After more than a full month of delays, "Charmed" is finally back in comic stores, with Issue #4, subtitled "Mortal Enemies", which as we learn in the book has a double meaning.
No "previously on" this time, as we jump right into the story, a split page between the underworld and the manor. In the manor, Paige and Phoebe are taking care of their mortal innocents, while the magic-wielding ones are with Leo at Magic School. In the underworld, the Source is using Hogan's discord power to turn all mortals against the Charmed Ones, and as Paige and Phoebe go upstairs to the attic, we see that playing out in the eyes of the innocents.
Meanwhile, Piper is scouting locations for her new restaurant (something that had been mentioned in the series finale). After a couple pages of bad locations, she finally comes across the right one, and that's when her real estate agent attacks her, falling under the discord spell.
Back in the manor, the mortals are restless downstairs, so Phoebe and Coop go to investigate, leaving Paige with Henry. Henry tries choking Paige to death, but she's able to tele-orb a lamp into his head, knocking him out. Phoebe and Coop run back up to the attic, escaping the horde. Piper is in a knock-down, drag-out fight with her real estate agent, who seems to be getting more powerful as the fight goes on.
Back in the underworld, The Source is ready to make his next move, leaving Hogan and Neena behind to work on "more important things" (bolding from the book itself). Phoebe, Coop, Paige and Henry have retreated to magic school, where Henry is free from the spell, and feeling guilty for what he did, but Paige doesn't want to talk about it.
Piper is frantically driving home, with the whole city out to get her. She gets to the manor and sees all the possessed mortals, but before she can even get worried about that, The Source shows up -- right as Paige and Phoebe orb in. The Source re-introduces himself to the Charmed Ones (new form and all, and does a little fireball tossing, which Paige eventually blocks with her orb shield. As The Source tosses an enormous fireball at the girls, Piper uses her power to melt the street, holding The Source in place long enough for Paige to orb them back to Magic School (narrowly avoiding the huge fireball).
Back at Magic School, the ladies fill the guys in on who's back, then stand resolute in their determination to put an end to The Source of All Evil... for good.
Before getting to the story, let's address the big change on this issue: Dave Hoover is out as the artist, replaced by Marcio Abreu (colors by Milen Parvanov). It's a jarring shift in styles, and I really want to reserve judgement on Abreu's work until I see more of it. It may be that Abreu's style feels more "pencil-y" than Hoover's smooth lines, but through one issue, I feel like something's missing. To be entirely fair to Abreu, he didn't exactly get a full time lead-up on this issue, and I had my problems with Hoover's art in Issue #1, before he settled into a comfort zone in #2 and #3. It's entirely possible that as Abreu does more issues, he'll get better.
What's interesting is that on his own site, he's got an image that shows him nailing the likenesses of Alyssa Milano, Rose McGowan and Holly Marie Combs, but that skill didn't quite translate to the issue (again, possibly reflected the rushed timeframe after the series changed artists). Also, the likeness issues on the men in the series (Henry, Leo, Coop) are back in full force, though that was a persistent problem with the Hoover-drawn issues too. Lastly, Piper's real estate agent seemed pulled directly out of the pages of Zenescope's "Grimm Fairy Tales" series, which isn't a surprise since Abreu's done work on that in the past. The guy's got talent, that's clear, and hopefully with more experience with the characters, that will shine through.
As for the story, I thought Leo's point about them having vanquished The Source's demon form, but not The Source itself, made sense. If they really had eradicated The Source of All Evil in Season 5, then where was all that evil coming from in Seasons 6, 7 and 8? It's nice to see that while building a new story, the comic continues to acknowledge the past and build upon it rather than treat the comic as a different entity.
Seeing Piper looking for restaurant locations was nice too, both as a nod to the series finale and to her character's roots. While P3 was successful, it never seemed to fit Piper's personality, whereas a restaurant is more her style.
There were two moments in this story that were left to be dealt with later, and I hope the series doesn't forget about them. The first -- the "more important things" scene with Neena and Hogan -- is the more likely to be resolved at some point, though I do find it a little strange that two low-level demons would essentially be treating The Source as a distraction for The Charmed Ones so they can do something bigger. What's more interesting to me is the Henry-Paige interaction after Henry, under the influence of the discord spell, tried to kill her. Henry's guilt, though seen only briefly, reminded me of how Wesley acted after attacking Fred in the "Angel" episode "Billy". Even though he knew it was a spell (or supernatural influence), he blamed himself.
Now, with Issue #4 finally in hand, we can start to get ready for Issue #5, which is scheduled to come out in just three short weeks, and is supposed to wrap up the first arc. I don't want to speculate too much on the content of that issue, but I will be disappointed if the showdown with The Source gets wrapped up this quickly.
Previous Issue#3, Innocents
#5, Unnatural Resources