The Unwritten #5
Tom Taylor doesn’t appear in this issue — instead, we visit a previous century and take a look at the life of British author Rudyard Kipling. We follow him as a young reporter in India, frustrated that he can’t tell the stories he wants to. He ends up making a deal, almost entirely by accident, with Mr. Locke, who tells him that he’ll arrange that Kipling will be able to spin his stories for the glories of British Imperialism. And Kipling’s books, like “Gunga Din,” “On the Road to Mandalay,” and “The Light that Failed,” enjoy uncommon success. He is disturbed when, after Locke expresses his disdain for Oscar Wilde’s work, Wilde is unexpectedly arrested and put on trial for sodomy.
On a tour of America, he meets Mark Twain, who warns him that Locke may be a dangerous man, and Locke later tells Kipling that he wants him to remain in America to chronicle America’s rise, instead of England’s decline. Kipling, ever the loyalist, refuses, and soon pays the price, as his daughter Josephine falls ill and is then murdered by Pullman, the seemingly immortal assassin. Unable to write for a year, Kipling eventually turns his attention to fables and his “Just-So Stories” — his own simple declaration of war against Locke and his cronies. But the world continues as Locke had predicted — World War I swallows England whole, and Kipling’s own son joins up to fight and is soon reported MIA. Desperate, he begs for his son’s life from Locke. Will the old fable-teller be able to pull off one last bit of literary magic?
Verdict: Thumbs up. A nice change-of-pace, and a nice look at the strange history of the world that this comic resides in. Kipling lived an interesting but tragic life, but I never saw him as a fantasy hero before. It’s a sad story, but a fun one at the same time.
Power Girl #5
A spaceship has crashed in Prospect Park, and Kara heads up for the apartment roof to change into her costume — hey! Is someone taking pictures of her? There’s gonna be trouble later. Meanwhile, the spaceship almost shoots Power Girl while aiming at a pursuing ship, and while she tears her way inside, the three beautiful alien women inside come out to meet the New Yorkers gawking at the ship. PeeGee meets up with a hunky male android just before the ship self-destructs. Something — possibly Power Girl herself — somehow contains the explosion, but she’s left severely injured in the aftermath. Luckily, she recovers fast once she gets a little sunlight. After bonding with emergency personnel, she returns to her company, where she learns the shocking truth about why her horrible, horrible cat changed color, interviews a new PR employee, and gets in the middle of a minor war between the three alien women and a space cop sent to apprehend them.
Verdict: Thumbs up. There’s a lot of stuff shoehorned in here, some of it a bit weird (Why did Power Girl forget her gloves and boots in the first battle? Was there a plot point behind it?). But there were a lot of cool moments, sometimes very small, sometimes a bit larger. The scene between Power Girl and Pete the fireman is really cute, the alien girls discovering hot dogs is funny, and getting PeeGee’s horrible, horrible cat washed is a small comedy miracle. As always, Amanda Conner’s art makes everything even better.
Hellboy: The Wild Hunt #6
Hellboy and Alice are in the castle of Morgan Le Fay. She tells them about Mordred, the son she bore for King Arthur. Though he died in the Battle of Camlan, and his three sons were killed, he had a daughter who escaped death, and who continued his bloodline through a long line of female children, culminating in a woman named Sarah Hughes, a witch who married a demon, died, and went to Hell to deliver the first male heir in the Pendragon bloodline in hundreds of years — a big, red-skinned guy with a stone hand who likes to file his horns down. In other words, Hellboy is not only the reluctant Beast of the Apocalypse, he’s also the rightful King of Britain. So Morgan gives him a choice — he can take the Sword from the Stone and lead an army of dead elves and fairies into battle, or he can let Nimue, former consort and betrayer of Merlin, destroy the world as the new blood-soaked Queen of the Witches. But Hellboy fears he is slowly becoming the demonic Great Beast — will he end up wearing both crowns at once? Is this just a struggle to decide whether Nimue or Anung un Rama will call an end to creation?
Verdict: Thumbs up. Very big stuff going on here — epic and apocalyptic in every sense of the word. Is Mike Mignola really getting ready to end his own comic-book universe?