Thursday, September 08, 2011

Charmed Comic Review: Issue #13 - Piper's Place

(For those familiar with my Charmed comic reviews, you might notice a new format this time around. It's designed to focus more on the "reviewing" part and less on just re-hashing the contents of the issue.)


PLOT SUMMARY

Piper is getting close to opening her restaurant, but there's still plenty of work to be done, even just a day before it opens. Between her work with the restaurant and her duties as a Charmed One, she's barely had any time to spend with her family. Wyatt, her eldest son, thinks he has a solution when he goes to the Book of Shadows and finds a multiply spell, which he used to conjure up multiple fake Pipers (I'm calling them Fipers) . The next morning, Piper is obviously concerned by the situation, and her sons denials, but decides to take advantage of it. Real Piper gets coffee with Phoebe, but when she goes off to the bathroom, another Fiper shows up and heads off with Phoebe. Real Piper goes to her restaurant, where she encounters two Fipers instead of one, thinking no one stayed home with the kids. Real Piper calls Phoebe, and they quickly figure out that there are way more Fipers than they had previously thought. We see what some of them are up to -- including a trio disciplining Wyatt and one seducing Leo -- while Real Piper begins to feel adverse effects from the spell. Paige rounds all the ones at the restaurant up into Piper's SUV, Leo fends off the seductive Fiper and everyone meets up at the manor, where Real Piper apologizes to Wyatt for not being around, then gets him to undo the spell. The restaurant opens successfully that night, with a completed painted sign (a running joke through the issue) showing off the name -- Halliwell's.

REVIEW

Covers

There are two covers for this issue, the David Seidman art cover and a Piper-centric photo cover. The Seidman cover, showing Piper holding one of her children and balancing seemingly her entire life in the other hand, does a great job of setting up the core conflict of the issue in one image, while also not giving away the multiple Piper twist. The only thing that bugs me about it is from a distance, the piece of laundry that's draped over Piper's head looks like poorly-matted hair. It's just weird, but not a dealbreaker. The photo cover is stunning, as always, and I wish someone was getting specific design credit for these, since they're much more than just cropping a photo and slapping a logo over it, like the old "Buffy" Dark Horse photo covers.

Score: 4 out of 5

Story

First things first: there's no demon this issue. There's no "big bad", no warlocks, no good vs. evil conflict that needs to be resolved (save for one panel where we see one of the Fipers vanquishing a demon). It's entirely a family-based story, which is nice to have after having 12 issues that were driven by conflict with a greater magical being. Throughout the entire issue, it really felt like a quick, breazy episode of "Charmed", maybe circa Season 6 or so (with obviously older children).

I was a little apprehensive about how quickly Piper accepted the multiples situation in the morning around the breakfast table, but I thought back to the very first episode of "Charmed", when she accidentally used her freezing power for the first time. Over the course of eight seasons, Piper became the captain of the "no personal gain" rule, but in that first episode, she didn't TRY to use her power for personal gain... it just sort of happened. And much like then, she didn't seek out this solution either, but she wasn't going to turn away from it when it presented itself.

Had this been an actual TV episode, we probably would have been able to get into some of the negative effects the multiplicity had on Piper, but as it is, writer Paul Ruditis only had 22 pages to wrap things up. Still, I thought he did a good job at least showing the reader that this wasn't all fun and games for Real Piper with a couple quick panels, creating a true urgent need to fix the problem.

Score: 4 out of 5

Art

I've said in the past that I'm not a fan of the hashed line style Reno Maniquis uses (to get a good example of what I'm talking about, just check out the bottom left panel on the first page if you have the issue) and that's not going to change. It's nothing personal against Reno, it's just not my cup of tea. So I'm not going to downgrade him for that, because it wouldn't be fair. What did bother me is that the Piper likeness starts off just as good as it was in Issue 10, then seems to get away from him a bit in the middle of the issue, before roaring back at the end. I don't know if that was an intentional direction for the Fipers, or if it was just a struggle with trying to differentiate characters who were all supposed to look the same, but it bugged me as I was reading and pulled me out of the issue.

Also, and maybe this is just my imagination but Maniquis seems to do a better job with the likenesses when the face is being shown in profile or at least at an angle. For example, in the scene in the car, there's a panel shown from the perspective of looking through the driver's side window, and the Paige likeness looks flawless. But in the head-on panel just above and below it, it's not quite right. It's not always noticeable, but when the perspective shifts multiple times on a page, it caught my eye.

Jason Embury's coloring work was solid, though he's like the third or fourth consecutive colorist on this series to go a bit overboard with the solid white teeth look. I did adore the coloring work on the Book of Shadows page we see. That's been a consistent throughout the series, with every artist who gets to show the book going out of their way to make it look fantastic.

Score: 3 out of 5

Overall

Zenescope established with the first set of issues that the issue following a multi-issue arc will stand completely on its own, and that pattern is repeated here. I'm also glad that Piper got "her" issue before Paige did ("Oh, Henry" was really an arc issue, not a stand-alone Paige issue), because she was always my favorite of the sisters, and this issue did the character justice. The issue probably won't be as memorable in the long run as Phoebe's issue, which had the benefit of having a true tie-in with the TV series, but it was a fun read nonetheless.

Score: 3.75 out of 5


Previous Issue
#12, The Charmed Offensive
Charmed #13
Piper's Place
Next Issue
#14, Cupid's Harrow

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