And so, the final curtain draws upon this, the most final of final acts in this long running series.
Bloody Bones has forced the students of Arcane Acre to go on the run, whilst Sela and Belinda search the Realms of Power for a weapon that will vanquish their eternal foe. Following last issues battle with the Kraken which cost Wulf his life and the burial of Violet, the crew are possibly at the weakest, at a time when they need to be at their strongest.
The twist of this issue lies in it’s structure. Pat Shand is able to use certain points of the present to extrapolate futures for the cast of kids. In doing so, Shand allows an element of forgiveness to come into play at the end of a life wasted by fear, a couple together and a knight on a quest for a better Wonderland. These elements add a level of texture to what is, at worst is a battle royale. Still, regarding the battle, there are key moments throughout that shouldn’t be missed. With so many plates to juggle, Shand does extremely well, showing the reader that there is a future, for some, and that they are not throw away characters. The action scenes are well structured with Ali trying to keep his betrayal secret in the midst of battle.
The artwork is done by committee, which readers of my reviews will know, drives me to distraction. However, here each artist is given a future story and as such, manages to show something different to the usual house style of Zenescope. Andrea Meloni is the artist for the main part. His work is consistent with previous issues, so you pretty much know what you are going to get. Luca Claretti provides the art for Ali’s future and is probably the piece that is most “out there” when compared to the usual house style, especially as there is a cartoony element shown in some of the faces of the supporting cast. I’m not saying it’s bad, it’s just different. Lance’s story is drawn by Salvatore Cuffari who goes for a more mature look to his pencils, providing a weathered look that matches both the character and the idea of this particular future. Mario Del Pennino covers off Mary’s flash forward with a simple “less is more style”, around the faces, with simple structures for the characters which again like Cuffari’s work, suits the environment we find her in. Colors for Lance’s and Mary’s story are provided by Valentina Cuomo, who shows the ability to change her style to suit the differing worlds. Finally, Skye’s flash forward by Roberta Ingranata is probably the most house style of the fast forwards, albeit with a darker look.
I was recently in my local comic shop, shooting the breeze and I discovered that they don’t stock Zenescope books, which goes to prove that there is possibly too much product out there for retailers to choose from. Retailers will always gravitate towards the big icon’s as those book sell and bring people into the store. Whilst I have not given this book or run the highest of scores over the past year, it has been consistent. Shand’s storytelling is a kind of throwback to earlier days, with long running storylines and threads carried over, rather than writing for the trade paperback. Despite the lack of love for Zenescope from the majority of the North East UK, I for one will miss looking through this book.
Thanks for the ride, Pat.
Writing – 4.5 Stars
Art – 4 Stars
Colors – 5 Stars
Written by Pat Shand, colored by Erick Arciniega, and lettered by Taylor Esposito.