thy name is Kristantina. Overall grade: A+ 

The story: “Creeping Things” is the conclusion to the first arc in this series. All the heroes in dire straits, at the mercy of the Hag, who revealed her otherworldly self last issue. Lady Lalita Bertram holds dying Sylvia in her arms as the Hag raves behind her. “You have killed your companions, lady…laaady…You have reached and wanted, and grasped for things you could not hold…You were spiteful, dissatisfied, covetous…For such is the nature of women.” As Sylvia passes, a whip bearing many barbs flays the Hag’s back. Mariah has come to her lady’s rescue and she shelters her from an attack. Again, the Hag rails, “Women are for serving. Women are for f***ing. Women are for killing. Women are for dying. You are not the heroines. You are not a grand romance. You are an aberration. There is only one way your story can end–” and then someone is killed. This death is a shocking moment from Marguerite Bennett, but it is justified by a speaker on Page 5; as horrific as it is, everything said about this character is true. The result of this killing sparks a change in one of the heroines and she is seen in a form never before shown in this series. The dialogue that comes from the battle between this character and the Hag is outstanding with the lines that end the fight on 9 and 10 outstanding. If one were expecting this to be the end of surprises from Bennett, there’s an outstanding turnabout on 11 with a magnificent, though bloody, moment on 12. The final seven pages deal with the fallout from the battle with the antagonist. Page 14 is an extremely strong page to begin the coda, with a conversation between two characters packing some gut wrenching emotion; there is no violence, there is no gore, but there is something discusses that is still, sadly, occurring today. As the father of two daughters, Wow. After this moment, a character is buried, new paths will be taken, and one character…ah, that would be telling. A fantastic conclusion to a fantastic first arc. Overall grade: A+

The art: Beauty and horror are expertly created by Ariela Kristantina. The first panel of the book shows her wonderful ability to create Gothic imagery, as the surviving women of the bordello and one of the werewolves are held prisoner by the vines of the crumbling home, as Lalita cradles Sylvia, with the Hag too close to the pair. The close up of the Hag’s mouth in the third panel is a Lovecraftian nightmare and is in complete visual opposition to the characters of the second panel. The large panel on 2 is an explosive image, not just for the action that’s taking place, but for the size of the antagonist and the creature’s look, which is its first full reveal for this issue. The next shock is Page 4, which is a splash. This contains the death of a character and it is a grotesque moment because of the creature. As a character cradles this now-dead individual to the ground, it is illustrated in the most loving style. Yes, there’s blood, there has to be given what’s taken place, but Kristantina has made this moment so full of emotion it’s impossible for the reader not to feel as heartbroken as the characters. The transformation that starts 6 is as terrible to look upon as was Page 4; a body should not be able to do that, yet it does. The full paged splash on 7 is magnificent. The design of the character is exceptional, and I spent a good time taking it in, trying to discern every aspect of this individual. This is exactly what this type of character should have a reader do; but if a reader were to linger too long, he or she may become a victim. The battle is brief, gory, and very satisfying. The story then has another character die, but not in the way a reader would expect, and the lead up to this death is great, with the second and final two panels on 11 excellent portents of things to come. As delicious as the shocking scenes were, it’s 14 that will be remembered by readers; Kristantina perfectly matches the text, with one character’s gesture in the final panel provoking a similar response in me. 16 has a beautiful setting as two characters part, with Kristantina again combining the ancient and the beautiful. This setting is revisited on the final page, which is a splash. What a beautiful final image. Overall grade: A+

The colors: Jessica Kholinne also does a terrific job on her second issue of Insexts. The first panel has the colorist using a sickly, moldy green for the interiors of the now hellish setting, the characters are strongly colored to have them stand apart from their surroundings, while the characters in the foreground are dark, so as to keep them hidden from the reader until the second page. The rusty coloring on the Hag’s close up is the perfect way to make this character demonic, while the pinks of Sylvia’s flesh show her to be full of life, which is deceiving considering her fate. The violets used on the second page give an unearthly air to the proceedings and the crimson used for the blood is the perfect horrific splash for the action that occurs. Take note of the background color in the final three panels on Page 3; this foreshadows the ghastly event that occurs on 4, which has the background turning a vivid orange-red to intensify the art. The lime greens used for the character on 6 and 7 are beautiful. I love the mixing of beautiful imagery with the horrific and the colors do that in this book. With evil vanquished, the colors become warm, endowing the characters with a strong life force. The pinks and greens on 16 and 20 are a wonderful, fanciful flair to the visuals. I’m hoping that Kholinne continues on this book in future issues. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Scene settings, dialogue, dying words, sounds, yells, screams, a song, and the tease for the next story are crafted by A Larger World. The scene settings are constant visual reminders to the reader of the time period of this tale and they look fantastic. The yells and screams, and there are several, suit their dramatic moments and put the required punch into the story. And the song lyrics look as beautiful as they must sound. Overall grade: A+

The final line: Outstanding story. Outstanding art. Insexts is one of the best books of the year. Highest possible recommendation. 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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