Thursday, January 20, 2011

Charmed Comic Review, Issue #5: Unnatural Resources

Technically the fifth issue of the ongoing "Charmed" series -- "Unnatural Resources" -- was delayed by two weeks from its original ship date, but it arrives just over one month after the previous issue, so it's right on what would be considered a normal comic schedule. As for the issue, and what The Charmed Ones are going to do about The Source, let's get right to it.

RECAP


The Charmed Ones and significant others have fled to Magic School to figure out how to battle The Source. Piper, as always, has the answer: rather than just calling on the power of the Warren line, they'll use the power of "all white magic practitioners in the realm." Meanwhile the Source is attacking, trying to break through the magical barrier.

Luckily for The Charmed Ones, the demons who were at magic school before left a Phosphorus Cauldron behind, which is just what they need to contain all forms of magic, so Piper sends Paige off with the bowl.

Back in the underworld, Neena is mixing up something in a cauldron of her own, while telling Hogan to be patient and being cryptic about not being trustworthy.

At Magic School, Piper directs Phoebe to go through the Book of Shadows to take something from every spell, while Leo explains that Piper's molecular manipulation power (used to melt the street in Issue #4) won't work on The Source's golem form. Piper and Coop travel back to the attic, where Piper opens up about her history with The Source (and Prue) and retrieves Excalibur, while Paige continues her magical collections, including a visit to Billie -- who is told to just maintain her normal life and keep an eye on Darryl and family.

Phoebe continues working on the spell, while Leo fills in Henry on the situation with The Source. Piper returns, and tells Leo to take the kids back to the manor, as Phoebe finishes her version of the perfect spell. And Piper agrees it's perfect, leading back to the underworld, where Hogan and Neena are still bickering, while Neena perfects her potion.

In Magic School, the Charmed Ones and their husbands part ways, sending everyone away just in time, as The Source breaks in. A battle ensues, with Phoebe using a potion, Piper stabbing The Source with Excalibur and Paige tossing a bottle with the collected magic. With the spell -- "The Power of Three we now decree! The Power of Three will set you free! The Power of Three will DESTROY thee!" -- The Source gets exploded.

But... at the same time, in the underworld, Neena is casting a spell that unites the demons, vampires, darklighters, etc., to serve her needs, then appears to kill Hogan and says something cryptic about her origins (all along, everyone's assumed she's some kind of female warlock, but apparently that's not the case).

With The Source apparently vanquished, the Charmed Ones have returned to San Francisco, where Piper is showing off the new space for her restaurant. Grams drops in for a visit, and there are some cute little moments with the kids. As Piper, Phoebe, Paige and Grams walk off, Melinda orbs a teddy bear off a table and into her hands.

REVIEW:

I want to start with the last page, because it's just so damn adorable. I'm a sucker for babies with oversized stuffed animals, and even though the scene has very little to do with this issue, or even the greater arc as a whole, it makes the issue totally worth it.

As for the issue itself, it turns out the whole thing with The Source was something of a misdirect for both The Charmed Ones and the readers, and I liked that. Going back to The Source well always felt like something of a boring retread, whereas Neena is new ground (though I feel like the "unite the underworld" thing has been done to death).

There were a lot of subtle little references to "Charmed" past, most of which were good. However, the whole conversation between Piper and Coop about Prue seemed to come out of nowhere, and really only served to set up Piper's "This one's for Prue" line -- and that still came off as awkward. Considering the last four seasons of the show rarely acknowledged Prue's existence, it's weird to see her come up so prominently in a major fight.

During the departure of everyone but the Charmed Ones from Magic School, Tyler -- the firestarter from a couple issues back -- had a nice joke about Harry Potter, a sly acknowledgement from writer Paul Ruditis about the origins of Magic School on "Charmed". Also, sending Paige after the magical beings, when she was the one that got stuck dealing with them so often on the show, was a good bit of writing.

As for the artwork, well, it was my least favorite part of the previous issue, but I'm getting used to it. About halfway through this issue, I came to two realizations regarding Marcio Abreu's work.

First, his pencil lines are looser than I'm used to, particularly when it comes to creating a shadow effect. There's nothing inherently good or bad about the style, it's just different, and while it may appeal to some, I'm a big fan of tight line work (looking at Marcio's uncolored pencils on eBay, I do think that tighter colorization would help).

Second, because Marcio is going for a photo-realistic likeness match on the key characters, it stands out even more when he misses, compared to an artist that would go for a more stylized look. I think this issue had a lot more hits than misses when it came to the likenesses, but somehow that makes the misses stand out more. I will say that for the most part, his Piper and Paige look REALLY good, but I'm still not getting Alyssa Milano from his Phoebe. The one panel in which Billy appeared was a good likeness for Kaley Cuoco, and I thought there was a little more consistency from the husbands this month.

Of course, next month we get a different artist, for a one-shot issue, before Marcio is slated to return for Issue #7.


Previous Issue
#4, Mortal Enemies
Charmed #5
Unnatural Resources
Next Issue
#6, Morality Bites Back

No comments:

Post a Comment