‘Mirror’s’ artwork is masterful–gorgeous, evocative, and playful in the form. For it alone is worth buying the issue. Add to that an emotional, compelling story of love, loyalty, and freedom, and ‘Mirror’s’ premiere earns a deserved spot on any discerning comic book reader’s pull list.
It’s been four months wait since we last got a Bitch Planet fix. Despite that length of time, issue #6 does not disappoint. In fact, it amplifies the sound and fury of issue #5, offering ironic contrast to the characters of the present narrative by flashing back to the time of their innocence before the Protectorate squashed their dreams of building a better world. Guest artist Taki Soma brings a delicacy of line to the story, emphasizing that hope is a thing with feathers, but also hollow, fragile bones.
Narratively trying to follow Black Magick from point A to point B to point C and beyond may give off the impression that Rucka and Scott are moving slowly with the plot, only inching it along. That type of reading basically ignores the forming of the characters that is happening on each and every page. Rucka, always an economical writer, let’s Scott’s artwork tell so much of the story here as she visually fills in all of the elements of a life that reveals character. Whether it’s a flannel t-shirt tied around her waist when she has to cast some protection wards around her house or the fire extinguisher that seems to be placed to satisfy some municipal ordinance in some secret, shadowy lair, Rucka and Scott are shaping real lives for these characters that exist beyond the boundaries of the comic page.
As the narrative of the final violent event plays out, the panels become more regular and more cinematic, mimicking the ratio of a theatrical widescreen. The chaotic action of the previous pages gets stripped down to reveal the horrifying realization of Meiko’s death. Once the guard does his evil deed, the story becomes entirely about the women’s responses.
This bravura issue is everything one has come to want and expect from the penultimate entry in a Rat Queens’ arc. All the pieces are now in place to have a truly climactic finale: backstories and secrets are revealed while new discoveries create ever rising action. The cliff-hanger and cover preview for January’s issue left me tied in knots.
As the violence ramps up to the issue’s conclusion, the action on the field and the layout of that action becomes more fragmented and chaotic. Faces are hyper-expressive, causing frustration, panic, and, in the case of Operative Whitney, smug enjoyment to leap off the page. A new layout presents a structural diagonal, as before intensifying the sense of tension and chaos. It also creates a disorienting zoom in, pull back effect, like a dolly zoom (or Vertigo effect) for the page.
If it wasn’t obvious before, the “Commercial Suicide” arc of WicDiv is about the personal tragedies of the Pantheon members. If the first half was about misogyny, it seems like the second half is about the personal choices of women. This becomes fairly obvious in the final issue of the arc, which is about Sakhmet.
Even if the narrative gets darker around the edges with the introduction of Mrs. Jones’ connection to a probably evil Siberian scientist and the general media storm, Huck #2 continues to be a study in optimism for Mark Millar and Rafael Albuquerque. Huck continues to help ordinary people in extraordinary ways even if he is surrounded by news choppers and random people. At this point, Orlov doesn’t quite fit into the story and is a throwback to Russian villain trope, but Huck #2 more than makes up for this slight hiccup with evocative storytelling, a hopeful tone, and the introduction of tension in the plot for this exemplary hero.
With David taking his bow and using the last of his power from Britannia, Phonogram: The Immaterial Girl #5 feels like more of an ending than anything else we’ve seen from the Phonogram series. As Emily and David’s story shifts more into the “present” of 2009-2010, we see the closest they might actually get to growing up. For David, it’s learning how to be a decent human being. For Emily, it’s accepting her death. Morbid as it can be, Team Phonogram creates a story in this issue that gives the characters room to do that without sacrificing who they are at their cores. With the groundwork laid and with Emily running out of time, the finale looks to be a heart-racer and a heart-wrencher.