Normally with my Charmed comic reviews, I jump right into the recaps, because the issue has been out for a couple days. However, this is not the case with Issue #12, which is available in limited quantities at SDCC, but won't hit stores for a couple weeks.
So my recap and review are after the jump. Be warned, there ARE spoilers. If you don't want to know what happens, then don't read on.
Last chance to turn back...
Piper and Phoebe are in the attic. Sam has prepped their "whitelighter delivery service" to get everyone Up There, but Piper wants him to stay behind. Coop gets his old Cupid bow, while Henry looks over Paige's body. Paige's spirit is assembling the Warren witches.
Up There, the glowing balls have merged into one giant ball, and Neena is working her magic on it. Leo is still tied up, and Rennek is keeping (poor) eye on him. Piper, Phoebe and Sam orb in, and they decide to wait for the signal, but Leo takes action. He kicks Rennek away, then uses one of the darklighter arrows to break his shackles. Leo picks up Rennek's crossbow to fend off some demons, then tries to get into the area behind the big doors. Piper and Phoebe use this as their cue, and while they battle some demons, Leo gets in, surmising that their is some whitelighter left in him.
The Warren witches wait beyond the gates, and Paige hears an explosion. She has Grams open the gates for Melinda, and the Warren witches charge into the battle. Just before the sisters can get together, Neena reluctantly enters the fray. At that moment, Leo emerges with wings and a flaming sword. He takes out some winged demons, and Paige orbs Neena away briefly.
Sam, Henry and Coop arrive, with Henry carrying Paige's body. The sisters make Paige whole again. Neena returns, but Leo continues to take out demons, resulting in a standoff. Neena is angry that they're all ungrateful, because without her, they wouldn't exist. Neena continues to justify her actions, and Phoebe uses empathy to feel what Neena is feeling. Piper wants Phoebe to turn the emotions back on Neena, but Phoebe says that won't work. They move to plan B, binding Neena's powers. The Charmed Ones alone aren't powerful enough to do it, but all the Warren Witches together are able to pull off the spell. They then break apart the spheres, with help from Leo's sword. That changes Up There back to normal.
Piper asks Grams why Prue couldn't join them. Grams is evasive, but Patty pushes her to tell the truth. Grams explains Prue was resurrected, because she had yet to fulfill her destiny when she was killed. Piper asks if Prue is one of their kids, but Grams says she's not one of their daughters, but a stranger, because she was reborn before the sisters had kids. She won't recognize the sisters, but at some point, they'll recognize her soul.
The Angels of Destiny show up and say they'll no longer interfere, and neither will the elders. They also banish Neena to the under realm she created, where six months out of the year, she'll be allowed to be reunited with her beloved, as a compromise. Leo's new powers are here to stay, but he can hide his wings. Kyle and Paige say their goodbyes, and the sisters, their husbands and Sam leave.
As the Warren witches head back behind the gates, Cole appears from behind a column. He tells Patty she shouldn't have lied about Prue. He wants redemption, and Patty tells him what he needs to do: "Find my daughter, Cole. Find Prue."
As I said to Paul Ruditis earlier today, when first read the part about Prue, I was infuriated, but then I got to the end of the issue, and I was both shocked and thrilled. I totally bought into Grams's story, because while it sucked in-universe, it at least addressed the lingering Prue question with the outstanding licensing issues. But then the twist came at the end, and that's just juicy as all hell.
The issue was very action-heavy in the middle, which was a nice change of pace from some of the recent story and mythology heavy issues. I really loved the stuff with Leo, because I've missed him having powers. Some readers might feel the Warren line was underutilized, but they played heavily into the climax, and it's not like this is the last time we're ever going to see them. Plus, Ruditis made sure it was clear that the binding spell would not have worked unless all of them combined their powers.
The resolution of the Neena story was even ended with the possibility for revisiting, which is important because she's now such an important part of the mythology. Vanquishing her would have been a mistake.
While I loved the story, I wasn't as big a fan of the art. Dean Kotz does a good job with the big action pieces and double-page spreads, but there just seems to be something lacking from his likenesses. It's like they're lacking a quality that makes them pop off the page. You can easily recognize each sister fine, but there's a subtle way an artist can capture a character, and I'm just not getting that from Kotz yet. There's also still some weird toothless with the coloring, which was a problem in Issue #11 as well (though it doesn't appear nearly as often as it did last issue).
Overall, this issue brings a satisfying end to the Neena story, creates a natural tie-in with the future we saw in the TV series finalé (with the hands-off approach from the higher powers) and sets up some new scenarios for the next arc. I don't really think you can ask for much more.
Oh, and lastly, I do want to mention I love the Seidman cover for this issue, even if it is a little misleading. I also got the SDCC Witches in Tights exclusive cover, which has no tie-in with the issue at all, but serves more as a shoutout to Comic-Con. Paige fans will want to pick up the photo cover as well.
Previous Issue#11, Last Witch Effort
The Charmed Offensive
#13, Piper's Place