In Review: Red Thorn #8

Absolutely wondrous to read! Highest possible recommendation.

The cover: A monstrous cloaked Couril looks down upon the Stepping Orc, as the smaller creature has come to get something from the larger, more powerful creature. All the while, hiding behind one of the giant’s stones, Thorn looks on while bearing the flag of this story’s origin. Terrific moody cover from Choong Yoon. The Couril is designed like a traditional wraith, but where the creature’s mouth is located kicks this into eerie areas. Plus the text that’s on the stone that Thorn is leaning on is pretty cool, but you’ll have to find a hard copy of this book to read it. Overall grade: A

The story: This was an incredibly cool change of pace from writer David Baillie. “Wicked Garden” opens with Thorn attending the funeral of a Red Cap. It’s a quick ceremony that leads to the demigod telling the Stepping Orc to bring him a locator spell. This starts the small creature on a serious of magical, creepy, and comedic journeys. The entire issue focuses on the Stepping Orc’s treks and what Thorn needs him for. How a Red Cap is created is shown on Page 5 and then the Stepping Orc uses it to go to Earth where he goes to his first destination. Whom he meets and why he needs this individual is very funny. Either a reader knows someone like the character the Stepping Orc sees or he or she is that individual. Naturally things don’t go as easy for the Orc as he thought and he has to do something unexpected. That unexpected task was previewed by Choong Yoon. Baillie makes this scene creepy and cool, with the top of 11 being fantastic. The story takes a neat turn on 15 with the return of character to check on his progress, which is staggering. Each page of this issue takes the Orc in terrific directions, but Thorn’s return provides the “Wow!” moment of the book. I love what Thorn is doing with his left hand as this scene progresses (And it’s nothing nasty!). Larger story lines move forward with the focus this month going to the seemingly most unimportant character. Absolutely wondrous to read! Overall grade: A+

The art: How is possible not to fall in love with Thorn when Meghan Hetrick illustrates him so finely on the opening page? He’s a gorgeous man and putting him in a kilt will only send his popularity into the stratosphere. As warm as this scene is, Hetrick gets to flip it by having Thorn go outside for the funeral ceremony. The setting and the occasion are somber. Back inside his dwelling, the scale returns to an epic scale with a fantastic point of view from the top of the second story looking down upon the title character. It’s on this third page that the Stepping Orc is established and he gets two slick emotional scenes that define him: panel four, which shows him submissive, and panel six, which shows him to be sneaky. And speaking of sneaky, the reader might be so absorbed by what the Orc is doing on 4 that details in the background could be missed. Take a gander at what Hetrick has included in the setting: it’s both cool and disgusting, with the contraption just behind the Orc in the final panel resembling something out of an Indiana Jones nightmare. I’ve avoiding revealing what Page 5 shows, but I will say that Hetrick creates just the right amount of paranoia in the final two panels. The character that the Stepping Orc has to visit has a great design, with subtle teases on his arms and chest, and his close up at the bottom of 8 terrific. 14 is a slick creeper of a page for what’s shown and what isn’t. My favorite images from this issue come with the character that Thorn speaks with in the climax: this truly is magic, both wonderful and deadly. I love this book’s look. Overall grade: A+

The colors: Giving Hetrick’s illustrations just the right kick are the colors by Nick Filardi. The opening splash is like the sun rising on a new day, and it is since Thorn is receiving a new piece of clothing. Look at the incredible change in colors done with his reflection in the mirror: outstanding work! The colors change to grim shades when the title character sets about his day. His shock of red hair has him sticking out in the gloomy environments, until the cool green of the Stepping Orc takes over. Red returns as a very important color when the Orc takes a Red Cap to journey to Earth. The two pages set in a basement are glorious in violet: an unexpected color, but one that makes the sequence magical. The pasty white flesh of the Couril makes the cloaked character deadly. However, as with the art, my favorite work by Filardi comes with the character that Thorn speaks with at the end. The coloring is grotesque, as befits the character, and there’s depth with the colors that make the individual seem endless. Terrific! Overall grade: A+ 

The letters: Story title and book credits, narration and dialogue (the same font), scene settings, a television edit, sounds, the unique speech of the Couril, and an animal’s utterances are created by Todd Klein. The opening title and credits transport the reader to a Gothic world before the story or visuals have been encountered. The Couril’s dialogue is different from all the other characters of the book, putting it above and beyond all else. Though I liked these elements, I do wish the narration had been in a different font from the dialogue; they’re differentiated by the shape and color of their dialogue balloons, but I would have preferred a different font — even italicizing the words would have been sufficient. Overall grade: A

The final line: This continues to be a book I look forward to each month. It takes me places I’ve never been with a compelling story and visuals that create wonder and fear. Highest possible recommendation, again. 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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