Sunday, August 29, 2010

Charmed Comic Review, Issue #2

First things first. This issue -- which hits stores on Wednesday -- starts with a "letter" from Paige that recaps the first issue (and the Issue #0 prequel) and breaks the fourth wall a little bit. I know some fans might be upset by the fourth wall breaking (Paige specifically referring to issues and the letter being a recap) but I thought the whole thing was really in tone for the character and was nice since a lot of fans might have missed the first issue.

Also, on the first actual art page, we get 100% confirmation of a time frame for the comic: one-and-a-half years after the events of the series finale. That page also features a continuity error carried over from the series. It's a splash page of the exterior of Halliwell Manor, and just like the house used for exterior shots in the show, there's no visible attic. I actually enjoy the fact that they didn't change this for the comic, even though they could have.

As the issue begins, Piper and Phoebe are preparing to attend a funeral, and Phoebe is making inappropriate jokes, about both the funeral itself and Leo. I had actually forgotten about Phoebe's earlier attraction to Leo way back in Season 2 (before Leo and Piper were an item), and her dialogue in this scene felt like THAT Phoebe -- which was a little weird, since this is supposed to be Season 9+ Phoebe, albeit one who still dresses more appropriately than she ever did on the show.

Meanwhile, Paige is meeting her new charge, a 19-year-old boy who is reluctant to believe he's a witch (and gets caught up in the terminology in a scene that both serves as humor and an introduction to "Charmed" structure for readers who weren't fans of the show). I still don't like that Paige has gone back to her lighter hair color, but there were moments in this scene where she at least bordered on Rose McGowan-esque, which is an improvement from issue #1.


OK, now to the meat of the issue. Our two "demons of the week" are in the underworld, talking to some mystical smoke which is clearly more powerful than both of them, but needs them to do some things before it can return to full power. That of course turns out to be linked to the funeral, which is actually for Brittany Reynolds, the first innocent Prue, Piper and Phoebe saved way back in "I've Got You Under My Skin". Well, at the funeral, Phoebe has a vision that Brittany is aged unnaturally, just like what happened to her in the episode. It's a closed casket, so Piper freezes everyone and looks inside and, hey, Phoebe was right.

The cool thing about this scene was that it was set in the rain, and artist Dave Hoover did a great job capturing the difference between the falling rain and the frozen rain. One of my biggest concerns going into this series -- aside from the post-Season 8 story itself -- was how the artist would be able to depict the Charmed Ones powers, since freezing (or molecular manipulation if you want to be accurate) doesn't look all that different from any comics page, and orbing relies heavily on special effects. In fact, on the next page over from the frozen rain, there's an orbing effect with Paige and her new charge that just doesn't quite work (Paige also looks like she's suffering from the effects of her magical breast enhancement from "Hell Hath No Fury" in that panel too).

Paige is explaining to her new charge that this is an important time because he has to pick a side, good or evil, and he can be tempted, which is why he needs Magic School. The visual of the portal to Magic School was really cool, but this whole scene was very expository for people who watched the show. We know all this, about the time period, the tempting, yada yada. Even when the two demons show up right after Paige leaves, it's not really that surprising (well, at least until the end, but we'll get to that).

Piper and Phoebe do some research (WOO! Book of Shadows!) and then Phoebe gets a massive premonition -- someone or something is going after every innocent the Charmed Ones ever saved and every charge they've ever had. And that includes the new kid, who appears on a final splash page with his neck snapped. I honestly didn't see that coming. I figured there'd be at least another issue of him deciding between the Charmed Ones and the Demons, but this new evil force gets straight to the point.

On some level, this story -- the Charmed Ones having to face the same battles from their past -- feels a bit like a riff on the Season 2 premiere "Witch Trial", but with the twist of focusing on innocents rather than demons. It provides plenty of fertile ground for the series to grow on, and it actually could be interesting to see the Charmed Ones revisit the lives of some of the people they've saved.

With the burden of establishing where the Charmed Ones are in life lifted, this issue seemed to make a lot more progress than the last one, and definitely has me interested in picking up the next one.
Grade: B


Previous Issue
#1, Charmed Lives
Charmed #2
No Rest For The Wicca
Next Issue
#3, Innocents Lost

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