Now, with that said...
The issue starts off with Phoebe at work, taking a break to work on her book. Her friend Mika comes in and Phoebe asks about the guy she's been dating. She says its Cal Greene, and Phoebe flashes back to her trip to the future in which she was burned at the stake for using her powers to kill Cal Greene. Mika wants Phoebe and Coop to join them on a double date, while Elise wants to talk about the live web chat Phoebe is supposed to be having later.
Back at the manor, Phoebe talks with her sisters about Cal Greene, recalling her trip to the future. They all discuss how their lives are very different from what they saw (or, in Paige's case, didn't see, since she wasn't a Charmed One back then), and Phoebe decides she needs to go to the dinner to find out more about Cal. Phoebe spends the night flirting with Cal to try and read something off him with her empathy power, but she gets nothing.
Sensing that Phoebe's frustrated, Coop takes her to his temple in Italy, where he and Phoebe discuss the situation more. Coop has one of his messenger cherubs deliver a message, and they discover that while Mika and Cal are in love, it's not eternal. Phoebe is worried that means Cal kills Mika, but Coop, staying positive, points out that at least now Phoebe can break them up without interfering with true love.
Back in San Francisco, Phoebe does research on Cal in the newspaper's archives, and discovers that about a year ago, the paper stopped covering him. She confronts Elise about it, and Elise told Phoebe that around that time, a badly-beaten woman came to her wanting to tell the story of how Cal had beaten her. She urged the woman to go to the police first, but when the woman did, she recanted her story entirely. The paper continued to investigate, but Cal threatened to sue, and Elise was forced to back off. Then, Elise said she gave Cal's file to Mika as soon as she found out, and Phoebe rushes out to find Mika, who likely went to confront Cal.
Phoebe consults with her sisters on the phone, then finds Mika, who is crying because Cal started freaking out as soon as she confronted him with the truth. They both go to Phoebe's office to prep for the webcast. Paige and Piper meet them there, and just as Phoebe's talking about Elise's webcast from the previous week, Phoebe gets a premonition of Elise's funeral. She realizes that Cal is going after Elise, and the sisters all head off to try and stop him.
They arrive just as Cal is leaving and Piper freezes him. Phoebe uses her empathy to feel Cal's rage, and she realizes that when she killed him (in the trip to the future), she reflected his emotions back on him and overloaded his brain. They then find Elise, who is barely alive. Paige heals her, but Phoebe still wants her revenge. Rather than attacking him, they set up a fake webcast where Paige -- glamoured as Cal -- attacks Elise live on the internet, which requires Phoebe to tell Elise the truth about who she is. Back in the manor, Phoebe wraps up what she was writing -- her story about trust -- while spending time with her family.
This is my favorite issue of the series so far, and I think a large part of that has to do with it being a standalone, single-sister focused issue. The first arc was good, but each issue built upon the previous one and planted seeds for the next one, whereas this one is a "get-in-and-get-out" experience. And while having seen "Morality Bites" is pretty much a prerequisite for this issue, Paul Ruditis does an admirable job filling in the blanks for readers without coming across too expository.
The issue has the difficult job of adjusting the "Morality Bites" future to the events that occurred in between the episode (in Season 2) and the issue (post-Season 8), most notably Prue's death and Paige's arrival, and it does so well. It definitely helps that "Morality Bites" focused on the aftermath of Phoebe's murder of Cal, while this issue focused on the build-up to it, but it seems like a relatively seamless transition, given everything that's changed in the "Charmed" universe since 1999.
Speaking of that, we also got some nice background on Phoebe and Coop. When the series ended, they had pretty much just started dating, and by the time the comic picked up, they were married with a kid, so there were obviously some holes to fill in there, and this issue started that process.
With all the things I liked about the writing, I actually liked the artwork in this issue more; it's incredible. Tess Fowler's likenesses for the three sisters are easily the best we've seen from any of the artists on this series so far, and her panel of the battered victim is scarier than any demon we're ever going to see in this series. I also loved that in the dinner scene, she remembered to draw Alyssa Milano's tattoos on Phoebe. It's that kind of attention to detail that separates a good artist from one who does enough to get by.
I did think that in that dinner scene, Cal's smile was a little too big, but that's probably more to convey that he's hiding something behind the smile than just an artistic oversight. Unfortunately, Fowler is just a one-time artist at this point, though I'm hopeful Zenescope will bring her back to work on this book more often, since it's clear she's familiar enough with the characters to handle their nuances (I thought the clothing choices for each sister looked more like what we would have seen on the series than anything we saw in the first five issues).
Now a new story arc begins next month with "The Heir Up There", with Marcio Abreu slated to return to penciling duties.
Previous Issue#5, Unnatural Resources
Morality Bites Back
#7, The Heir Up There